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Time Travel to Medieval England - an Editorial Review of "Soul Scepter"

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Book Blurb:

What if an object could read your soul and take you to where you had the greatest potential to attain your deepest desire?

Sixteen-year-old Will Donovan unknowingly is capable of operating such an object. He grew up bullied and shamed for the sins of his father. While wishing for an escape from his life, people in power plot to use his ability for their own devices.

A militant organization attacks Will and his friends and manipulates him into activating a mysterious scepter to chase the dreams of their power-hungry leader. Will, a girl named Celeste, and their attackers, time travel to Medieval England. The cunning modern-military commander seeks to launch a global conquest to rewrite history. Will and Celeste must try to survive the social class system and war-torn landscape of the Middle Ages while hunted by the modern men.

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Author Bio:

Dr. Eric Westergard writes fiction that inspires people to overcome adversity and discover their best selves. His action scenes are inspired by his experiences as a Captain in the US Air Force and from studying HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts). Eric loves adventures in the outdoors, but nothing prepared him for the domestic adventure of becoming the father of triplets. He and his family live in Arizona.

Editorial Review:

Soul Scepter: Time Marauders, by Eric Westergard, is a historical fantasy novel. It follows a group of young friends as they are transported back to England in 1345, the decade before the bubonic plague destroyed a third of Europe. The friends must stop an evil faction who traveled with them and who plan to use their modern technology from conquering the medieval world. It is an exciting romp filled with twists, memorable characters, and supernatural objects. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in an original and intelligent adventure.

Will Donovan is the protagonist. He is a teenager living in present-day America. His father is said to have committed a suicide bombing when Will was young. His mother heard the news on the car radio and suffered a crippling accident. Their family is ostracized and watched by the national media for any missteps that could be used for stories. Will wants to be treated normally by society. He is denied this and the novel opens with a creative bullying episode that acts as its hook. Chase, Will’s uncle, is a scientist working in a secret government-funded lab, and through a series of events, the alien scepter he researched transports the main characters to 14th century England. Will and Chase are the only two who can use the scepter and they, along with the other heroes, must stop a villainous faction from mass producing modern weapons and enslaving Europe. Will’s arc is one of overcoming the prejudices of his background to feel comfortable in his own skin and help others. He resents the modern world for its failings and for what it’s done to him and his family. For example, in one phase of his arc he questions whether he should stay in the 14th century and positively shape subsequent centuries. His arc focuses on his making peace with the world’s flaws and not allowing them to define him.

The novel is a plot-driven adventure, not a character study, but the text contains several moments granting insights into characters’ psychology. Some examples include:

It’s living that’s giving me problems.”

He pulled his mask on. Now that he wasn’t trying to force a brave face, he felt a wave of fear thrashing him in the gut. Will tried not to let his hands shake, and his fingers felt slick with sweat against the smooth metal surface of the gun. He couldn’t remember ever being this scared.

I don’t think I’ve ever picked a fight. They seem to pick me.”

This is an excellent adventure novel. It has a fast pace while still filling over 400 pages, leaving the reader satisfied with the journey they witnessed. Each segment builds naturally on what came before, the best evidence of well-done plotting. Each contains an action set piece of some kind. Some lasted longer than this reviewer preferred, and the cliffhangers were confusing at times (the reviewer thought that Uncle Chase had died two-three times to later learn he hadn’t). These are minor issues, however, and do not detract from the creativity on display, made all the more impressive because the prose reads as though the writer is a teenager or young man.

The segments between action scenes are, on occasion, more interesting than their action counterparts. Westergard wrote competent dialogue which gave each character a unique voice. Every character has a distinct personality and viewpoint. He writes his female characters particularly well. Celeste was the reviewer’s favorite character and her romantic subplot with Will was executed in a convincing and entertaining way. Both characters signalled interest in a manner that did not sacrifice eithers’ dignity. There were no hearts on sleeves. This was a refreshing change for this genre.

History is periodically discussed through the book but it does not consume the adventure-oriented narrative. The 14th century setting is given enough description for the story to function without becoming a history lesson or a “character” in itself. The medieval Englishmen speak in present-day English, a detail for which this reviewer felt grateful. The characters’ discussion of influencing history by remaining in the 14th century and utilizing their knowledge of intermediary events was a strong passage. The villain tempts Will through this line of thinking. Of course, his benevolence is the end for which world domination is the means. Will makes a similar case to his friends, sans the conquest. This leads to the following exchange with Uncle Chase:

No. If things are tampered with, we have no way of knowing that even worse atrocities won’t happen.”

Worse atrocities? If any of you could hypothetically travel back home with things unchanged, you could say to a Holocaust survivor, ‘You know, if I could go back in time and prevent genocides from happening, I wouldn’t because I would be afraid that something worse might happen.’”

Whoa! That’s completely unfair,” Chase said. “I’d never be that insensitive. In your example, though, what if someone like Hitler actually took over the world and no one was able to put a stop to his mass killings? Things can always be worse. That’s not something I think we should risk.”

Someone like Hitler is about to take over the world,” Will insisted. “And no matter what we do, there is an element of risk. What if we stopped the Dreizack and we theoretically returned to the future with no drastic changes? The future world constantly has wars—who’s to say people don’t wipe each other out a few years after we got back? Wouldn’t it be better to try to help create a more peaceful world?”

The book uses history to build context and establish stakes. It’s presented in a straight-forward, blunt manner, and may be introduced more subtly by a more experienced author. Similarly, the prose, though done well for such a young writer, could be smoother in places. The reviewer recommends using fewer adverbs and trying to differentiate the words used in close proximity. For example:

What? You think I telepathically flattened the tire?”

No, but if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be stuck out here with a flat tire!”

It’s a good thing Dad taught you how to change a flat.”

Any critiques mentioned are issues that the writer can improve upon over time. They are nitpicks and do not detract from what he accomplished with Soul Scepter: Time Marauders. This was a well-written fantasy adventure that signals that a creative mind put a lot of thought into telling the best story he could. He did an excellent job and this novel is highly recommended for fans of the genre.


“Soul Scepter” by Eric Westergard receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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