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Trace Memory

(Torchwood #5)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  871 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Tiger Bay, Cardiff, 1950: A mysterious crate is brought into the docks on a Scandinavian cargo ship, the Kungssangen. Its destination: The Torchwood Institute. As the crate is offloaded by a group of local dockers it explodes, killing all but one; a young Butetown lad called Michael Bellini. Fifty-eight years later a radioactive source somewhere inside Torchwood leads the ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 6th 2008 by BBC Books
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  871 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A mysterious create is brought to Cardiff in 1953, whilst being unloaded it explodes and kills everyone except Michael Bellini.

The Torchwood crew discover Michael in the hub and all realise that they have seen him before...
The story has plenty of flashbacks and wonderfully explores the teams backstories.
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
In 1953, four men agreed to come late to the docks and take one crate from a Swedish ship. A huge explosion leaves only one, Michael Bellini, alive. The item that was in the crate ended up in Torchwood vaults. Present day: this same Michael Bellini ends up cowering in the Torchwood basement. He wears the same 1950s clothes and he keeps talking about men in bowler hats who seem to follow him everywhere. Soon all of them realize they have seen this man sometime in their past. The rest of the book ...more
Keri Payton
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
(From my blog: Quill Café)

In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I purchased this book. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.

Michael Bellini is just a local docker doing his job, until the crate he is meant to be retrieving explodes and kills his three co-workers. Soon he is transplanted into different places in time, with one particular memory. The label on the crate read: Torchwood.

In present day, Torchwood
Sarah Theis
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Michael, who was seen in different points of time, over the span of years, never in order, and every where that Michael went, death was sure to go.

This was a good story, sad but good.
My only complaint is it felt short to me though. The jumping between the pasts of different characters, explaining how they all knew this one man who, out of thin air, breached Torchwood and had no idea how or where he was, made it feel almost like those episodes of TV shows where they show yo
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: whoniverse, sci-fi
Oh, I really liked this. A lot. It was just quiet and haunting and sad and lovely. I liked the way the narrative was set up, floating in and out of time. The look at Torchwood 1 was terrifying, honestly. The characterization was exactly spot on, and the Jack/Ianto moments were perfect. I love their relationship, and love that Ianto is the one he confided in. Oh, and Jack and Michael. Those boys broke my heart. I really liked the glimpse of Jack in the past, and all of the main character bits, es ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: torchwood
Now this is the type of story I really enjoy. My favourite "Torchwood" trope -- the flashback -- is used to wonderful effect. Glimpses into everyone's past, more insight into Jack's long journey through the 20th century, and a beautiful sense of melancholy and love that permeates the best "Torchwood" stories, both televised and in prose. Extra bonus points for preempting Steven Moffat's idea of the Whipermen...except these aliens are more terrifying. This is easily my favourite of David Llewelly ...more
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I haven't been impressed with the Torchwood novels, but I really enjoyed this one. The story is cleverly written, and the characters are true to their TV form. The author didn't forget that one of the reasons people love Torchwood so much is due to the characters' complex relationships, not just the action scenes and goofy innuendos. It was a good blend of all.

Also, this book was properly edited! Can't say that for its predecessors.
Craig Andrews
An excellent book that would have made an awesome episode featuring a man who becomes unstuck in time (very similar to Babylon 5 plot).
Aricia Gavriel
Fifteen Torchwood novels were produced in hardcover by BBC Books, and the quality seems to have been remarkably varied, from the intricate plot to the simple, from characters who felt instantly familiar to viewers, to others where it can be difficult to recognize them as the same Jack, Ianto, Owen, Gwen and Toshiko we saw in the spin-off from evergreen favorite Doctor Who. I’ve read ten of these tie-ins, and though some are good SF and others are great Torchwood -- and occasionally a novel would ...more
Leila Anani
in 1953 3 Cardiff dockworkers are waiting for a mysterious crate labelled Torchwood. It explodes. 2 of the men are killed but the third, Michael gets laced with Tachyon radiation which causes him to randomly time shift into the pasts and presents of the Torchwwod crew. Mean while two very freaky aliens in Bowler hats chase Michael through time always seeming to arrive too late to catch him....

