The Lamb Among the Stars Trilogy--Best Christian Sci-Fi Ever!

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  1. InTheLight

    InTheLight
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    The Lamb Among the Stars Trilogy is:
    The Shadow and the Night
    The Dark Foundations
    The Infinite Day

    by Chris Walley

    The Best Christian Science-Fiction Ever!

    I would suppose in my 50+ years I've read 3,000 novels. I like thrillers, mysteries, and science fiction. This is flat out the best Christian themed science fiction story I've ever read. If you've read this genre you know that most stories are either cliched rapture stories, or are poorly written, or have stock characters, or have poorly thought out science. The Lamb Among the Stars trilogy excels on every level. This story is better than the C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy. Better than The Christ Clone Trilogy. There really is nothing in the Christian genre that is comparable to this story, and really nothing in the secular arena as well. The closest comparison as far as an epic story taking place on a galactic level involving high technology, an alternative society, characters you truly care about, and thorny ethical and moral dilemmas, would be the Dune stories. I would say forget about categorizing it as the best Christian sci-fi I've ever read, it's one of the best sci-fi stories I've ever read. This review deals with the first book in the trilogy, The Shadow and the Night.


    From the book's jacket cover:
    It is the year of our Lord 13851. A trillion people live under the gentle rule of the Assembly on over a thousand Made Worlds. Peace and stability have reigned for nearly 12,000 years. War and evil are merely ancient history. But all that is about to change.

    On Farholme--a Made World at the edge of the Assembly--strange and troubling things are happening. Slowly, incredulously, a handful of people come to recognize the unthinkable: Evil has returned once more, and it must be fought.


    Chris Walley writes with sophistication, detail, and beauty. I can visualize Farholme's forests, oceans, wastelands, and cities. If I have any criticism it would be that at times the description of local settings might be a couple of sentences too much, but it's not off-putting. In fact, when it comes to describing the evil that infects the planet, the skillful descriptive writing is a strong asset. Also, there are maps at the front of the book which I found helpful.

    Travel between solar systems is accomplished through gate technology connected to wormholes that travel through Below Space. This is not a new concept to sci-fi but Walley puts a few twists on it to make it fresh. Likewise with the terra-forming of planets to make them habitable for humans. Everything in the environment is planned, maintained, cataloged, and adjusted. These are Made Worlds fit for human life. Most of the people have specific jobs related to tweaking the environment. Walley, who has a PhD in geology, does a great job describing the terra-forming process and necessary adjustments to Farholme.

    As for other technologies, characters use personal diaries, which seem to be a supercharged version of tablets that people are using nowadays. They are communication devices, cameras, word processors, navigation aids, etc., actually quite prescient of Walley (book was written in 2001). There are personal ground transports, either car-like devices or trains, shuttle crafts, interplanetary ships, and even horses are used. The technology is not obtrusive, not overly described or prominent to the story, just useful devices. There are rules and laws for the usage of technology, which naturally are broken by the evil doers, and lead to an ethical dilemma for others.

    Walley's society seems to mirror the early New Testament church, in that everybody shares things, no one is in need, people help each other. There are no rich nor poor, so no economic classes. It's not socialism, but I suppose that would come closest to describe it. For example, people use transportation but there is no mention of a fare, or buying tickets. Getting a replacement personal diary is not a purchase, it is issued to people. People have jobs and receive pay, called an allotment, and while there is some difference in pay grades, there is not a huge difference. In fact, one of the clues that evil had returned to Farholme was the request by some oceanographers that they get a pay raise. Another indicator was that some people were requesting a lawyer to resolve property disputes. I found this very interesting, and in context, almost humorous. Lawyers being in indication of evil, indeed! More: Women were reporting having pain in childbirth, and some women were giving birth eight months or less after having married.

    The characters are developed well and have conflicts, ambitions, and vulnerabilities. These characters grow and change to meet the challenges they face. The main character, Merral Stefan D'avanos, age 26, is a reluctant hero, somewhat in the mold of Paul Atreides of Dune, in that everyone expects him to step up and be a leader, but he isn't sure he's capable, nor does he want the job. Verofazza Laertes Enand (Vero to friends) is a Sentinel sent to Farholme from Ancient Earth. Generations of Sentinels have lived fairly boring lives over the past 12,000 years, been pretty much useless, up to now. Vero is highly analytical, a planner who moves cautiously.The sisters Anya and Perena Lewitz are interesting, strong characters, and seem to be destined for a romantic involvement with Merral and Vero. I say "seemed to be destined" because in Farholme society most marriages are arranged and Merral has a potential mate already lined up.

