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A Tale of Time City

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,207 ratings  ·  209 reviews
Time City — built far in the future on a patch of space outside time — holds the formidable task of overseeing history, yet it's starting to decay, crumble .... What does that say for the future of the world ... for the past ... for the present? Two Time City boys, determined to save it all, think they have the answer in Vivian Smith, a young Twenty Century girl whom they ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1987)
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Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesCharmed Life by Diana Wynne JonesThe Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne JonesCastle in the Air by Diana Wynne JonesHouse of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
Favourite Diana Wynne Jones
30th out of 38 books — 321 voters
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsTimeline by Michael CrichtonSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Best Time Travel Fiction
114th out of 1,067 books — 3,433 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jessica
Mar 27, 2011 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kids
Recommended to Jessica by: uncle harold
This is the first Diana Wynne Jones book I ever read. My uncle Harold gave it to me one year for Christmas. It probably changed my life, though I'd be hard pressed to say exactly how.

---

The above is an old review. Having just heard that Diana Wynne Jones has passed away, I've come back to press myself harder to say exactly how her book changed my life. I'd like to apologize in advance for my overwrought and melodramatic language; I have a giant hangover, and am in a highly emotional state.

I was
...more
Nikki
As usual, Diana Wynne Jones' imagination runs rampant, giving us a fun adventure with lots of amazing ideas packed in. I want to know what a butter pie tastes like, more than anything, but all of it was interesting and had me trying to puzzle it all out.

It wasn't surprising in any way, to me anyway, because it somehow seemed very typical of Diana Wynne Jones. But it was fun, and hooked me in well.

Not my favourite of her books so far, but that would be difficult to decide anyway...
Flora
A Tale of Time City is many things: utterly confusing, fantastically imaginative, highly intelligent and unexpectedly complex. Above all, however, it is entertaining.

This book precedes the Harry Potter series, but while reading it you really wonder if JK Rowling was perhaps a Diana Wynne Jones fan. I instantly get a familiar feeling with the way Jones describes her magic - so belonging, logical, rational and wonderfully. Beside that, there's other things - people walking through walls at train s
...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I will write it again: Diana Wynne Jones is a genius. Really was there any limitation on what she could write? Her ability to bring to life all manner of ideas from her most amazing mind leaves me awestruck. A Tale of Time City, I confess, is not my favorite of her books. Still. Saying one of her books doesn't live up to its fellows still puts it above almost everything else out there.

Some of my aloofness toward this book may come from my love
...more
Mark
Wonderful children's time travel book. One of the things I like best about Diana Wynne Jones is how her children are children and adults are adults. What do I mean by that? First, children are not adults. They can't do everything an adult might do. They can't win a sword fight with an ogre. But they are still competent - they might trick the ogre or sneak past the ogre. (It has been a while so I don't remember an example from this book.) Second, adults are adults. In too many YA books the adults ...more
Julie Davis
All the other Diana Wynne Jones books I've read until now were the favorites of a pal who did me the great service of lending them so I could get hooked. This one looked interesting but it has taken me a while to get into the story. About halfway through I am finally warmed up to it and love some of the concepts ... such as the kids who live in Time City but are fascinated by what it is like "in history" when they're quizzing the heroine about WWII and 1938 London.

FINAL
I finished it but it wasn'
...more
Margaret
WWII evacuee Vivian Smith is shocked when she is unceremoniously kidnapped from a railway station by two boys and taken to Time City. There she learns that although the city was built in order to keep history moving along as it should, something seems to be going wrong, and the boys, Jonathan and Sam, have mistaken her for the mysterious Time Lady, who they think can fix the problems. The plot is on the convoluted side, involving multiple time travel trips, but Jones keeps it moving along with a ...more
Nic
Can't believe it took me so long to get hold of this one! It is, of course, very good. I love that we keep seeing the children who are evacuated from London, and there's so much detail about what it's like to be one of them on a hot train carrying a gas mask and going to live with people you've never met. DWJ was evacuated herself during the war, so this all rings incredibly true.

Also, who but she could write a scene with three separate people named Vivian in one room and make it not only clear
...more
Amanda
I've often heard of Jones and was not aware that i had even read any of her books. I'd always planned on reading one though. Anyway, I just came across this book and recognized the name and then found this, the exact same edition i had as a child. I don't remember much about the story but i do remember i loved it at the time. So, i guess i have read one of her books and now i'm intrigued to revisit her writing.

