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The Shadow of Night by Chris Walley

The Shadow and Night (The Lamb Among the Stars, Book 1) by Chris Walley is the first two books of The Lamb Among the Stars series, previously published as The Shadow at Evening and The Power of the Night.

12,000 years in our future, the people of Earth are fulfilling the commandment to fill the universe by emulating their Creator, terraforming worlds and colonizing them. These Made Worlds were made possible by launching sophisticated terraforming ships which analyze the suitability of each new world and then shape the world to be fit for humankind: slowing the rotation of the planets, adding atmosphere, blasting areas for seas, and seeding the world with bacteria and other life. These ships then build what is essentially a hyperspace or wormhole Gate back to previously settled worlds with Gates, thus networking the human civilization.

Farholme is the farthest outpost that humankind has colonized. The world is described as a frontier where foresters and oceanographers continue to monitor the effects of the earlier terraforming and are ensuring a balance. Farholme is part of the Assembly of Worlds, a confederation of Christian peoples who are living in harmony and without apparent sin. The conceit is that after the Great Intervention (an event not yet fully explained or explored in this novel), humankind is living in what I’d call a pre-Fall state. There are no wars, there is no strife, and each person is fulfilled.

The Assembly had dealt with a Rebellion some 10,000+ years earlier and had laid down a series of strictures which prohibit certain activities which, when followed to their ends, may border on sin.

Now, on Farholme, disturbing events begin to unfold: a man modifies a copy of a historical voice to fill in for a musical part he was missing, residents begin to lock their doors and fear the night, certain town precincts begin to feel that their neighbors are looking down on them, and engagement and commitment traditions fall to the wayside.

Merral of the forestry service and Vero, a Sentinel whose profession was created to watch for spiritual problems, come face-to-face with the return of evil to the Assembly and must relearn how to misdirect their adversary, train soldiers who may have to react with violence, and come to grips with new moral failings in their own lives.

One thing that I found fascinating, particularly in the first half of the book, was the surprisingly odd tone, inflection, and almost stilted language of Farholme. Part of that, I am sure, was due to creating a distance between our civilization and theirs in time, but it also seemed to me that it reflected the differing motivations of the pre-Fallen. There is no deception, there is no intention of hurting another, and there is a contentment in one’s profession and relationships. (I’m choosing to believe that this was an intentional writing style.)

The book is a bit of a slog at least through the first quarter or so, because Walley has to do a bit of world building and show a bit of how the world exists before the darkness begins to spread. The last third moves at a much higher pace.

I’ve read a number of Christian science fiction and fantasy novels, but this one is unique. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

4 out of 5 stars

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  1. December 20, 2010 at 11:35 pm
  2. January 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm

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