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Literature / Aeon Legion: Labyrinth

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A quiet day of surfing the internet at the local library was interrupted when Nazis kicked in the front door.Opening line

"Labyrinth" is the first book in the Aeon Legion series, a Science Fiction Time Travel series by J.P. Beaubien, creator of Terrible Writing Advice. Published on March 2016, the story follows Terra Mason, an ordinary girl about to graduate high school, who discovers a hidden world of time travel after witnessing a battle between the Aeon Legion, an elite force that protects history, and a force of time traveling Nazis led by the charismatic Hanns Speer. During the battle, Hanns's cunning almost allows him to steal a history book, but Terra works up enough courage to stop him from changing history.

Impressed with Terra's bravery, Alya Silverwind, one of the Aeon Legion's greatest heroines, offers Terra an opportunity to attend the Legion's academy. There Terra learns how to use technology that controls time itself, but she has to master it before the academy's final test; a deadly series of trials called the Labyrinth. Unfortunately, she has to compete with some of history's greatest soldiers and warriors in order to earn her place in the Legion.

While Terra struggles to survive the Legion's training, Hanns prepares to enact a plan that could not only secure the Third Reich’s place in history, but finally challenge the Aeon Legion's control of time. However, Hanns remains unaware of the Nazi Party's many atrocities. Both Terra and Hanns are equally determined to prove themselves a hero.

The story takes place in The Edge of Time, a place where all time overlaps. There are many branching lines of energy called continua that each contain an Alternate History. Most of the action takes place in a powerful city state floating in the Edge of Time called Saturn City. The Aeon Legion acts as Saturn City's defense force and they police all time travel within the Edge of Time. The Edge of Time is periodically beset by various threats that only the Aeon Legion has any chance of stopping. These threats range from the familiar such as Nazis, to the bizarre like the hyper evolving Manticores.

The story is a soft science fiction. There are no paradoxes and the physics of time travel are glossed over. The story has a heavy emphasis on action scenes and reads more like a fantasy story than science fiction.

Has a character sheet here and has a page dedicated to the analysis of the book's primary themes and motifs here

This book provides examples of:

