I'm just a little ashamed to admit this, but I love the movie Timeline (2003).  For some reason I am completely willing to overlook the horrendous acting and the few plot inconsistencies for the opportunity to travel back to the Middle Ages, especially this year, since that time period has been the subject of my study.

So I decided to read the book by Michael Crichton.  I really wanted to like it.  But most of the interesting points that I enjoyed from the movie were not in the book.  Plus, the book was on the gratuitous end of the violent scale.  In fact, (I’m in shock as I’m saying this) Hollywood actually cleaned up the story quite a bit in regards to not only violence, but language and adult content as well.

I didn’t really care for Crichton’s style, either.  The characters were paper-thin, and none of them were all that likable or interesting.  I didn’t think the characterization in the movie was anything spectacular, but any feeling I had for the characters while reading the book was mostly due to how they were portrayed in the film.  In the book I was often disappointed in them, or left wanting more.  They were all rather selfish, and there was little thought to messing up history (i.e. the wrong side winning the battle) as there was in the movie.  One character went through a tiny bit of growth, and for that reason he became slightly more interesting, but even so, going from selfish and immature to not-as-selfish-and-immature is a slightly overused theme.  The action was non-stop, but that’s a poor trade-off when the reader doesn’t really care about what happens to the characters.

So after you have prepared yourself for some sub-par acting, watch the movie and enjoy the story.  Skip the book; there’s much better fare on the Middle Ages out there.