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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour: The Shadow and Night Day Two

CSSF Blog Tour

So here we are, day two of our look at The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley. And, as promised, here's my review:

This is the first time I've ever read Christian fiction and rooted for evil.

That may sound a little odd, especially coming from a poor parson such as myself. But I'll explain what I mean in a little bit.

Like I said yesterday, I was excited to read this book because it's science fiction. I'm still having a hard time identifying any "fantasy" elements in it (unless you count the heavenly messenger who shows up in the second book. Then maybe). That, along with what I said yesterday about the different eschatology, made this a fun read.

Walley has a gift for prose and it really helped him out throughout the books. As we follow Merral D'Avanos and Sentinel Vero as they try to discover the source of evil's new outbreak and combat it on the distant world of Farholme, Walley carries us along with his superb verbal crafting.

It was interesting to watch how almost completely sanctified humans would deal with evil's return, how some of them embraced it whole heartedly, how others tried to fight it only to be corrupted anyway, and how some were repulsed by it yet still found it in themselves. While I wonder if "Satan's little season" would really start as a trickle, as Walley portrayed it, I thought that the snowball effect was well thought out and well portrayed.

However...

Like I said, I was rooting for evil, especially in the first book. It wasn't that I wanted the forces of evil to win the conflict. I just wanted them to show up. Perhaps it's indicative of my fallen nature, both saint and sinner simultaneously, but I was getting a little antsy while I read the first hundred or so pages of The Shadow at Evening. I don't want to say it was boring while Merral investigated what was happening in Herrandown, but there were times when I had to force myself to keep reading and I would mutter, "Would evil just show up soon, please? I want some conflict!" It was only Walley's superb writing that kept me going.

Pacing seems to be an issue for Walley throughout the book. He takes a very slow approach to things. Even in the second book, The Power of the Night, things proceeded rather slowly. When I saw how long it was, I expected a number of confrontations with evil. Instead, we got just one at the end.

Maybe it's a personal preference. Maybe Walley was going for a more cerebral journey. But it's just my opinion.

I also took issue with some of the things that Walley considered "evil." For example, the first clear indication that evil returned seemed incredibly trivial to me. When I read what the sin was, I think I actually said, "That's it? Really?" Some of the sociological mores of the Assembly also seemed a bit odd as well. The courtship rituals, for example, didn't seem quite right to me. Much of what Merral went through in terms of romance seemed more intellectual than passionate. It just didn't ring true.

Now maybe that's just my own personal opinions tripping me up. But there you go. It's a good read if you don't mind a slow pace. And it certainly is thought provoking, if for no other reason than you get to play in another man's theological garden.

The last thing I'll say is this: a good indication for me as to whether or not I liked a book or to what degree is really whether or not I'll go after a book's sequels. If I loved a book, I'll go out and purchase them right away. If I hated a book, I'll avoid it like the plague.

So what about this book? Well, I'm certainly keeping my eye out for The Dark Foundations, but I'm not in a rush to find them.

Go off and see what everyone else has to say about this book:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Rebecca Grabill
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Heather R. Hunt
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

4 comments:

John (Grasping for the Wind) said...

Walley told me in an interview that the second and third books are a great deal more action packed. This first novel is a lot of foundation for what happens later.

Perhaps it is a little much, but I enjoyed the philosophy.

pixydust said...

"Would evil just show up soon, please? I want some conflict!"

LOL...this is great! Awesome review!

Fantasythyme said...

"the first clear indication that evil returned seemed incredibly trivial to me."

Maybe Wally was trying to show how evil sneaks up on you a little bit at time, and it seems trivial. But when you add all the small incidents together, you get a big conflict in the making.

Kait said...

I was kind of holding my breath waiting for the evil to show up, and then when his uncle lied I was all "it's right there! There's the evil! Get it, Merral!"