Look at modern society through a possible apocalyptic tale.
In a Nutshell: In Eclipse of the Sun, Michael O'Brien raises vital questions concerning the state of modern society by drawing out its principles in a very possible apocalyptic tale. In the final year of the twentieth century, the citizens of the West have completely handed personal freedom over to government controls without even noticing it. Global powers maintain the illusion of democracy, while crushing those elements of society that would resist the strangely religious new world order they plan to unveil. Nuns are slaughtered, journalists are silenced, citizens are abducted, and the media manipulates it all to further the seemingly philanthropic ends of mysterious dark powers. Eclipse of the Sun is not always as gripping as the apocalyptic plot suggests, and the reader should expect to encounter drier as well as more suspenseful reading.
Eclipse of the Sun is a part of the Children Of The Last Days series and is best read after Strangers And Sojourners and Plague Journal.
Content: Eclipse of the Sun takes the story of Father Elijah into the foothills of British Columbia. The conflict is the same battle between Christ and Antichrist, the true Church and the Antichurch. Only this time, the story does not take place on the front lines, but in the lives of ordinary members in society.
Having witnessed government officials murder Catholic nuns, the nun's chaplain, Father Andrei, is taken into federal custody. He is held in a polite, antiseptic prison environment where the instruments of torture and interrogation are of a spiritual and psychological nature. Fr. Andrei is refused his breviary and forbidden to celebrate mass. He is taken on daily excursions, by an ex-Catholic named Maurice L'Oraison, into a morally corrupt world where he is scandalized by blasphemous and unnatural artwork, a vicious and hollow citizenry, and worst of all blind, disobedient shepherds within the Church herself. All the while, Maurice provokes Fr. Andrei by asking him to defend his antiquated theology in the face of such things. Maurice hopes to convince Fr. Andrei, as he has been convinced, that Catholicism is merely a prefigurement of a new religion and a new christ.
Meanwhile, a parish priest and his archbishop fight against corruption within the Church and initiate a spiritual renewal. A Protestant housewife struggles with government intrusion into her home. An honest politician discovers the high price of honesty in politics, and other stories. Eclipse of the Sun contains many subplots with conflicts and characters that are all interwoven, sometimes accidentally. While the conflicts are all too believable, many of the characters are not. O'Brien often tells the reader about a character rather than developing that character through the story. As a result, many characters seem artificial.
Form: In Eclipse of the Sun, O'Brien masterfully counterpoises apocalyptic terror with Christian hope. Overall, the book conveys a profound serenity, and even joy. O'Brien moves in and out of poetic prose throughout the book. His style has a sweet and lyrical quality that contributes to the serenity of the novel. However, his poetic prose detracts from clarity in places and it makes for vague and confused dialogue.
Evaluator's Comments: Eclipse of the Sun is a quickly read novel that is simultaneously terrifying and exciting, horrific and humorous, incredible yet possible and may even prove prophetic.
I recommend this book because it is balanced and entertaining, and because it addresses many of the concerns Christians face every day. However, Eclipse of the Sun is unjustifiably long, and leaves the reader with an impression, rather than the substance of profundity. For those who have read and enjoyed Strangers and Sojourners and Plague Journal, Eclipse of the Sun will prove equally enjoyable. --Suzanne Temple