So sad, I just went to see her author's page and saw that she passed away just a few
...more
Mary-Beth
A fascinating sci-fi novel in which a young girl is mistakenly abducted as she is being evacuated into the country in England at the beginning of World War II. She is kidnapped by two young men who believe that she is an ageless woman responsible for the collapse of Time City, a city anchored apart from history and filled with only the brightest intellectuals of all ages. Be introduced to intriguing ideas like time locks, time ghosts and the strange mythology of the City as the children try to k ...more
Angie
I think I'm starting to see the pattern in Wynne Jone's books where the main character goes on a quest, meets lots of people who provide loads of information that only serves to confuse her/him, and only after we've run out of people to meet does the solution to the mystery present itself.

Patterns notwithstanding, she tells a great story. I'm currently on a quest to reread all the books, so I know I'm reading through them too fast and am sure I am missing things. This is one I'll need to reread
...more
Alison
This was remarkably wonderful. I inhaled it in several days; the pace is crackling and compelling. There are some flaws - the ending is rushed, and there are leaps of logic you just have to ignore - but despite these it was original and fascinating, and ridiculous in all the best ways. I would rather like a butter-pie now, too.

Note: the kindle edition was full of typos - distracting and annoying. I would not recommend that version.
Bron
Something makes me want to write "this is a spiffing tale", that's because the opening pages have a touch of the Abbey School girls and countless other school girl stories from my childhood, but it quickly develops into something more exciting and strange. So, what to say. In many ways it feels like a transition between Asimov's End of Eternity (written before it) and Garth Nix's Keys of the Kingdom series (written later) but it is also very much an original story with the same sort of quirkines ...more
Erin
Teaser Summary: Vivian Smith is simply on the train to the countryside, with all of the other children being evacuated from England during the WWII air raids. Vivian Smith is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her relative, when she is the victim of mistaken identity. A young time-traveling boy kidnaps her, thinking that Vivian is the cause of Time City's (a city outside of time) deterioration. Vivian then must help her new friends stop time from becoming chaotic, if she ever wants to get home to ...more
Sarah
This was the first DWJ book I ever read -- back in 5th grade? -- and it has been a favorite/comfort read ever since and has made me seriously consider how to fabricate my own goluptuous butter-pies.

I've lost track of how many times I've re-read it.
Bri
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charles
'A Tale of Time City' is another imaginative and entertaining book from the acclaimed queen of the fantastic, Diana Wynne Jones. It is hard not to find yourself bewitched by the book's charm and not to notice many aspects that, for example, J.K. Rowling herself was probably influenced by.

It seems to me that Wynne Jones, as an author of fantasy fiction, had once discovered the magic ingredients for the appeal and sense of wonder and mystery that is so inherent in all her works. An example is the
...more
Gunnhildur Rúnarsdóttir
I first read this when I was an exchange student in New Zealand. Since then I've read it several times.

I haven't read it recently so I can only say that as a 17 year old I really liked this book.
Alyxx
I've read this book twice now and I love it just as much - even more,maybe, as I did the first time I read it. I was nine, I'm 15 now and decided to read it after I stumbled upon it at a local library. It was also the first Diana Wynne Jones book I had ever read.
I understand it a lot better now because when I was younger I would ignore a few of the paragraphs without a dialogue. I did this with every single book.
I especially find the bit about the Sixty(-something) Century Mind Wars very inter
...more
Jamie
2.5 It was alright, but not up to DWJ's usual fare. Too many half completed ideas, a rushed-feeling ending with the "bad guys" congratulating each other on their dastardly plan in a stilted manner that felt rather like monologueing. I wasn't really buying the character of Vivian, who didn't seem particularly bothered by her transition from 1939 to futuristic Time City. The adults also seemed to be a bit moronic as well, but that's not uncommon in a childrens' book.

I would have given this book hi
...more
Ea Solinas
Time travel is every person's fantasy at one point or another... but in "A Tale of Time City," it really isn't nearly as fun as you would expect. Diana Wynne-Jones spins up an elaborate, wryly humorous scifi/fantasy where it turns out that time travel is a bit more complex than anyone expected, with plenty of memorable characters and weird time periods.