    A major theme in the book is the problem with knowing what sinning is after living in a sin free world for thousands of years. Examples: What is jealousy? If a 26 year old wants to do something his parents would oppose, is it a sin? What is temptation? How does one recognize it? Ethical problems: Is it OK to use force against evil? Is it the best way to confront and defeat evil? Why is secrecy necessary after 12,000 years of open society? What is a lie? What is merely stretching the truth? You think you know the answers but when you get immersed in Farholme and Assembly society, in the context of universal peace and harmony, the answers are not easy.

    Another theme in the book involves the unethical use of cloning (again not a new concept in sci-fi, but Walley bends it to fit the needs of the plot quite nicely.)

    As to the theology of the book, yes, the characters are Christians. However, they don't wear their beliefs on their sleeves, they simply live with their faith integrated into their lives. For unbelievers I would guess it's not overbearing. In fact, I was surprised to see a five star review given by an admitted atheist on Amazon. This is NOT a pre-trib, pre-millennial story. There is no rapture (the Great Intervention of 2052 where God changed the world is intriguing, as is the put down of the Great Rebellion in 2112, though neither are fully described, at least in the first book of the trilogy.) The eschatology in this story is definitely postmillennial. I would say the seeding of planets, terra-forming, then occupation by Christians is Jesus' Great Commission taken to the fullest!

    There are a couple of things I found fault with. I've already mentioned the sometimes overly descriptive prose. The other is the usage of meetings by the author where characters discuss what they should do next. This is a useful device to summarize the plot and remind the reader where the story has been and where it is going, but I found there were too many of these. For example, Vero and Merral will meet and discuss something, then two pages later Vero and Merral will meet with government leaders and have basically the same discussion. This is only a minor distraction though, and I had to come up with something negative to make this a balanced review, but really, that's all I could come up with. Another thing--I noticed other reviewers thought the story started out slowly and I remember having that same thought the first time I read the books. However, this time through I didn't think that at all. (I remember the same thing the first and second time I read "Dune".)

    I really want to tell more, dying to tell, because I loved this story, but that would be spoiling it. I will say that I read this trilogy years ago, and I'm back into it again, it's that good. When I learned the nature of the evil unleashed on Farholme it really creeped me out. The conflict with it and the necessary response to it is where the book really takes off. The final confrontation with the revealed evil at the end of the first book literally send shivers up and down my spine.

    If you like science fiction you need to read these books! If you thought the Left Behind books were good (and I quit after the fourth book), well it's time you graduate to some really good plotting and writing. If you have Amazon Prime and a Amazon Kindle device you can read it for free. Otherwise you can buy on Amazon and read it on your Kindle App. Or check your library. I just finished reading The Shadow and Night by borrowing the book from my library, I bought the second book, Dark Foundations used on Amazon for $3.99 (free shipping), as my library didn't have it, and I'll either buy The Infinite Day used on Amazon or else check my library for it.

    The Best Christian Science-Fiction Ever! Read it!
     
  2. Deacon

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    I'll give it a shot (even though I find in hard to believe you read four books of the Left Behind series)! :tongue3:

    I picked up a hardback of the first book for $0.21 on Fetchbook.info

    Rob
     
    #2 Deacon, Aug 20, 2014
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  3. InTheLight

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    That is a great deal. I'll have to check that site out to see if I can get book #3. Please post your thoughts when you are done, or even while you are reading it. My 17 yr. old son is reading the first hardback now, is about 2/3 of the way through it and is loving it.
     
  4. just-want-peace

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    Just downloaded #1, after reading the sample from Amazon, and am totally hooked at this point - chapter 4.

    I love good sci-fi, but haven't found any that "floated my boat" for quite a while -------- til now!!

    Thanks for the recommendation. :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  5. InTheLight

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    You're welcome! Looking forward to more input from you. Kind of a methodical set up early on but then the tension just builds and builds.

    4.6 out of 5 star reviews on Amazon, 51 total ratings. That's rarefied air.

    I had to return book 1 to the library yesterday. All my book renewals were used up and it was an inter-library loan, so I couldn't renew it again. My son was bummed out. I ended up buying book 1 off of Amazon for $.18 (with $3.99 for shipping.) Should be here by next Wednesday.
     
  6. Deacon

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    I'm enjoying the book so far. It's certainly engaging!

    I'm only reading a single chapter most evenings since I'm currently reading an unusually large number of books.

    The author is long on words... something I only really appreciate the second time I enjoy a book.

    I'm quite a ways into the story and still working through the eschatology of the author; it's not as obvious as one might think - I think that's good.

    Rob
     
  7. InTheLight

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    Glad to hear.

    That will change as you get deeper into the story.

