The reason that the prologue is present in Chris Walley's novel is that the history of all this world matters. For twelve thousand years (can you imagine that time frame? I sure can't!) a barrier has kept Evil away from the Made Worlds.
And we're not just talking major evil here. We're talking teensy tiny baby evil. In the first chapter, Merral has a shocking suspicion about his uncle. It almost seems--though it can't be possible--that his uncle might have told a LIE! Inconceivable! People don't lie any more. They don't do any wrong. They haven't done wrong for twelve thousand years.
I pause a moment while you think about the repercussions of that premise.
Now, let's switch gears and talk about fiction. Fiction pretty much demands good guys and bad guys. We are cautioned, as writers, against making our main characters too perfect. Readers can't identify with flawless characters.
So if the premise of your novel actually DEPENDS upon a perfect world and perfect characters, what's a writer to do? In The Shadow and Night, Chris Walley chose to show the perfection. This sets up a slow beginning. It pretty much has no option at that stage.
So now, by page 485, Merral and company have engaged Evil several times. And the action is getting rolling.
I wrestle with this. I think I would have tried to send this story idea back where it came from as impossible to pull off. I'm not completely sure Chris Walley DID pull it off, but I have to say, hat's off to him for a valiant effort. This is a really tough story to make work.
And honestly, I'm sure I'll finish it in the next few days. Because now I want to. I did get another 50 pages or so read last night.
So, this is a Christian novel, but is the concept of future human perfection (outside of heaven itself) really a Christian idea? Blogger John Otte presented a Millenial Primer on his post Monday.
For folks like me, who don't hold a passionate viewpoint on End Times Theology, it was helpful to be reminded of the various theological positions. It's been a long time since my Bible School Days. My personal opinion on that is God's gonna do it how God's gonna do it. Obviously some folks are going to be wrong in their beliefs because they don't all agree. So I say, we need to be ready for whatever the future holds and let God play it out the way He will do it. (So my personal opinion boils down to...whatever...!)
Is it theologically and physically possible for evil to be banished for twelve thousand years? I don't really think so. But science fiction is all about taking the world as we know it and extrapolating with a specific bias. What if...there was a golden age? As anyone who has read the Bible can attest, it's not laid out in a tidy outline that connects all the dots. There's plenty of room for imagination. And while mine wouldn't have taken me where Chris Walley's took him, there's no reason not to go along for the ride.