It's London, 1939, and the Blitz is looming over London. Vivian Smith is leaving to stay in the country with a cousin, only to be dragged into an
...more
Maki
I'm not as big on sci-fi as I am on fantasy, but this was Diana Wynne Jones, so it was still a really fun read. The woman had a way with crafting fascinating worlds.

Despite being a time-travel story, A Tale of Time City felt very much like a fairy tale. Mostly because, in part, it was a fairy tale. The main characters had to find four "boxes" - iron, silver, gold, and lead - to awaken the fabled creator of Time City to save it from its demise.

I enjoyed the cyclical nature of the timeline in the
...more
Wonderlalia
This book includes what is possibly my favourite rendition of a trademark DWJ trope I adore: sensible heroine deals with unexpected adventure with impeccable logic and common sense, while some pompous aristocrat or two prance around the place looking pretty and being impossible.

This is my favourite scene. In which Vivian, whom I adore, tries the most sensible tactic when one falls into a trench in a battleground in the middle of a time war. But the world is not having any of it:

"Then the ground
...more
Alantie
I've made it a goal to attempt to read all of Diana's works, and this was up next on the list.

Admittedly, this is not my favorite of her books. Which isn't to say it's bad, because that isn't the case. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why I'm not as fond of it as some of her other books. It almost feels a bit scattered in a way, not as cleanly written and well fleshed out as some of her others. The characters don't feel as well developed perhaps, and the rules of the world are a bit vague and some
...more
Maggie
This book was fun, but I didn't like it nearly as much as others I've read by DW Jones. After about 100 pages in, I spent almost the entire reading process just wishing to finish rather than enjoying. The writing felt very choppy to me. For a while I'm disliking the main characters, then suddenly they've changed to likeable-ish and I'm feeling like only the adults are idiots, which I hate in a book. Many of the characters'actions didn't make sense to me, and the writing doesn't even justify them ...more
Myles
DWJ Book Toast, #18

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite fantasy authors, growing up and now, and I was saddened by the news of her death. I can't say I'm overcome with emotion - as personal as some of her work is to me, its not like I knew her after all - but I wish I could put into words how I feel about her no longer being out there, writing new adventures and laughing at all of us serious fans thinking so hard about her words when we should simply get on with the business of enjoying them
...more
Althea Ann
In 1939, England, a young girl Vivian, is being evacuated from London
due to the onset of WWII (a seemingly common premise for a great deal
of British childrens' stories). However, she never makes it to her
destination, as she is kidnapped from a train platform. Her kidnappers
turn out to be two boys around her own age, Sam and Johnathan, who
have brought her to their home, Time City. Time City exists in a sort
of alternate time plane, and is collectively responsible for keeping
things 'on track.' Howe
...more
Stephanie
Now *this* was a fantastic book. I am in love with Diana Wynne Jones. And the cool thing is, she really is only human: some of her books I love to no end, and others I don't seem to need to read more than once. But I really love A Tale of Time City. The sad thing about her books is that she creates these fantastic worlds that I just want to know more about afterwards. (Ha! Fanfiction. ;))

The book centers around two boys that live in Time City, a place created on a pocket of time outside of 'norm
...more
Kulsuma
A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones was amazing! It was full of so many great ideas that I was always left surprised. I am impressed by the new world that Jones built, a city living out of time but watching over all of humanity's history and keeping it stable.


I wasn't disappointed on any account. I was awed by Time City just as Vivian, the main character was and loved discovering its many secrets along with her. Jones' descriptions were so wonderfully vivid that it wasn't too hard for me t
...more
Anna
Dianna Wynne Jones' book, A Tale of Time City, tells the story of Vivian Smith, who is stolen from her own time period (1939, during WWII), and transported to Time City, a city that stands outside of history. This city is in charge of making sure that history happens as it is supposed to, gently nudging the right people in the right direction, or preventing things from being invented too soon.
Vivian is kidnapped by two young boys, Jonathan and Sam, who overhear their parents saying that they nee
...more
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Diana Wynne Jones was the author of more than thirty critically acclaimed fantasy stories, including the Chrestomanci series and the novels Howl's Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm.

For Diana Wynne Jones's official autobiography, please see http://www.leemac.freeserve.co.uk/aut...
More about Diana Wynne Jones...
Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1) Castle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle, #2) Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1) The Lives of Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci, #2) House of Many Ways (Howl's Moving Castle, #3)

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