Time Dancers
Steve Cash
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Buy *Time Dancers* by Steve Cash

Time Dancers
Steve Cash
Del Rey
416 pages
May 2006
rated 3 of 5 possible stars
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The second book in Steve Cash's "The Meq" series starts a couple of months after the end of the previous book, on March 1919. Z and his adopted family of humans and Meq are back in St. Louis and enjoying baseball games. All is not well for long, though, because the evil Meq rogue assassin Fleur-du-Mal kills several of Z's friends, sending an awful message that he isn't safe no matter where he is. Z and his Meq friends start a hunt for the Fleur-du-Mal that takes them all the way to Egypt. There Z hears about the legends of a sixth Stone that the Fleur-du-Mal could be searching for that. Z and his friends decide to find the Stone before the assassin does. Once again they start to journey - for decades - all around the world. Along the way they get hints about the future and the Fleur-du-Mal's reasons for doing what he does.

The Meq are near-immortals who stay physically at twelve years old until they meet their soul mate and choose to become normal humans. They don't age or get sick, and they heal very quickly. However, in this book their immunity to disease seems to fade, and they just accept it without trying to investigate the cause.

Cash's style continues to put distance between the reader and the characters. There is some mention of Z's emotions when he describes his interaction and thoughts about his soul mate, but otherwise the characters are muted. Also, his description of places isn't very colorful even in places such as the Valley of the Kings and St. Louis. It seems that only when the narrative moves to baseball is Cash moved enough to describe events, places and characters with more detail.

The characterization is weaker than in the previous book. The Fleur-du-Mal is given some pop-psychology explanations for his murderous personality. However, that comes up in a discussion with other people so it might not be an actual reason. It's interesting to note that Z himself suffered through almost the same event as what supposedly made the Fleur-du-Mal a murderer, and yet nobody is worried about Z becoming unstable. However, the biggest problem is the girl who they saved in the last book. Since the age of four, she has been a slave in a Middle Eastern tribe, yet she doesn't show any difficulties settling into the life of wife and mother in the U.S. Also, one of the characters was kidnapped in the previous book, but nobody searched for him. Still, when he comes back, he seems to accept the fact that nobody even tried to save him. Many of the characters have enormous luck: in the real world, most kidnapped children would have a horrible fate.

Overall, the characters react to other people but don't do much for themselves. The pace of the story is slow and lacks driving tension. The sprinkling of historical places and people in the book may be of some interest. Cash's writing style is the same as in The Meq; those who enjoyed that are likely to enjoy its sequel, too.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Mervi Hämäläinen, 2006

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