Daughter Of Eden by Chris Beckett
This is book 3 in the renowned Sci-Fi trilogy by the English author, Chris Beckett, and was first published in 2016. Rebel Voice has already reviewed the first instalment, Dark Eden, but sadly didn’t get a chance to enjoy book 2, Mother of Eden, yet. However, Daughter of Eden can be read as a stand-alone as it is set 400 years after the first and contains sufficient explained references for the reader to grasp the greater plot.
Angie Redlantern is a member of the primitive Kneefolk tribe, descendants of Jeff Redlantern, a notable historic figure on the alien world of Eden, far, far removed from Earth. The inhabitants of this strange place are all descended from just two individuals, Tommy and Gela, human astronauts stranded after a ship malfunction. As a result of initial intense inbreeding, there are many deformities among the population and Angie is one such, suffering from a Hare’s Lip which makes her one of the ‘Batfaces’. There are also ‘Clawfeet’ and those with serious learning difficulties. Others, however, are relatively unaffected and usually, therefore, gain prominence with their tribes.
Tensions are high across Eden as the Davidfolk and the Johnfolk vie for supremacy over the people. Although more closely related to the Johnfolk in both beliefs and traditions, Angie has been forced to marry into the Davidfolk. Her life is hard. Class distinctions exist, with a Surplass exercising strict control over both groups and ruling with a cold heart and heavy hand.
It all comes to a head when the more advanced Johnfolk (they have learned to work metals) arrive in enemy territory en masse and begin the bloody process of conquest. Angie, her young family, and tribe flee as refugees over the Snowy Deep, an inhospitable place of high and dark mountains, to where it all began for the people of Eden, Circle Valley.
There, the iron-age people of this alien land are faced with an astounding occurrence that shakes the very foundations of their primitive existence. A second crew of astronauts has managed to find their way to Eden, little realizing that there is a population of Homo Sapiens resident there. The terrified and excited people slowly become divided on what this all means for them. Their wild interpretations lead to conflict in the best tradition of human behaviour.
The Eden saga is a wonderful adventure. The planet itself is so extraordinary as to be beyond the experience of casual readers of this genre. The ‘trees’ are really organisms that provide both heat and light in a world with no sun. Their sap is scalding hot yet their flesh burns for those who have discovered fire. Various deer-like creatures abound. Yet they have six limbs with two being used at times as arms for feeding. Some also have lanterns and when domesticated provide much needed light for themselves and their grateful keepers. There are many other highly adapted plants and animals, strange only to we earth-bound humans. The overall effect is mesmerizing.
In Daughter of Eden, we are introduced to a society where superstition and tradition rule a backward populace. The ruling elite manipulate these beliefs to better control their subjects. It helps them to maintain the caste system from which they benefit. There is also a clever analogical play upon earthly theology in this novel, and the way in which our species has a tendency to repeat it’s many mistakes, even light years from Earth. It could be considered that such behavioral problems are inherent, and questions could be asked as to how we, as a species, might work to more effectively deal with the flaws contained within our DNA, not only in our physical make-up, but also in our emotional and psychological. In any event, Daughter of Eden provides much food for thought, but it’s presented in a highly entertaining way.
Angie Redlantern is a sympathetic character. She is also complex, as are many of the others personalities presented to us. The author beautifully crafts the dimly lit world in the reader’s mind whilst enticing us with political and religious intrigue and crisis. Eden is a murky place where survival for most is a daily struggle. The new societies tend to adequately reflect human nature be it on Earth or out in the distant cosmos. The entire trilogy resembles a cross between The Hobbit, a fictional account of the Cargo Cults of the remote Pacific, and Star Trek; The Next Generation. It’s fascinating and something that most readers should be able to readily relate to.
Sult scale rating: 8 out of 10. Very good read although not quite up to the high standards of the award-winning Dark Eden. Still worth the time though and comes recommended.
The review for Dark Eden can be found here:
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