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The Infinite Day by Chris Walley

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Infinite Day is Chris Walley’s conclusion to his Lamb Among the Stars series and it is a very powerful and action packed volume.

The book continues right where The Dark Foundations left off.  Farholme has seemingly driven off the Dominion’s vanguard, but have taken hostage Merral’s former love and other members of the planet’s delegation.

Simultaneously, two renegade leaders (one political, the other who presents himself as a holy religious figure) speed toward Earth, having stolen a Dominion ship which allows them to travel Below Space without going through the Gate technology.  These leaders have twisted the truth and have committed acts of evil, all in the name of good.  Their mission:  to ready the rest of the Assembly of Worlds and to deliver the plans and delivery method for utterly destroying the Dominion’s worlds (and potentially produce waves of destruction throughout that part of space).  Delastro, who has accepted the religious mantle, wants to control the spiritual beings like the Envoy (essentially an angel sent by the Lamb as Guardian — Michael perhaps?) and if he cannot, he is willing to dabble with fallen creatures instead.  While Delastro shows himself capable of killing anything that interferes with his goals, Clemant merely looks the other way and acts as collaborator.

Merral, Vero, and a quickly assembled crew have their own mission:  to intercept the hostage ship deep in the Dominion territory,  speed to Earth to counteract Delastro and Clemant’s falsehoods, and warn the Assembly of an imminent invasion.

While Earth and the Assembly are tested — will they remain steadfast to the Lamb? — individuals are also tested.  Merral’s loss of faith — how can God allow these evil things to happen when He has the power to prevent them? — and his ultimate acceptance of grace is powerful.  Sacrifices will be required; some will be made and others will not.

The ending of the book is completely satisfying, although the author does give the reader a choice:

Now, you who have followed this tale so far, I offer you a choice.  You may make an ending here.  After all the strands of the plot are all but tied up, and you can imagine the rest….

….

All this you may choose to imagine.

Or, you may continue and read what did happen.  Because the reality was far stranger, more horrific, and ultimately, far more glorious.  (p. 551)

This is one of the most unique series that I have ever read.  Certainly, it is slow in spots (particularly in the first book), but the journey is well worth the effort.

5 out of 5 stars (finished January 2, 2011)

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Currently reading:  Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom & The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

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The Dark Foundations by Chris Walley

December 20, 2010 1 comment

The Dark Foundations continues the plotline of The Lamb Among the Stars as a direct sequel to The Shadow and Night, which I read in November.  As with the first novel, it posits a Christian society far in the future which is in a millennial state of grace, without apparent sin.  This period of grace, however, is being tested by the Lamb through the agency of the Dominion, the descendants of a splinter group which broke from the Assembly thousands of years before.

Right from the opening pages, Walley reveals the nature of the Dominion and its Lord-Emperor, Nezhuala.  In the Dominion, Nezhuala has consorted with extra-physical beings (spiritual beings analogous to demons) who have been restrained from entering the Assembly and who can only manifest in the physical world with great difficulty.  I found the author’s skillful creativity of using viable terminology for what we’d consider demonic beings and events.

Back on the planet Farholme, access to the Assembly has been severed by the destruction of the hyperspatial Gate.  On their own and contaminated by evil spiritual beings that the Dominion refugees brought to the world, the Farholme citizens must begin to arm themselves against a larger attack force.

It was refreshing to see the development of Merral D’Avanos, a forester turned military leader, and Vero Enand, who becomes the head of the defense force’s intelligence branch.  These men, while striving to be true, occasionally fail, leading to poor choices and grea sorrow from their moral failures.  And, of course, sacrifices must be made and accepted.

The Lamb, however, does not abandon His children and sends his Envoy to talk with key leaders, delivering messages from the Most High but also ensuring that mankind’s free will is paramount.  The Envoy (a messenger, or angel) is a fascinating character since he/it often comes across as cold and stern.  Instead, however, I saw this aloofness as Walley’s way of showing how these beings might be compassionate, yet perhaps not completely comprehending the human condition and weaknesses.

The plot definitely quickens through this book as Walley has to spend less time on the worldbuilding aspects.

A very enjoyable read with and unresolved ending that will hopefully be concluded in the last volume.  I can honestly say that I have read nothing like this before.

4 1/2 stars out of 5 (finished December 5, 2010)

The Shadow of Night by Chris Walley

November 24, 2010 2 comments

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