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The Lamb Among the Stars trilogy is a Christian science fiction series by Welsh author Chris Walley about the return of sin into the Lord's Assembly of Worlds. It examines how a civilization that has been at peace for thousands of years deals with the return of war, strife and hate. It primarily takes place on the planet at the edge of the Assembly, Farholme, and the primary heroes are Merral D'Avanos, a Farholme native, and Verofaza Laertes Enand, or Vero for short, a Sentinel (a guardian of sorts) from "Ancient Earth".
Walley manages to take a Christian worldview and turn it into a truly exciting series that would benefit greatly from a film or TV show due to his rather cinematic writing style.
There are three books in the trilogy:
- The Shadow and the Night (originally two seperate books that were joined to avert Trilogy Creep)
- The Dark Foundations
- The Infinite Day
This series provides examples of:
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Averted, sort of. One point of the series is that one can't reliably program morals into a computer. When an A.I. shows up, it's completely amoral and only cares about itself, but it realizes that being an Omnicidal Maniac is not a good idea. It always wants to be on the winning side, but won't do any active sabotage and will help someone if it doesn't hurt its plans in any way. This means that an A.I. isn't going to care if you're hurt, but that it won't hurt you if it isn't necessary.
- All Planets Are Earthlike: Completely averted. All of the Assembly worlds, besides Earth itself, were originally sterile planets with no ability to support life until they were terraformed.
- And I Must Scream: Nezhuala, at the end.
- Apocalypse How
- The aforementioned volcanic planet is a Class 6.
- At the end of the trilogy, the villain tries to perform a Class X-4/Z (in that there is only 1 Universe to begin with) by fusing the normal universe with Hell. He fails, when the device used has something done to it and fuses the Universe with Heaven.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome
Merrel: "You remember when you said there were people who would follow me to the gates of hell?"
Vero: "Yes. A figure of speech."
Merrel: "You'd better find them. That's where we're going."
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming:
- Merral scattering seeds across a Dominion "World of the Dead"
- At the end, the Envoy to Betafor
Envoy: "Do you acknowledge humans as the firstborn?"
Betafor (head hanging down): "Yes."
Envoy: "Then my Master would have you become more than you are."
- Crystal Spires and Togas: The Assembly, or at least, what it's trying to be.
- Earthshattering Kaboom: The Gate midway through the first book.
- Eldritch Abomination: The demons.
- Face Heel Turn: Note that they aren't directly working with the Dominion (antagonists' society), but they are falling from what the good guys are supposed to be.
- Five-Man Band
- God: Who the Assembly worships. Actually appears in person at the end of the trilogy.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Ape-Creatures (Chimpies) and Cockroach-Beasts (Bug-Boys). Genetically modified slaves that cannot reproduce naturally and must be cloned. They are a combination human and ape or cockroach (respectively) that horrifies the Assembly characters. The Dominion characters barely even notice them. They are barely intelligent and can't function on their own as well.
- Heel Face Turn: Azeras
- Betafor is more a Heel Face Revolving Door, that ends up on the Heroic side at last.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: It turns out that Below-Space is actually Hell in an extremely Warhammer 40000-like twist. Humans go crazy because monsters are constantly attacking the ships. In a subversion, praying to God, or the King as he is referred to in this series, for protection prevents the ships from being disturbed.
- Also Inverted: Above-Space, a.k.a. Heaven, has the same distance-shortening properties while traveling through it as Below-Space does.
- Kill Sat: Oddly, the Assembly has these. The first is the Vortex Blasters. They are for sterilizing an area where the terraformation has gone wrong, allowing the people of the planet to restart in that area. They are eventually used to destroy a series of armies poised to attack every major city on Farholme. The second is the Mass Blaster. They are apparently used to blast out sea beds. They are never used otherwise. The third is the Guardian Satellites. There are six in orbit around an Assembly planet, and they destroy any asteroids that show any sign of even looking at the planet they protect. One character mentions how she saw one of them vaporize a solid square kilometer of nickel-iron with minimal energy released. A Guardian is used to destroy one of the Dominion's most powerful battleships in three shots.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "I'm glad I believe that the Most High graciously governs our affairs. That the fate of the assembly might hinge on us alone would fill me with extreme terror!" Also a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- Mad Scientist: The Assembly has Gerry. She is incredibly distraught at losing her fiance, and begins to work on a polyvalent fusion bomb, the most powerful weapon in the entire setting. The Dominion has Ape: cybernetically augmented, can't speak, and the only one who understands the math and physics of how to bring about the end of reality; because of this, he can yell at the Emperor...and get away with it.
