The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Kivrin Engle, a brilliant and determined young woman, is the first historian to journey back to the Middle Ages. She makes the trip despite the misgivings of her teacher and mentor, Mr. Dunworthy. His anxieties seem justified when the technician in charge of the time “net” mumbles that something is wrong and then collapses from a deadly new strain of influenza shortly after sending Kivrin to the past. What gradually becomes clear is that Kivrin has been infected with that same flu and sent not to 1320, as intended, but to 1348, the year the Black Death began to ravage England.

Unbeknown to her, Kivrin’s arrival in the past is witnessed by an illiterate but saintly priest, Father Roche, who brings the sick and delirious woman, whom he regards as a messenger from heaven, to the castle of his lord. Kivrin is nursed back to health by Lady Eliwys and her family, who were sent by her husband to hide from the plague in this remote village. While anxiously trying to relocate her rendezvous point—the exact location where the gateway in time will reopen—she quickly grows to love the people, especially Eliwys’ two young daughters, Agnes and Rosemunde. Travelers fleeing a nearby city bring the plague, and Kivrin realizes for the first time that she is in the wrong year. With little hope of returning to her own time, she does her best, along with Father Roche, to battle the plague and save the people of the village.

In the twenty-first century,...

(The entire section is 495 words.)