    Yes, I noticed this my first time through the book. It will lessen as you get further into the plot.

    You will pick up clues here and there as you read. That's kind of a bonus to the book--trying to figure out his theology, not just on eschatology but on other matters. He's pretty solid across the board, IMO. I liked the way these believers lived the Christian life without a second thought....until, you know...
     
  8. just-want-peace

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    Finished the first one, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Was EXTREMELY refreshing to read a total novel with NO profanity or sex scenes.
    There were hints of sexual innuendo, but the theme of the novel used them to great effect, as opposed to a cheap thrill.
    In my mind I sorta pictured the conditions at the beginning as I envision the millennium.

    Have downloaded the sample for the other 2, but have not got into them yet.

    This may be like the "LEFT BEHIND" series; I read the first & loved it, but never could get into the sequels. We'll see!!
     
  9. InTheLight

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    There was the one kissing scene which was well described.

    Yes, exactly. I thought the same thing and then when evil returns it is like when Satan is let loose "for a little season". Rev. 20:3


    I think you will like the sequels. These books are somewhat intense, it's like you need a break before continuing with the next one. The second book takes a dark turn and and has another character's POV. I love reading these books and trying to figure out what part of Revelation (or other prophecy) is being described. The last 100 pages of the third novel brings it all together quite satisfyingly.
     
    #9 InTheLight, Sep 9, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2014
  10. just-want-peace

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    OK, you've convinced me!
    I'll take a stab at #2; but in a couple of weeks. :thumbs:
     
  11. Deacon

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    Okay, I ended up reading to the wee hours of the morning last night and woke up 45 minutes later than I usually do.... :BangHead:
    (I haven't done that for a while)

    Good book! I look forward to reading the next one.

    Rob
     
  12. InTheLight

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    I went through a lengthy phase of only reading e-books via Kindle. My infatuation with e-books has been temporarily sated.

    I've finally started the second book in the trilogy. Author has created an evil overlord for the ages in Lord-Emperor Nezuhuala. First chapter gave me the creeps. Nezuhuala could make Darth Vader quake in his boots.
     
  13. Deacon

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    The first book was a keeper! I really liked the way he made the weakness of the earth-born character into a strength that the Lord used to further his work.

    While I enjoyed the second book, I have set aside the third one for a while.

    • It's relies quite a bit more on a vague extra-space travel method I find hard believe.
    • The author continues with over developing his dialogue sequences making for long somewhat boring, easily skipped pages.

    Rob
     
  14. InTheLight

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    IIRC, I think the travel mentioned is via "Below Space" and is achieved using supernatural methods employing a demonic entity as "pilot". (I haven't gotten to this part in the 2nd book and I can't remember specifics from the first time I read the book years ago.)

    Yes, the author does like dialogue.
     
  15. InTheLight

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    OK, I finally read the second book. Finished it in six reading sessions.

    The Dark Foundations by Chris Walley

    This is book two of the Lamb Among the Stars Trilogy. This story picks up where the first book ended. The evil that took root after 13,000 years of sinless Assembly society might have been defeated at Farholme, the furthest of the Made Worlds from Earth, but that is only because evil underestimated the resolve of inexperienced Christian warriors.

    Lord-Emperor Nezhuala has decided to throw the weight of his demonic forces and an overwhelming number of Dominion soldiers against Farholme, utterly destroy it, and make it an example of his power in his war with the Assembly.

    Merral D'Avanos, the shy, reluctant leader of the Farholme Defense Forces along with Vero Enand, his right hand man and military planner, must figure out a way to defeat Nezhuala's forces.

    This book was enjoyable because it deals with how Christians react to the reintroduction of evil into their world. It contains themes of obedience, loyalty, perseverance, and faith, as well as deep questions of ethics and conduct. Is violence an appropriate reaction to evil? Is the enemy of my enemy my friend? How much admiration should citizens have for their leaders? Should the leaders accept their praise? What are the consequences for disobeying God?

    Another enjoyable aspect of reading the book was trying to figure out the eschatological events that occur. The reintroduction of evil is obviously a reference to Revelation 20:3, where God releases Satan "for a little while". Jorgio, an old man that has visions in his dreams is obviously a fulfillment of Joel 2:28. Nezhuala's "Blade of Night", though not found in scripture is an obvious update of the Tower of Babel found in Genesis. The two ambassadors that are sent by Nezhuala to Farholme to make peace is apparently an oblique reference to Daniel 9:27.

