Last Updated 2 months ago.History is full of mysteries, but also full of danger, especially for the historians who are working for the St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research.
What are The Chronicles of St Mary’s?
Written by Jodi Taylor, the English author of fantasy-style historical fiction and romance novels, not the English footballer Jodie Taylor, The Chronicles of St Mary’s series is a mix of sci-fi and historical fiction.
Behind the seemingly innocuous facade of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, a different kind of academic work is taking place. Just don’t call it ‘time travel’ – these historians ‘investigate major historical events in contemporary time.’ Their aim is to observe and document – to try and find the answers to many of History’s unanswered questions … and not to die in the process.
The Chronicles of St Mary’s Books in Order:
- The Very First Damned Thing (Short Story) – This prequel establishes the background of the series and how Dr Bairstow set up St Mary’s. It is advised to not read it as an entry to the series. Following the publication order, you can read it between books six and seven or before. Collected in the book The Long and Short of It.
- Just One Damned Thing After Another – At St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, the historians don’t just study the past, they revisit it. New recruit Max rides the catastrophe curve from eleventh-century London to the First World War, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake…
- A Symphony of Echoes – Despatched to Victorian London to seek out Jack the Ripper, things go badly wrong when he finds the St Mary’s historians first. Stalked through the fog-shrouded streets of Whitechapel, Max is soon running for her life. Again.
- When a Child is Born (Short Story) – It’s Christmas Day 1066, and a team from St Mary’s is going to witness the coronation of William the Conqueror. Or so they think… However, history seems to have different plans for them, and when Max finds herself delivering a child in a peasant’s hut, she can’t help wondering what history is up to. Collected in the book The Long and Short of It.
- Roman Holiday (Short Story) – An epic, stand alone tale set in Ancient Rome, 44 BC, featuring, in no particular order: an attempted murder, stampeding bullocks, Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, a bowl of poisonous snakes, a smallish riot, Julius Caesar, and Mr Markham’s wayward bosoms. Collected in the book The Long and Short of It.
- A Second Chance – It began well. A successful assignment to 17th century Cambridge to meet Isaac Newton, and another to witness the historic events at The Gates of Grief. So far so good. But then came the long-awaited jump to the Trojan War that changed everything. And for Max, nothing will ever be the same again. With the bloody Battle of Agincourt playing out around her, Max risks everything on one last desperate gamble to save a life and learns the true meaning of a second chance.
- A Trail Through Time – From a 17th century Frost Fair to Ancient Egypt; from Pompeii to 8th century Scandinavia; Max and Leon are pursued up and down the timeline, playing a dangerous game of hide-and-seek, until finally they’re forced to take refuge at St Mary’s – where a new danger awaits them.
- Christmas Present (Short Story) – It’s Christmas Eve at St Mary’s. It’s ten years ago tonight that Senior Historians Bashford and Grey went missing in 12th century Jerusalem. So how did they end up in AD60 Roman Colchester? Max has a theory. Peterson has a plan. Markham has bacon sandwiches. Colchester has Boudicca and her bloodthirsty Iceni hordes. And then there’s the giant pig … the enraged, giant pig… Collected in the book The Long and Short of It.
- No Time Like the Past – From being trapped in the Great Fire of London to an unfortunately timed comfort break at Thermopylae, which leaves the fate of the western world hanging in the balance, Max must struggle to get History back on track. But first, they must get through the St Mary’s Fete – which is sure to end badly for everyone.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong? — With great privilege comes great responsibility, something Max knows only too well, and as newly appointed Chief Training Officer at the St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, it’s up to her to drum this guiding principle into her five new recruits. With a training program that includes Joan of Arc, an illegal mammoth, a duplicitous Father of History, a bombed rat, Stone Age hunters and Dick the Turd, the question everyone is asking themselves is – what could possibly go wrong?
- Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings (Short Story) – It’s Christmas at St Mary’s and time for Max’s obligatory illegal jump. On this occasion, however, they’re right up against it. A loaded gun has been left behind in Ancient Egypt and it’s up to them to retrieve it before anyone accidentally blows their own head off, thus affecting the timeline for centuries to come. Collected in the book The Long and Short of It.
