“The Shock of Night” Book Review Day 1
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
I have not finished this book. Why? It is long, true. But, it is immersive. I’ve found myself going back and re-reading chapters after I have understood more about the world in which this story is told. Again, this is NOT a criticism. Rather, it is a reflection of a dense, multilayered, well developed world. At the heart of every science fiction and fantasy novel is world building.
I’ve read many novels in which there are weaknesses in the world framing the story. Such contrivances can torpedo a story, especially when “deus ex machina” swoops in to save the day. In my own writing, I’ve adopted some ideas from a surprising source.
Ravi Zacharias is an amazing speaker, preacher, and author whose efforts in the field of apologetics provides thinking Christians with tools to defend the truthfulness of the Christian faith. In his organization’s teaching series, “ASK” he talks about the concept of a worldview: a set of assumptions you have made through which you look at every choice you must make in life to shape your values and your spiritual condition as you live our your every day life. He then goes on to instruct us on how to test a worldview. It must have: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance. Finally, in testing a worldview it must have correspondence (that is corresponds to reality) and coherence (holds together).
I would like to focus on three key concepts of “world building” executed brilliantly in “The Shock of Night” by Patrick W. Carr. These three concepts are: Logical Consistency, Correspondence, and Coherence. I’ll talk about each topic on each of the three days of this book review.
In our postmodern, relativistic culture, logic tends to get lost in our daily thoughts. And yet, it is fundamental to our thought processes. We still look both ways before we cross the street! And, particularly in storytelling, logic is essential. Many fantasy novels utilize magic or metaphysical powers from some magical source. In “The Shock of Night”, Patrick W. Carr does a masterful job of creating a world of “gifts” given by “Aer”, the divine source of everything. These “gifts” are desired by different division of the “church”. The principle of “Tolerance” allows these competing factions within the church to present their argument for how “gifts” should be used by those few who are blessed enough to receive them. These “criers” present in the public square their opinions and this device serves to establish the logical foundation upon which everything in the story occurs.
The “Servants” say “The purpose of man is to serve others, placing them above himself. If every man looks to use his gift in his own interest, we will descend into selfish barbarity.”
The “Vanguard” say “I must take issue with my brother. While service is a noble goal, there will always be evil in this world. Unless we are bold in confronting the enemy’s malice, servanthood will only provide fuel for its excesses. The gifts of Are are given so that we might eradicate evil from the world.”
The “Absold” say “While I can sympathize with the desire to serve and to fight evil, as my brother and sister so eloquently express, I must disagree. Our principle purpose here is not dependent on what we do, but on what we are. We are all fallen. Only by extending forgiveness freely to each other, in imitation of Aer’s forgiveness for us, can we free ourselves from those internal chains that make us less than we are. Then you will see your gift shine forth.”
The “Merum” say “The strictures are these, You must not delve the deep places of the earth, you must no covet another’s gift, and above all you must honor Aer, Iosa, and Gaoithe in all.”
And then, there are those who say, “How many of you have waited on your knees with your prayers turning to ashes in your mouth, hoping that somehow your talent and work might be enough? . . . what are you hoping for? That someone will die unexpectedly or without an heir and somehow a gift will come to you? I speak for the Clast, and I’m here to ask you this: What right does some rich man’s family have to hoard their gifts from generation to generation and keep you poor?”
In this powerful scene in the public square, Patrick W. Carr has laid out the logical progression of how tension and strife over the possession of “gifts”, fueled by divisions within the church become the foundation for the drama that will unfold throughout the story.
Is this logical? Yes, in the realm of the Christian worldview it is. We know all about the “gifts” of the Holy Spirit given by God. We know how these gifts work with our God given talents and our life’s experienced skills and wisdom to serve as tools for God’s work. Here, in this story, this gifts become the “magic” abilities needed by the characters to give this wonderful fantasy a believable and logical foundation. It makes sense and it doesn’t have to rely some arbitrary change in rules to continue the story. Most of us can readily identify with different attitudes about spiritual gifts and how Christians should exist in a world increasingly hostile to our faith.
The main character, Lord Dura, serves as King Laidir’s “reeve” to investigate crimes in the kingdom. As Lord Dura investigates the violent death of an elderly Servant, he journeys to the House of Passing where the injured man has been taken to die. As the Servant dies, something happens to Lord Dura that alters his life forever. Does it have something to do with the Servant’s gift? Has Lord Dura, an ordinary man without the backing of wealth or position most gift possessors have, acquired a powerful gift? Who attacked the Servant and why?
Within this world of inter-church conflict and the struggle to hoard and acquire gifts a powerful story unfolds as a great evil has led to the death of this powerful Servant. Patrick W. Carr has used a powerful tool of worldview construction to build a deep, immersive world in which the story logically provides foundation for a powerful story!
Tomorrow, I will talk about Correspondence. Does this story and the world in which it takes place correspond to reality?
Thomas Clayton Booher
Carol Bruce Collett
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
If you are looking for great Christmas presents, there are four books now in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel and can be ordered from this website. If you know someone suffering from depression at this time of the year check out my book, “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression” at conquering depression.com.