  • Academy of Adventure: The Aevum Academy in Saturn City.
  • The Ageless: The shieldwatch's Healing Factor can also be used to render the user biologically immortal as the user can keep restoring themselves to youthful state.
  • All There in the Manual: There is a lengthy index in the back of the book explaining much of the world's inside information as well as more details on the technology and history of the Aeon Legion universe.
  • The Alcatraz: Tartarus has twelve levels each housing more dangerous criminals than the last. Level ten holds things like Manticores and no one knows what's on level twelve. Also functions as a Secret Government Warehouse for recovered singularity technology.
  • Alternate History: Time has several of these called a continuum that branch out at different points. Ours is called Continuum Lambda.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Singularity Technology is this for the setting. Technology designed by singularity class AIs is barely understood within the setting itself. A number of singularity technologies are shown, but the most prominent is the shieldwatch. The shieldwatch can control time and grants the user a number of powerful abilities. The only limitations are the shieldwatch's short range and limited power supply. It also cannot directly affect other people who are not the user. For example, the user cannot force age people or trap them in stasis.
  • Arc Number: A lot of things seem to come in 12s such as the number of zones in Saturn City, the number of Legendary Blades, the number of Trials in the Labyrinth, etc.
  • Arc Words: "I have seen to the steel in you."
  • Boot Camp Episode: Most of the book's plot is essentially this, though the Legion's training is more akin to special forces training. All recruits endure an intense physical and academic regimen while learning the skills to defend history.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Saturn City looks awesome at first glance. Everyone is immortal. There is no crime. People are nice and accepting of outsiders, mostly. However, the Edge of Time outside of Saturn City is constantly beset by escalating threats that are changing and evolving while Saturn City and the Aeon Legion itself remains stagant. Each threat is only barely kept at bay thanks to Alya constantly finding Qadars who all end up sacrificing themselves to stop it.
  • Chosen One: Alya seems to have a knack for finding these. In setting they are referred to as Qadar and have a special connection with fate.
  • City of Adventure: Saturn City though really most of the adventure part seems to be in the Academy.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Terra's successful scaling of a large cliff when the other recruits fail to is a major turning point for her character in the story. Terra's climbing skills also come in useful during the Trial of War when she scales a glacier.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: When the recruits are captured and interrogated. Turns out it was all a Secret Test.
  • Coming of Age Story: For Terra. She goes from a timid, directionless high school graduate to joining an elite time traveling force and fighting Nazis.
  • Cool Sword: The Aeon Edge. It uses time to cut through pretty much anything. Terra compares cutting through steel feel like cutting through air. It also has a burst function that sends out a wave of energy powerful enough to rip through a tank. It requires ammo to use and has a stun mode.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: A lot of characters and history is mentioned, but never explained in detail. Some of those details, like the Kings of Time, do become important later on.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Saturn City gives off this vibe. It seems to be a mesh of Arabic, Latin, and Greek culture.
  • Days of Future Past: The Aeon Legion is considered the most advance military in human history and they use swords.
  • Deadly Training Area: The Labyrinth which consists of 12 trials. These trials can be anything from solving logic puzzles while being attacked by condemned prisoners, surviving a Death World, battling two whole armies, or even fighting other recruits in one on one duels while in a volcanic wasteland.
  • Death World: Any place a Manticore decides to live since it spawns a nightmarish ecosystem wherever it nests.
  • Deflector Shields: One of the shieldwatch's abilities is that can freeze projectiles in stasis.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: Kairos claims that Saturn City is draining all of time for its own use.
  • The Dreaded: No one really wants to talk about the Faceless in great detail. They even make Alya nervous and she charged an army of Nazis because it looked like fun.
  • The Faceless: What the Faceless are. Also Kairos once she comes back with a mask and the Captain who is later revealed to be Lycus.
  • Failed Audition Plot: The instructors reject Terra out of hand when they first meet her on the reasonable grounds that she is an out of shape civilian trying to join an elite military organization. She has to face down Lycus in a battle of wills just to be let into the training program. Nikias also reveals that the instructors do this to almost everyone just to see if they come back to try again.
  • Fantastic Recruitment Drive: The Aevum Academy and the Aeon Legion's recruitment system usually offers MIAs a chance to join since history has already written them off as dead. Most jump at the opportunity to become immortal. Recruitment of native Saturnians is not a viable option since Saturn City's population growth is stagnant.
  • Field of Blades: Kairos's Garden near the Academy is this. It is also a memorial to the fallen.
  • Field Trip to the Past: The Survival Test which takes place in the Cretaceous period.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Almost all of the recruits are MIAs from various points in history so they tend to clash with the other recruits and suffer from culture shock.
  • Garden of Evil: A Manticore ecology is extremely toxic and populated with predatory monstrosities. Both the toxic flora and fauna get bigger the deeper in one travels.
  • Geographic Flexibility: Saturn City has a lot of different areas for a single city including a park, prison, numerous recreation areas, and an Academy of Adventure.
  • Get into Jail Free: Hanns does not seem bothered when he is captured by the Aeon Legion.Because this is Hanns's plan. He needed a way to get into Saturn City. He actually plans to break into the Saturn City's archives and steal the city's entire historical database.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: Discussed and defied. Hanns mentions that stealing technology from the future would be worthless to them as they don't have the infrastructure to even maintain the stolen tech.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Since a Shieldwatch can restore most injuries by rolling back time. This allows the instructors to be extremely brutal to the recruits.
  • Gotta Kill 'Em All: What Kairos claims her mission is. Specifically, she plans to hunt down the Legendary Blades whose time travel has damaged time the most.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Legion has had several of these like the First Temporal War against a people called the Kalians who used advanced energy weapons. Also the Faceless War fought against monsters called the Faceless. It was the one war the Aeon Legion almost lost.