- Lies, Damned Lies, and History – Max has never been one for rules. They tend to happen to other people. But this time she’s gone too far. And everyone at St Mary’s is paying the price. With the History Department disintegrating around her and grounded until the end of time, how can she ever put things right?
- The Great St Mary’s Day Out (Short Story) –:The historians have to record the 1601 performance of Hamlet, with Shakespeare himself in the role of the Ghost. With Dr Bairstow and Mrs Mack turning a simple visit to a street market into a public brawl, Professor Rapson inadvertently stowing away on a vessel bound for the New World, and Shakespeare himself going up in flames, it would seem that Max, of all people, is the only one actually completing the assignment. Collected in the book The Long and Short of It.
- My Name is Markham (Short Story) – Like a smaller and much scruffier Greta Garbo – finally – Markham speaks! It’s Christmas and time for the first (and almost certainly last) St Mary’s Annual Children’s Christmas Party – attendance compulsory, by order of Dr Bairstow. Discovered practicing his illegal reindeer dance and poo-dropping routine, our hero, along with fellow disaster-magnets Peterson and Maxwell, is despatched to Anglo-Saxon England to discover the truth about Alfred and the cakes. Collected in the book The Long and Short of It.
- Desiccated Water (Short Story) – You can read this very short story here. Also Collected in the book Long Story Short.
- And the Rest is History – When an old enemy appears out of nowhere with an astonishing proposition for Max – a proposition that could change everything – Max is tempted. Very tempted. With an end to an old conflict finally in sight, it looks as if St Mary’s problems are over with. Can they all finally live happily ever after?
- Markham and the Anal Probing (Short Story) – You can read this little short story here. Also Collected in the book Long Story Short.
- A Perfect Storm (Short Story) – For Max, what starts off as a perfectly normal week is about to degenerate into a quagmire of egotistical film producers, monumental pub crawls, unsigned contracts, exploding rocks, Professor Rapson and his megaphone, the world’s biggest bacon butty – and Angus – the third component of the most notorious love triangle since Menelaus, Paris and Whatshername – the one with the face they launched ships off. Collected in the book The Long and Short of It
- Christmas Past (Short Story) – Max, Leon and Matthew – together at last for Christmas at St Mary’s. Donning her unfamiliar mother hat, Max takes Matthew back to 19th century London, where they plan to deliver a parcel of Christmas cheer to his former friends, but find themselves confronting the terrifying Old Ma Scrope in the process. Collected in the book Long Story Short.
- An Argumentation of Historians – A chance meeting between Max and the Time Police leads to a plan of action. And, it’s one that will have very serious consequences – especially for Max. Her private life is already more than a little rocky. But with Leon recovering and Matthew safe in the future there will never be a better opportunity to bring down Clive Ronan, once and for all.
- The Battersea Barricades (Short Story) – It’s the time of the Civil Uprisings and two young women set out to make a difference. Their only problem? They don’t know where they are. Or where they’re going. Or what to do when they get there. Other than that… Collected in the book Long Story Short.
- The Steam Pump Jump (Short Story) – Not one to let being banged up in Sick Bay stop her, Max has had a brilliant idea. But she needs Markham to execute it on her behalf. The subject of this cunning plan is Peterson, struggling with another bereavement and not doing very well. What’s needed to get him through it is sympathy, sensitivity, tact and understanding. Collected in the book Long Story Short.
- And Now For Something Completely Different (Short Story) – Every Christmas, for reasons which seem good at the time – especially after an eggnog or two – Max and the others leap into the nearest pod and indulge in their illegal Christmas jump. It’s a tradition. This year, however, just to be different, they find themselves part of someone else’s illegal Christmas jump. It’s time to don a spacesuit and bring your own urine! Collected in the book Long Story Short.
- Hope for the Best – Seconded to the Time Police to join in the hunt for the renegade Clive Ronan, Max is a long way from St Mary’s. But life in the future does have its plus points – although not for long. A problem with the Time Map reveals chaos in the 16th century and the wrong Tudor queen on the throne. History has gone rogue, there’s a St Mary’s team right in the firing line and Max must step up.
- When Did You Last See Your Father? (Short Story) – Have you ever wondered what would happen if Max’s husband met Max’s father? What would Leon do? They’re normally a fairly amiable bunch, but this is the story of what to expect if St Mary’s doesn’t like someone. As in, really doesn’t like someone. Warning: contains a unit-wide criminal enterprise, a great deal of illegal activity and a sad misuse of public resources. All the things a father will do to protect his family. It is also a story of revenge. Because this is payback – St Mary’s style. Collected in the book Long Story Short.