    There are a lot of characters to get to know and a lot of plot build up. This makes for a somewhat slow, but not boring first half of the book, as Farholme makes preparations for the landing of the Dominion ships. As in the first book there is a lot of dialogue and planning. I felt that some editing could have tightened up the first half of the book. When Betaford, an artificial lifeform along with Azeras, the lone survivor of the Dominion forces from the first book are discovered in a remote area of Farholme the action starts to pick up. I don't want to give away details, but I will say the character that ultimately wields the sword striking the decisive blow is a super surprise and a satisfying one at that.

    The book ends with an obvious set up for a sequel.

    "Vero, you remember you once said there were people who would follow me to the gates of hell?"
    Vero nodded, "A figure of speech."
    "We'd better find them. That's where we're going."

    The next book in the trilogy is "The Infinite Day", and I know there are no sequels after that!
     
    #15 InTheLight, Jan 13, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2015
  16. InTheLight

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    Just finished the third book.

    The Infinite Day by Chris Walley

    This is book three, the final book in the Lamb Among the Stars Trilogy. I was greatly disappointed. Not disappointed in the story, it totally rocked, but disappointed that the journey has ended. No longer being able to read about Walley's dynamic characters--their adventures, successes and failures, and the way the situations they were thrown into challenged and changed them, is disappointing. It's over and I wish it wasn't. (And it is emphatically over!)

    The return of evil to a universe of harmony after 11,000 years of peace creates ethical dilemmas for the Assembly. They break into two camps, the Counter-Current who believe the Assembly should not arm, should not fight, but should trust in God to save them and the Defense Forces who believe the Assembly must fight to protect their society. After the Assembly is brazenly attacked the choice is made clearer--arm for war. Doing nothing is seen as an aid to the evil besetting them.

    But what about arming? Once on a war footing more ethical decisions must be made--what should be kept secret, what should be open? What about an intelligence service? Do we really need to employ spies to spy on our own people? Is it a sin to utilize camouflage? After all, that's intentional deception, basically lying, isn't it? What about assassination as a strategy? What if the Assembly could develop a weapon that could destroy a sun? And use it on the evil Dominion's solar system, utterly annihilating them and the Blade of Night, instantly ending the war. Should it be used?

    While the Assembly struggles with these questions, and so many more, rival factions begin to develop, hardliners led by the charismatic Delastro, the official prebendant of the congregations, who establishes the Guards of the Lord, a special branch of the military devoted to purity, dedication, and unity. He is opposed by the Sentinels, the centuries old group devoted to spotting evil and warning about it.

    This book is action packed. There is a continual build-up to a grand resolution through a sequence of skirmishes, battles, strategies, duplicity, betrayal, and self-sacrifice. There are double crosses, plot twists, showdowns, and unexpected deaths to characters. A particularly intense section of the book is when Merral D'Avanos, the former forester now reluctant leader of the Farholme Defense Forces attempts a rescue of 30 hostages being held at the evil Lord-Emperor Nezhuala's "Blade of Night". This is literally Satan's stronghold in the universe. I won't spoil it by telling what happens, but rest assured I was riveted, no welded, to the edge of my seat. This is approximately half-way through the book and it keeps getting better.

    There are several space battle scenes in the book which were refreshingly not clich├ęd because the Farholme Defense Forces literally had never participated in one. There's dialogue like this:

    "Two Assembly ships destroyed. Missiles on their way."
    "On their way, where!? Merral shouted. "Whose missiles?"
    "Sorry sir. Missiles--their missiles--on their way to remaining Assembly vessels."
    "Second frigate now visible, sir. Mutual targeting." Helga's voice was soft.
    Merral experienced a flurry of panic. What does 'mutual targeting' mean? Of course, we are targeting each other.

    After the deaths of many crew members, including some close to Merral, he has a breakdown of faith and becomes discouraged, questioning his God and savior. Eventually, through the duplicity of the Guards of the Lord, Merral and Vero are stranded on a developing Made World and left to die. However, things get worse because the Dominion learn of his whereabouts and hunt him down. Through the trials he faces surviving on this planet, he regains his faith, is renewed and is ready for the ultimate showdown with Lord-Emperor Nezhuala.

    In a strange mash-up of eschatology (part of the enjoyment of the book is trying to figure out the author's theology) this final showdown takes place in Israel, back on Earth. The last one-quarter of this book is a breathless race to the finish, literally the end of the age. Can't spoil it for you but I will say it is immensely satisfying, and as the book jacket declares, "a triumph of imagination."

    I've said it before and I'll say it again--"The Lamb Among the Stars", the best Christian sci-fi ever written and one of the best sci-fi stories in its own right. There are 44 reviews on Amazon for a composite score of 5 stars. There are 41 five star reviews, 2 four star reviews, and 1 two star review. I am not alone in my assessment of these books.
     
    #16 InTheLight, Feb 6, 2015
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