Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Lamb Among the Stars Part 3: The Infinite Day

Title: The Infinite Day

Series: The Lamb Among the Stars #3

Author: Chris Walley

Genre: Late YA (16+) Apocalyptic Sci-fi

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Infinite Day:

The lord-emperor Nezhuala stared at the Blade of Night through the porthole of the tiny autoshuttle.

“It is finished,” he said, his words barely audible above the vibrating rumble that enveloped him. He found himself held spell-bound by the scale of the structure. Even riding at four hundred kilometers an hour, it would take him nearly sixty minutes to travel from the facilities at the summit to Way Station Nine, the lowest level the craft could safely reach. From there he would take the elevator to the base.

I need to make this journey. There are issues I have to raise with the powers. I do not trust the high priests, and my commanders are little better. He heard himself give a small groan. And I need advice on the war. I have to be sure that the powers will act on our side. They all need to put forth their strength, and especially the One.

He looked out of the porthole again. It was not just the scale of the Blade that overpowered him; it was also its complexity. While at a distance it looked like a smooth needle, this close—barely a kilometer above it—he could see that the surface was interrupted by a varied array of immense struts, tensioning devices, and thrusters. Far from being a static structure, the Blade of Night was a dynamic construction. He passed over a vast towing point. And, when the time is right, it will be moved.

“And I built it,” he whispered. A bridge between the realms! One of the greatest achievements of mankind—grater than the mausoleums of the Worlds of the Dead, greater than any fleet of starships ever assembled. As great as the Assembly Gate network—but that had taken them millennia and incalculable armies of men and machines. And this was made by me!


A forester-turned-commander and his friends arm themselves against the evil encroaching on their worlds.

The Craft: The Infinite Day is a book of rich language and detailed descriptions. In places, it slows down the story. In others it helps increase the tension. But overall it provides a colorful background for an intricate story.

Like the language, the characters of Infinite Day are complex and detailed. Ranging from the heroic to the villainous, with many divided hearts between, the characters have become fully human. Virtues and vices span the spectrum, mixed and matched until—like real life—it’s not always clear who is on which side. Yet all the choices, both heroic and villainous, are understandably motivated, occasionally spawning sympathy for the villains and frustration and fear for the heroes. The human heart is truly contains worlds of potential, both for good and evil.

The plot continues to be complicated. Some twists are predictable. Others are not. But all forms a cohesive book—a somewhat amazing feat considering the amount of time, space, and points-of-view it covers—with plenty of tension, every thread coming together for a dramatic climax.

Which brings me to the end. Important in any story, the climax and wrap-up are vital to the final book of a series. Many of the series I’ve read fail in this area, often leaving me with mixed emotions. The Infinite Day does better than most. The one irritation was the author intrusion that presented an alternate ending. Knowing what else could be in ways takes away from what is, especially for a happily-ever-after reader like me. Nonetheless, the real ending is quite satisfying.

That leads me to the one major flaw of this book: the intrusion of the author/omniscient narrator. Each appearance of that narrator jolted me out of the story and dissolved the reality made by the complex characters and detailed descriptions. Well-done narrative summary by a POV character would have been as effective, I believe, without the irritation to the reader. As it is, the frequent intrusions (especially during the last 100 pages) detract from rather than add to the tension.

One final warning: If it’s been a while since reading book 2, The Dark Foundations, it will take some time to get into the book and untangle the numerous characters and events.

The Content: Each successive story in The Lamb Among the Stars series has become a bit darker. It is expected, considering story structure and the predominate topic (evil), and The Infinite Day is not an exception to that rule.

So what makes this story so dark? Several different elements can contribute, but in The Infinite Day the main factor seems to be the overbearing sense of evil, both externally and internally.

Externally, the strength of evil increases to the point of hopelessness; more time is spent in enemy territory as evil acquires a human face; and the human tool is high, with several of the characters you’ve come to care about die. In addition, the spots of humor are few and far between, making the darkness even heavier.

Internally, readers must face the darkness of the human heart and the razor-thin line that barely separates hero from villain: every hero has the potential to become a villain and every villain has the seeds of a hero. Compounding this problem is the yearning for the redemption of certain characters—only to watch them walk away from that opportunity.

Is this darkness bad? I don’t think it is necessarily so. The death and violence are handled well so that you usually know what happen from one line of description and character reaction. The presence of evil forces the read to confront its many manifestations and nearness to each of us. But most of all, the darkness causes the light of truth to shine more brilliantly: God’s patience, His power and might, His outstretched hand of grace, the many opportunities for redemption even when not deserved, God’s trustworthiness when all things seem black, the wonder that He should set His love upon such a fickle creation.

Other notes: As an apocalyptic story, some of the events from Revelation are reflected within, often with an interesting and unusual twist. And also therein is contained a potent warning: no matter how close we think we are or are not to the end times, passivity is not right. Evil is evil and should be resisted by the child of God.

Finally, the occult is touched on several times, but it is always properly portrayed as something evil that will ultimately lead to trouble and destruction.

Summary: The Infinite Day is a story of complex characters and well-tensioned plot against a detailed background written in rich prose. Yes, the tale is full of darkness, but the light at the end rewards the effort of the traveler, bringing this series to a satisfactory conclusion. Highly recommended for teens and adults, and easily accessible to the reader not familiar with the sci-fi and fantasy genre.

Rating: 4 for writing, 5 for content, 4. 6 overall

Ready to buy The Infinite Day? Click here. Or also check out my reviews for The Shadow and the Night and The Dark Foundations.

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