The Anubis Gates is Tim Powers' breakout novel, first published in 1983.Literary scholar Brendan Doyle is hired by reclusive millionaire J. Cochran Darrow to provide color commentary on a sight-seeing expedition into the year 1810 through one of the eponymous Gates, a series of gaps through time accidentally created in the 19th century by a cadre of Egyptian sorcerers attempting to overthrow the British Empire. The expedition attracts the attention of the sorcerers, who kidnap Doyle to find out where the travellers come from and how they found out about the Gates. He escapes, but not until the expedition has returned to 1983 and the Gate has closed, leaving him stranded in 1810 London and having to deal with the Egyptian sorcerers, the Body Snatcher Dog-Face Joe, the mystery of the reclusive poet William Ashbless, and the discovery that there was more to the original sight-seeing expedition than he was told.
This novel provides examples of:
And You Thought It Was a Game: Coleridge plays an important role in the climax of the story, all the while convinced he's just having a particularly vivid drug trip.
Anti-Magic: The Antaeus Brotherhood have a technique for diverting magical attacks away from themselves.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Happens to Doyle twice. The second time is strongly implied to be horrific and mostly happens offscreen except for the screaming.
Compound Interest Time Travel Gambit: Averted by Darrow's plan. Scheming to travel into the past and invest his wealth there, he also intends to become immortal and watch over his investment, taking full advantage of his economic foresight, rather than trust in compound interest alone.
Counterfeit Cash: One of several plots by the Egyptian villains has them trying to throw the UK into crisis by pouring counterfeit money into the banking system.
Creator In-Joke: When Tim Powers and James Blaylock were in college together, they invented a fake poet named "William Ashbless" to satirize the quality of their college's literary magazine. In The Anubis Gates, he appears as a major character.
Eyes Never Lie: Beth Tichy recognises a monster as her fiancé, transformed, by the expression in his eyes — just after she shoots it.
A Glass in the Hand: Subverted: the protagonist tries to break a beer mug in his hand to show how tough he is and intimidate his way out of an awkward situation, but discovers, to his embarrassment and onlookers' amusement, that he isn't quite strong enough. Still defuses the awkward situation, though.
Goldfish Poop Gang: Doctor Romany. He's not a nice guy and neither are his aims or his means, but after watching all of his increasingly-desperate plans come apart on him, it's hard not to see him as a little pathetic.
Grand Theft Me: Dog-Face Joe does this, and Darrow plans on doing it (with his own son, no less).
"I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: How Doyle overcomes replicant mindslave Byron. While he thinks that what he wants to do is obey his master's sinister commands, Doyle knows what he really wants to do is write poetry.
Our Homunculi Are Different: The magical substance paut can be used to create living humanoid beings. Horrabin makes very small servants called the Spoonsize boys for various acts of espionage (and also to serve as the "puppets" in his Punch and Judy show), and the full replica of a human called a ka is fashioned from the same stuff.
Prophecy Twist: At the beginning, Doyle recalls what he knows about Ashbless, including the discovery of his corpse. At the end, having become Ashbless, Doyle heads out to where he's supposed to die. However, earlier in the story, the villains made a replica of him - which Doyle encounters there and kills in the same manner that Ashbless was supposed to be killed. He leaves the body there to be discovered and walks away, much more optimistic.
Public Secret Message: Time travelers in the early 19th century get each other's attentions on busy city streets by whistling Beatles songs.
Punch Clock Villain: Richard, the old gypsy who works for Doctor Romany, is very much in on all of his evil schemes, but pretty much a decent guy. Early on in the book, he merely watches as Romany tortures Doyle for information, but when he himself recaptures Doyle later on, he decides to let him go rather than turn him back over to his boss. He also interferes with the attempt to murder Byron in cold blood. When Romany is eventually exiled to the past, his reaction is pretty much relief, and he merely gathers up his people and leaves.
Right in Front of Me: The scene in which William Ashbless is introduced to his wife-to-be, immediately after saying something he would have worded much more carefully if he'd known who she was.
Secret History: How Doyle gets around You Already Changed The Past. Since he turns out to be the only source for Ashbless' life, he doesn't need to do what the history books say; he just has to remember what the history books say so he can recite them as Blatant Lies later.
One of the villains gets stranded in the past and has to come back the long way, winding up as a mad old coot who appears in the story before the fateful time journey, making incomprehensible prophecies and mocking the ambitions of his younger self.
Another villain deliberately strands himself in the past (having come up with an unpleasant but effective plan for remaining youthful), with the intention of using his historical knowledge to accumulate wealth and power on his way back to the present.
Spooky Seance: In a Noodle Incident, a seance was being conducted at the site of one of the gaps in time. As these gaps cause magic to start working in their vicinity, this seance presumably got results; just what result, no one knows, as the participants were all found dead the next day, sitting around their ouija board with horrified looks on their faces.
Tongue Trauma: Dog-Face Joe mutilates his own tongue whenever he's about to abandon a body, so that his victim can't go talking about what just happened in the brief time remaining before the poison he takes at the same time does its work.
Unusual Euphemism: Jacky describes the events of the climax as "surviving the condensed works of Dante".
Write Back to the Future: The protagonist sends a message from the past to himself, jotting a note on a book in Pig Latin. This isn't so much an attempt to convey information — he'd already seen the note, and been surprised by it, at a previous point in his time-traveling adventure — so much as a way to self-seal a Stable Time Loop and ensure his earlier self will pay attention to that particular book.