The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

2018 Limelight Reviews
Historical Novels, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Ian Mortimer is a British historian and well known for his non-fiction books on daily life in England’s historic times.  As displayed by other medieval crime authors (see Edith Pargeter, Ellis Peters, Alys Clare and Bernard Knight to name a few), Mr Mortimer has a wonderful knack of describing what life was like, from changes in women’s clothing to mechanical inventions and preparation of foodstuffs.

The Outcasts of Time offers a unique twist: two brothers are infected with the Black Plague. It is a day in December 1348 and, rather than travel home to Moreton, Devon carrying the infection to their family, they try to sell their souls to the devil in return for a longer life.  Instead, they are granted only 6 days of life with the condition that each day is spent 99 years in the future. They go to sleep and wake again to live one day each in 1447, 1546, 1645, 1744, 1843 and 1942.

This story is a wonderful journey, centered around Moreton (nowadays called Moretonhampstead, and co-incidentally the home of the author) and the remarkable changes in the towns and daily customs with which John and William must grapple and try to blend in.

The preface states that “Home is not a place but a time” and by story’s end the reader fully understands the nuances of this truth. Recommended for English history lovers.

Find The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer in the SMSA Library Catalogue


Belinda Coombs
Member of the SMSA Mystery & Crime Reading Group