Review of Ian Hocking’s Novel – The Amber Rooms


The focus of my blog is to review book series and not individual novels. But writers are going to continue writing novels within a series even after I have done my review, so I plan on reviewing the individual novels as they come into circulation.   Ian Hocking has just recently released his 2nd edition of book #3, The Amber Rooms, to the Saskia Brandt series which also includes the novella, Red Star Falling.

“Quit messing with my mind!” are words that I mumbled a number of times as I was reading Ian Hocking’s The Amber Rooms. Time travel, alternate universes, brain-nanotechnology interface and quantum entanglement are all components of this novel, which to say is nothing less than mind bending. Of all the Saskia Brandt novels, The Amber Rooms, is undoubtedly the most complex which says a lot, as this series is one challenging read.

The Amber Rooms begins not long after the second novel, Flashback, ends. (Minor spoiler alert for Flashback) At the ending of Flashback, Saskia Brandt had left the year 2003 expecting to be transported into the future, but instead, arrived in Russia in the year 1907 at a pivotal point in its history. Russia was in turmoil and it was a time when it was difficult to trust anyone. Saskia’s goal was to arrive at a set time in the Amber Room located in the Catherine Palace of the Tsar’s Village. (Historically, the Amber Room is a real place which was disassembled by the Nazi’s during World War II.) The Amber Room is significant because it is the launching point for Saskia to travel back to the future. But getting there would be a challenge, as Saskia had to take on many roles and barely escape death to get there. Once she reaches the Amber Room, things turned weird.

Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo). Catherine Palace (destroyed in World War II): interior, Amber Room View in tinted lantern slide, ca. 1931. The architect Bartolommeo Rastrelli rebuilt the palace (originally built 1718-1724) in 1752-1756.
The Amber Room in Catherine Palace in 1931 (Wikimedia Commons)

Hocking’s style of writing has an artistic flair, along with the complex subject matter of time travel, parallel universes, and sophisticated technology, makes for a very challenging read. Hocking states in the beginning of the book that The Amber Rooms can be read as a standalone, but I would disagree, as I really feel that reading Déjà vu and Flashback will make reading The Amber Rooms much easier. In this addition of The Amber Rooms, Hocking has combined it with the novella Red Star Falling, which is a wise move, as it really gives a better ending to The Amber Rooms.

Besides the technological aspect of the novel, The Amber Rooms, gives a glimpse into Russian history at a time before the Russian revolution of 1917 takes place. Saskia gets to encounter the likes of Stalin and Lenin, as well as the brutalities that existed during that time period which makes for an educational and interesting read.

The Amber Rooms may mess up your mind, but it’s worth it.

To learn more about the series check out Ian Hocking’s Saskia Brandt series.


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