This one reminded me a bit of the Tommy episode - 2.3 to the last man - however instead of Tosh getting
Mia Couture
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since I've visited my friends, Jack, Gwen, Ianto, Tosh and Owen. I think this is my favorite Torchwood story yet. I've always been a sucker for time travel and this one involves a blast from Jack's past.
Lisa Emmerson
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
An easy read which I totally enjoyed.
Megan Kelosiwang
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this! My first Torchwood and my inly criticism is that it was too short. I liked the characters and the storyline and could really have done with some more.
Tony Pope
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you enjoyed the Torchwood series on TV, chances are you will enjoy being able to revisit the Torchwood universe introduced by the Dr. Who spinoff.
Andrew Butcher
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love a bit of time travel. With all the flashes of white light and jumping through time, this book reminded me of Season 5 of Lost. And I love Lost, so enough said.
Jules Jones
May 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: whoniverse
Fifth Torchwood tie-in novel, and the middle one of the trio released for the second season. This one has a couple of references which place it late in second season, but no spoilers, and you don't need to know anything but the basics about the universe to enjoy it.[return][return]Michael Bellini's a Cardiff dockhand, part of a workgang waiting to unload a ship late one night in 1953. A ship whose cargo includes a crate marked "Torchwood". A strange explosion leaves him in hospital, the only one ...more
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Niala Terrell-Mason
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really liked this Torchwood tie-in. It definitely had the feel of an actual episode. In fact, I was definitely wishing this had been an episode while I was reading it. You really feel for the main character caught in the time loop at the heart of the story. Like most Torchwood stories, this one is about human tragedies, fates that can't be avoided, good people in sucky situations and so on. It's all handled with great empathy. On the not-super sad end, I really enjoyed getting to see a bit of ...more
Jana Denardo
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 25, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2009
One of the best Torchwood novels I've read so far. It started out on a boring Sunday, even for the Torchwood team, approaching as close to normal-life as they ever get, and of course that's interrupted. It became a haunting and melancholy story, exploring a bit of what it's like to have to live non-linearly - a huge, exhausting burden it seems, and I would tend to agree. The Japanese fairy tale was executed quite well, I feel, and each of the vignettes, as novels have a tendency to do, opened up ...more
Wayland Smith
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Torchwood novels have been erratic. This was one of the better ones. The Torchwood Institute is expecting a shipment, but the crate explodes. Most of the people near it die. One doesn't.

This young man is sent bouncing around through time, interacting with Jack Harkness' Torchwood team at various points in their lives before they actually join Torchwood. There are some very heartbreaking moments as the kid comes closer to his end with each time jump.

I liked that they showed us what the team m
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Several of my friends regularly watch/watched Dr Who and Torchwood. I managed to never get into Torchwood when it was on the air. I was familiar with the characters and concepts due to catching bits and pieces of the show or hearing friends discuss some point or other. I'm more of a reader than TV watcher, so I started reading this series as I was interested enough to see what it was all about. At first, I had assumed the novels would just retell the events from the TV show, but these are totall ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one. The story centered around Michael, a young man shook loose in time by a mysterious explosion. He encounters each of the members of Torchwood at some point in there past, which gives the reader a nice glimpse into events that are either ignored or barely touched upon in the show. The voices of the characters ring true to what we seen in the show, which is definitely not true of all of the books. We get our closest look at Jack, whose story is most closely entwined with ...more
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: media-tie-in
This is by far my favorite Torchwood book. It has all I ask for and want in a Torchwood novel. This story would have made a fantastic TV episode.

We learn more about each character's background before they became an employee at Torchwood. We even find out info about old school Torchwood and its members and operations. The story is just so intriguing and keeps your interest the whole way through and makes you think. There are time jumps, but you understand them very quickly. You won't be lost.

Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one, really
i wish these books were half as good as the episodes, and not such lame pretenders to the throne of torchwoodyness. i thought the last t-book (another life) i read was mediocre...this was worse, and i think because it tried too hard. the different vantage points, story lines, just left it feeling fractured and flat. the only depth in this story was the michael-jack thread; if the author had chosen to focus here, instead of trying to cover everyone, i think it would've made for better reading.

Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any Torchwood Fan
So far my favorite of the Torchwood novels. I enjoyed Trace Memory as it is an homage to Slaughterhouse-Five.

I have sense read Torchwood: Consequences & am currently reading Torchwood: Bay of the Dead both are not nearly as well written as Trace Memory however, the best story within Consequences is the short story The Baby Farmers by this author

ebook edition purchased at
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good, series, slashreaders
Anyway so yeah another Torchwood book. I like this was one, it was good and as it falls within the range of the second season dealt more with the slash elements of this series then books from within the first season do. Over all I thought this story was good, though I did not think that this author did as good with some of the characterizations as some of the others have done. Still it was well written and interesting. If you are looking for a fun, adventure with some slash thrown in this book i ...more
Jami Leigh
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, kindle, trad-pub
Plot: 3 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Style: 3 stars
Pace: 3 stars

I figured I'd see if these torchwood books were any good. Like all TV show novels, the order doesn't matter, and I'd snagged this one a while back. Finally remembered to read it. Alas, while it's nice to see the old crew (*sighs at BBC* WHY BBC, WHY?!), it's not as good as I would have wanted it to be. The shifts in POV between everyone often felt stilted and overdone, and the only reason I had any connections to the characters is be
This story is like those Russian dolls toys. Each "pieces of Michael's story" hide another piece until you get to the little tiny doll "story" at the heart of the novel. Jack's piece of Micheal's story.

I liked this one. If only because it gave us a glimpse of Jack that the show hasn't yet. But.. you need to know the show to appreciate the novels even more in this one because there are a lot of things that aren't said but that you know and impact on the narrative (like Ianto and Jack's relations
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David Llewellyn is a Welsh novelist and script writer. He grew up in Pontypool and graduated from Dartington College of Arts in 2000. His first novel, Eleven, was published by Seren Press in 2006. His second, Trace Memory, a spin-off from the BBC drama series Torchwood, was published in March 2008. Everything Is Sinister was published by Seren in May 2008. He has written two novels for the Doctor ...more

Other books in the series

Torchwood (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • Another Life (Torchwood, #1)
  • Border Princes (Torchwood, #2)
  • Slow Decay (Torchwood, #3)
  • Something in the Water (Torchwood, #4)
  • The Twilight Streets (Torchwood, #6)
  • Pack Animals (Torchwood, #7)
  • Skypoint (Torchwood, #8)
  • Almost Perfect (Torchwood, #9)
  • Into the Silence (Torchwood, #10)
  • Bay of the Dead (Torchwood, #11)
“Ianto Jones was at his station behind the run-down Tourist Information Centre that served at a front to the clandestine goings on in Torchwood. His bare feet were on his desk, his tie slumped like a crestfallen snake next to an open pizza box, the top two buttons of his shirt undone.

"Taking it easy, I see?" said Jack, stepping out through the security door that led into the Hub itself. "Well at least someone has the right idea. Whatcha doing there, Sport?"

"Sport?" said Ianto. "Not sure I like 'Sport' as a term of endearment. 'Sexy is good, if unimaginative. 'Pumpkin' is a bit much, but 'Sport'? No. You'll have to think of another one.

"Okay, Tiger Pants. Whatcha doing?"

Ianto laughed.

"I..." he said, pausing to swallow a mouthful of pizza, "am having a James Bondathon."

"A what?"

"A James Bondathon. I'm watching my favourite James Bond films in chronological order."

"You're a Bond fan?"

"Oh yes. He's the archetypal male fantasy, isn't he? The man all women want to have, and all men want to be."

"Are you sure it's not the other way around?”
“Penny for your thoughts,' asked Gwen.
'Cheapskate,' said Ianto. 'Never heard of inflation? Thoughts are a bit pricier than that these days.'
'OK,' said Gwen. 'A pint down the local tomorrow for your thoughts.'
Ianto smiled. 'That's more like it.”
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