- Meaningful Name: Farholme. The planet where the story takes place, and the farthest out from the center of the Assembly.
- No Transhumanism Allowed: Justified. The Assembly apparently has the technology to replace lost limbs and such, but they don't allow anything greater than the patient's original abilities. This is because everyone's body is given by God and trying to be something else is saying that the Creator of everything is wrong. The Dominion encourages it, but there don't seem to be any real downsides. In fact, the Assembly characters are actually somewhat jealous of some of the advances, such as the "diary", basically a pda/phone thing, being incorporated right into the person. They still don't take the offer, because they want to honour God.
- Our Angels Are Different: The Envoy, as he is called, appears as a man with a large-brimmed hat who is almost constantly in shadow. This is also a case of Good Is Not Nice.
- Our Demons Are Different: They seem to have some sort of hierarchy, each level identified by how many there are. We only learn of the top two ranks: the Seven, and the One.
- Portal Network: A sort of example. The Assembly uses Below-Space Gates to get around, but they are confined to space and when two gates are linked together, they cannot be separated. They actually lead through some sort of hyperspace that apparently has negative effects on humans, so the gates were designed which create a tunnel of normal-space leading through Below-Space. The gates are less of a portal network and more of a series of tunnel entrances.
- Satan: The aformentioned One. The series villain, and apparently possesses Lord Emperor Nezhuala.
- Take That: "Why one popular series [of books dealing with sorcery] turned out to be nothing more than a fiction for kids!
- A more subtle one, but Walley says that the final judgement and separation would be folly to write about. Unlike, say, the Left Behind series.
- Technical Pacifist: All the Assembly characters as they are willing to fight to protect the Assembly, but would prefer not to have to fight at all.
- Technology Levels: The precise levels are somewhat hard to figure out, but the Assembly is incredibly advanced, despite focusing on peace. The Dominion was ravaged by war, but had far more advanced weaponry. Turns out that if the Assembly had time to weaponise, they would be unstoppable, due to the massive gap in technology levels.
- Terraform: Is stated to be the mission of the Assembly. Their method of terraforming worlds (referred to as Made Worlds) takes a very long time, and after 10,000 years of peace, there is still not one complete terraformation. They are also somewhat unstable in that sometimes it goes wrong. At one point, Vero mentions that the Made Worlders sleep in life-support suits in case the atmosphere vanishes or something. One planet is mention that had all the settlements buried in volcanic ash after the planet's core failed. The Dominion, on the other hand, is missing several important technologies the Assembly uses for terraformation, namely, the ability to adjust gravity, thus leaving their planets with really horrible orbits. They seem to be rather jealous of the Assembly.
- That's No Moon: The Blade of Night. It isn't disguised as anything else, but it is essentially an elevator right into the lowest levels of Hell. Even considering the part that is in Hell, the visible section is absolutely massive and is visible from the surface of the Earth when it is nearby.
- The Corruption: The evil that begins to seep through Farholme. It honestly acts like a spiritual virus with symptoms like: Fear of Death (In a setting that has Heaven explicitly exist), excessive jealously in the sides of a town split in two by a huge cliff and willingness to lie, cheat, hate and disregard the laws of the Assembly. Doesn't sound too bad, until you realize that the Assembly has been most without these things for eleven thousand years.
- The first sign of coming trouble is a small, white lie. And it horrifies the main protagonist, because this not only just is not done, it hasn't been done for 11 millennia.
- The Rebellion: Subversion. Evil rebellion against a good government. Way back when the Assembly had only begun terraforming Alpha Centauri, a rebellion popped up because a faction of the Assembly wanted to adjust people to the planets as opposed to adjusting the planets for the people. Long story short, Assembly wins, blows up Alpha Centauri (which is still radioactive 10,000 years later) and has to blow the gate to Centauri.
- Trilogy Creep: Averted. As stated above, the first two books were edited together to form one book. The original titles were The Shadow at Evening and The Power of the Night.
- X Meets Y: Lord-Emperor Nezhuala's Dominion seems like an expy of the Imperium of Man from Warhammer 40000. In fact, the whole trilogy is like a version of Warhammer with the benevolent Christian God involved. The Dominion sacrifices people to random gods, who are actually demons, but are in a horrible state, while the Assembly worships God and has been blessed for thousands of years. It could also be described as Warhammer 40000 meets C.S. Lewis.