The Ministry of Time

The Ministry of Time

Read Time: 3 Minutes

If you’re in the mood for a mix of time travel and espionage, then “The Ministry of Time” by Kaliane Bradley might be the audiobook you’re looking for. Combining elements of time travel, romance, and espionage, and set against the backdrop of a futuristic British government ministry, this book kept my earbuds firmly in place.

The story follows an unnamed protagonist, referred to as “the bridge,” who is hired by the British government to assist and monitor historical figures, or “expats,” brought to the present for study. Her primary charge is Graham Gore, an 1800s polar explorer, whom she helps acclimate to modern life.

Gore is plucked from his timeline moments before his death during an arctic exploration gone horribly wrong. Along with some others brought back through time, including a soldier pulled from the trenches of the First World War, a 17th-century woman rescued from her quarantined house during the Great Plague of London, and a soldier from the 1645 English Civil War.

Primarily, our focus is on Gore and “the bridge”… actually, that’s hard to keep writing. At one point, Gore calls her “little cat,” so I’m going with “Cat” from here on. Cat is a new recruit to the Ministry of Time, a clandestine agency in service of England. Gore is charming and naive, and it’s Cat’s job to help him assimilate to life in the 21st century.

While mostly a slice-of-life story as we follow the day-to-day activities of Gore as Cat tries to get him up to speed with modernity, there’s also the espionage side of things. Someone is after the time machine the Ministry uses to bring people back from the past and is trying to kill those they’ve brought back.

Time travel as a plot device can be tricky, but Bradley’s use of it in this novel is an interesting take that circumvents a lot of the problems. For a start, they only pull people forwards through time at the point of their death, so they won’t be missed. Secondly, there’s an interesting take on how or if the people can actually survive being brought forward in time. A kind of temporal wavering which makes them stop showing up on scans and video surveillance and the like.

Primarily narrated by Katie Leung who does an excellent job. Her characterisations and accents, indeed the “lost” accent from the 7th-century lady was quite unique. Not one I could specifically put my finger on. George Weightman, the alternate narrator, was used during the flashback parts where we follow Gore and his expedition as they realise the end is upon them in the snowy wastes. Production is top-notch, no background noises, retakes or anything to pull me out of the moment.

Charming and witty, with plenty of light chuckles along the way as the poor refugees from time try to cope with modern life. Nothing too technical on the whole “how” of the time travel side, mostly handwaved away with explanations of a “doorway” created by a machine. As a debut novel, Kaliane Bradley has done fantastically well. It’s an entertaining story with fun and relatable characters that’s easy to get into on any level.


Time Travel, Contemporary, Male Narrator, Female Narrator, Espionage, Historical Fiction, Time Travel Romance
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