  • Healing Factor. The shieldwatch can roll back time to when its user was not injured. Its main limitation is that if the user's spine or brain is damaged, then they will lose their memory once restored. And it cannot bring the dead back to life.
  • Hero Academy: What Lycus wants the Aevum Academy to be.
  • Hidden Purpose Test: Most of the tests and training sessions. Particularly the first day which requires the recruits to attempt all three tests even though they are told the tests are optional.
  • High Turnover Rate: Aeon Legion training. The training starts with thousands and ends with around a hundred.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Faceless. God, the Faceless...
  • Immune to Fate: Those without a connection to fate are called nulls. Sybil cannot see them very well. A null's influence on events is usually negligible.
  • Infinite Supplies: The shieldwatch serves as a Matter Replicator and can easily create copies of most objects by moving areas around in time.
  • Lecture as Exposition: Centurion Shani delivers a number of these during the academic part of the Legion's training.
  • Legendary Weapon: The twelve Legendary Blades wielded by the longest lived and most powerful soldiers in the Legion. Only four are introduced. Some of the wielders even adopt the name of their weapon.
  • Living Forever is No Big Deal: How most Saturnians seem to regard immortality.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The Trial of Survival in the Labyrinth is full of predators from various time periods mixed together.
  • Named Weapons: Each Legionnaire's aeon edge is named and they also use that name as their alias. [[Spoiler: When Lycus is facing down the masked legionnaire and she refuses to give him her name, he asks for the name of her weapon instead, as that is the tradition.]]
  • Only One Me Allowed Right Now: When someone time travels, they become the 'original'. That original will override any other instance of that person when in the same time. This makes it impossible to meet yourself since you override your non time traveling self. It could be assumed that bringing another non time traveling version of yourself into the Edge of Time would also erase that instance since they did not time travel first. This makes it impossible to meet yourself.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: Seems to be a variant of wormhole time travel. In this case a shieldwatch moves the user into the Edge of Time where all time overlaps. From there they can move to another location in the Edge of Time which will shift their position when they return to normal time. Hanns's time machine seems to work by bridging both time and space. A legionnaire comments that this is unusual for time travel machines.
  • Perfect Health: Justified since the shieldwatch can restore their user to a healthy state.
  • Place Beyond Time: The Edge of Time where all time blends together. Also where Saturn City is.
  • Pleasure Planet: Saturn City has a massive industrial and research zone, but none of the citizens seem to care about it, spending most of their time partying instead.
  • Power Glows: The Temporal Singularity does this. Also the edge of the aeon edge blades.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Most of the native Saturnians are centuries old. Their age is marked by how many streaks of silver hair they have, as they get one silver lock per lifetime lived. It gets really hard to tell after their entire head goes silver, though.
  • Reforged Blade: Kiaros's old blade is reforged and given to Terra after she survives the Labyrinth.
  • Seers: Called Sybil in setting and are marked by the strange headpieces that cover their eyes. They use precognition to foresee time traveler's attempts to alter time as well as threats to Saturn City and alert the Legion. They cannot see nulls very well since nulls are people without a strong connection to fate.
  • Secret Test: The academy instructors love these. Like the interrogation test where the recruits are tricked into thinking they were abducted and tortured by an enemy force all to see if they could resist interrogation and escape on their own.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": The aeon edge has a non lethal setting that freezes anything it touches in a stasis field. Justified in that they often don't want to kill temporal criminals who may need to live on in their own times.
  • Shining City: Saturn City. Self proclaimed greatest city in human history. Saturn City citizens enjoy eternal youth and basically have all the time they want to dedicate to partying. Given the silvery white metal architecture, it is also a literal example of this trope as well.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The Manticore ecology gives this off with their bio luminescence.
  • Society of Immortals: Saturn City hosts such a society. Their population growth is stagnate to prevent overcrowding and what few new Saturnians are born are a result of a lottery with the rest of their limited growth coming from immigrants to serve in the Aeon Legion. Their culture also seems to consider ambition taboo.
  • Super-Reflexes: The shieldwatch can speed up the user's reflexes. This makes them very hard to hit even with bullets.
  • The Singularity: Most continua achieve one of these and it usually destroys them. Also refers to an object called a Singularity that allows singularity technology to be produced. It is the source of Applied Phlebotinum in the setting.
  • Sword over Head: Terra almost kills Hanns, but can't force herself to do it.
  • Time Crash: It's so bad that Saturnians use it as a curse word.
  • Time Stands Still: The shieldwatch can slow down, speed up, or stop time around the user.
  • Time Travel: Seems to operate on Timey Wimey rules.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Would you really expect one of the worst dictators in history to be named Devin?
  • Trial by Combat: A Trial of Blades is used to settle differences between legionnaires.
  • Training from Hell: The academy training program. Because of the shieldwatch's healing power the instructors can be as brutal as they want. There is no safety gear, no rules, and no hesitation as anyone who holds back is told to quit.
  • Transformation Sequence: The shieldwatch can summon a ring to pass around the user that changes both their age and clothing. It can be used for disguises.
  • Translator Microbes: Called a Sonic Cipher, these devices fit in a person's ears and provide real time translations.
  • Trapped in the Past: The Survival Test in which the Academy instructors throw the recruits into the Cretaceous period.
  • Tron Lines: The fadelines that allow quick travel between areas appear like this.
  • Written by the Winners: When Terra looks up war crimes in the First Temporal War, Saturn City is awfully evasive about their crimes while the Kalian war crimes seem overblown.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Most of the recruits since they are technically MIA in their own times. If they returned, then they would mess up history.