I was starting to feel really guilty at the idea of never having read a single of Tim Powers' book especially after all the good I had heard of them. And then I had the opportunity to listen to one of his (few!!) interviews by a French journalist and well, I must say that the guy sounded quite easy going and humorous so I told myself: "Self, it is definitely time"
And may I add that Self doesn't regret this in the least...
I think that the word that best describes the Anubis Gates is diversity: a fine mix between egyptian mythology, time travelling, English literature of the 19th century, magic and historical events... most of the plot takes place in the 19th century.
Of course, there are a few details that you guess even before the main character, Brendan Doyle, even thinks about it, but I'm not sure that this wasn't made on purpose on the part of the author. After following a discussion on clichés and such on Communautés epicfantasy, I can definitely say that a 100% surprise doesn't make a suspenseful novel. I'm tired of these characters doing and saying things that make no sense at all. I like telling myself "Ok this is logical, I would've done that too had I been in the same situation". I'm sick and tired of characters doing unjustified things because it fits the storyline better... see what I mean?
Anyway, out of all this diversity and crazy universe, Powers manages to make something really good and believable, in the end, you can't exactly tell what's historical fact and what's not... I think the whole adventure could've turned out to be absurd or even a parody but here, even though you smile and sometimes even laugh, we're a far cry from Pratchett's style.
Constantly playing and different styles (Thriller, SF, humor... urban fantasy even?), Powers never gets lost in long detailled scientific explanations about time travelling... I think that could've lead to poor characterization... so amateurs of hard science might be a bit disappointed here.
A few questions remain unanswered but nothing that really disturbs the conclusion of the story. A few plot holes or rather paradoxes withing paradoxes that mustn't be lookd at too closely but overall a more than satisfying book that you pick up and can't seem to let down (yeah, just my luck when I should've been reading Raboteau's "Slave Religion"!)
Highly recommended to all.