- Why is Nothing Ever Simple? (Short Story) – It’s Christmas at St Mary’s and time for the traditional illicit jump. Except this one is perfectly legal. It’s Major Guthrie’s last jump. To the Battle of Bannockburn, no less. An important moment in History for two nations – one that warrants everyone’s full attention. But Max soon finds herself grappling with a near-lethal game of pooh sticks, another avian incursion and two turbulent teenagers intent on piloting their own illegal jump.
- Plan for the Worst – You know what they say – hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Max is quite accustomed to everything going wrong. She’s St Mary’s, after all. Disaster is her default state. But with her family reunited and a jump to Bronze Age Crete in the works, life is getting back to normal. Well, normal for St Mary’s. And then, following one fateful night at the Tower of London, everything Max thought she knew comes crashing down around her. Too late for plans. The worst has happened. And who can Max trust now?
- The Ordeal of the Haunted Room (Short Story) – On the longest night of 1895, a terrible storm rages above Harewood Hall. Max, Markham and an injured Peterson are welcomed in by the Harewood family, but soon realise that, in true St Mary’s style, they couldn’t have arrived at a better moment. For tonight marks the Ordeal of the Haunted Room. Dum … dum … dum …
- Another Time, Another Place – It’s long been known that if a thing can go wrong, it will. With knobs on, usually. Disasters start to pile up. A new colleague with no respect for the past and a great deal to prove. Historians lost in time. And – worst of all – Rosie Lee on her very first jump. Then there’s the small matter of Max’s dishonourable discharge. From Tudor England to the Tower of Babel – it’s all going horribly wrong. Jobless and homeless, Max receives an offer she can’t refuse. Another time, another place. A refuge, perhaps. She’s got that wrong, too.
- A Catalogue of Catastrophe – Coming in 2022! Punching well above their weight, Max and Markham set out to bring down a sinister organisation founded in the future – with a suspicious focus on the past. Max’s focus is staying alive long enough to reunite with Leon and Matthew, alternately helped and hindered by St Mary’s. Who aren’t always the blessing they like to think they are. But non-stop leaping around the timeline – from witnessing Magna Carta to disturbing a certain young man with a penchant for gunpowder – is beginning to take its toll. Is Max going mad? Or are the ghosts of the past finally catching up with her?
Time Police, the spin-off of The Chronicles of St Mary’s
The Time Police is a spin-off series taking place later in the time (after the Time Wars). So you can read it after The Chronicles of St Mary’s.
- Doing Time – A long time ago in the future, the secret of time travel became known to all. Unsurprisingly, the world nearly ended. There will always be idiots who want to change history. Enter the Time Police. An all-powerful, international organisation tasked with keeping the timeline straight. At all costs. Their success is legendary. The Time Wars are over. But now they must fight to save a very different future – their own. This is the story of Jane, Luke and Matthew – the worst recruits in Time Police history. Or, very possibly, three young people who might change everything.
- Hard Time – There have always been idiots who want to change history. But now temporal tourism is on the rise. Highly illegal, highly risky – and highly lucrative. The Time Police despatch their toughest undercover agents to take out the perpetrators. Then the unthinkable happens. Replacements are needed fast and who better than three young officers who barely look the part? Step forward Team Weird – Luke, Jane and Matthew. They might still be in training. Their methods might be unorthodox. But, as the Time Police face their greatest ever threat, Team Weird might be their only shot at survival.
- Saving Time – Life is good for Team Weird, now heroes and fully fledged Time Police officers. Luke can’t wait to bear arms. Jane has a date. And Matthew still hasn’t had his hair cut. But Time waits for no one, and neither do criminal masterminds. A major threat to the Timeline is looming, one far deadlier than mere idiots who want to change history. And when a familiar face becomes a Very Important Lead, will conflicting family loyalties spell trouble for Team Weird? One missing. One guilt-ridden. And one facing the end of their Time Police career before it’s even begun. Not so good then, after all.
If you like The Chronicles of St Mary’s, you may also want to see our Laundry Files reading order, or our guide to Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.