Fallen Host by Lyda Morehouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars (9/10)
Before I even started reading this book I knew I was going to have trouble reviewing it. Not because there is anything wrong with it - in fact, it is a great book - but because it is so different from anything I've read before. (Well, except for Archangel Protocol which is the book before it in the series and that I read before I started doing these reviews.)
It is the latter half of the twenty-first century; after a catastrophic war in which a terror device called Medusa was unleashed, humanity has turned away from the sciences and virtually all governments are now theocracies. What we know as the Internet has become the LINK, an all invasive network that individuals can access through implanted hardware. Two fully sentient artificial intelligences traverse the LINK, as do angels. In Archangel Protocol, Deirdre McMannus exposed the LINK-angels as a high-tech fraud and met a real angel - the Archangel Michael, no less.
Fallen Host is told through the first person point of view of three main characters. Page is an AI created by the same computer genius who programmed the LINK-angels. After helping expose his "father" in the previous book, he is trying to make his own way on the LINK. A Muslim, he also dreams of visiting Mecca. Emmaline McNaughten is a Papal Inquisitor, a maverick who has been sent to discover if Page and the world's second AI, the Dragon of the East, have souls. The third main character has chosen to call himself Morningstar. He has been known through history by many names; the Fallen One, the Adversary, Iblis, Lucifer, Satan.
In the first chapter, Morningstar meets with Jibril, the Archangel Gabriel, who obliquely reveals that the End of Days are upon the world. That leaves Morningstar with a quest - to find the Antichrist. He believes this to be Page and attempts to contact and recruit the AI. Emmaline is also looking for Page and the three protaganist's stories soon become inextricably entwined. This book ends with this section of the story complete the scene set for the third book, Messiah Node.
I was a little dubious about this series. As a Christian, a Catholic in fact, I want my beliefs to be treated with respect in the books I choose to read. So long as that is the case, I am perfectly happy to explore an author's 'what ifs'. This is exactly what Lyda Morehouse has done. She has begun with the premise that the God of Judaism, Islam and Christianity does indeed exist as in the One True God. From there, she has explored how the Second Coming might happen in our own near future.
This is a work of fiction, sprung from a lot of research (she discusses her research in the FAQ on her website), scientific extrapolation and a great imagination. It is a science fiction story about religion, not a religious science fiction story. I enjoyed it immensely and I'm looking forward to fitting the next one into my packed reading schedule. However, the bad news is that Fallen Host is currently out of print, although the other three books in the series are readily available. I recommend starting the series with Archangel Protocol, although this isn't necessary to follow the story. And if you think you might like these books, go and find a copy of Fallen Host now, while there are still some around.
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