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Lest Darkness Fall & To Bring the Light Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Baen (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671877364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671877361
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,194,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is more entertaining, because it's both more accessible and more historically realistic at the same time.
Blue Cat Books
"Lest Darkness Fall" is one of the earliest examples of Alternate History, and is by far the best of the two stories in this book.
Dave_42
Frankly his story of one man being sent back in time to put off the Dark Ages of Western Europe is well worth the time & coin.
David D. Lawson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Carl Malmstrom on January 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Lest Darkness Fall..." is arguably the novel that began the entire science fiction sub-genre of alternate history. Centering around a Ph.D. candidate studying in Rome in the late 1930s, early 1940s, it tackles the idea question of "What would you do if you had the chance to save the Roman Empire?"
Perched at the very edge of the twilight of the (Western) Roman civilization, it realistically tackles the political, scientific and cultural problems of the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. in southern Europe. De Camp was not only a famous science fiction author (a lesser-known contemporary of Isaac Asimov), but he was a published historian and classicist in his own right. This book showcases all three of those fields in one go - at the height of his writing talent.
The short story paired with this, "To Bring The Light" by David Drake, is less meant as a serious contender in terms of literary quality than an homage to de Camp's work. Dealing with the founding of the Roman civilization in much the way that "Lest Darkness Fall..." deals with it's death throes, it succeeds in showing the David Drake's admiration for de Camp's work.
Ultimately, though, I'd buy the book for "Lest Darkness Fall...": it's a surprisingly ignored but wonderful novel that paved the way for what has become an entire sub-field of science fiction. Whether you like alternate history or not, though, this book should not be missed.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By D. Ross on February 29, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Martin Padway, mild-mannered archaeologist, is visiting Rome when he is thrust backwards in time... all the way back to the sixth century A.D. The Roman Empire is fading fast... facing foes on all sides... with the thousand-year blight we now know as the Dark Ages fast approaching. Can a single man -- Padway --change history and prevent the fall of Rome? Nothing less than the 'Age of Enlightenment' hangs in the balance.
The literary descendent of 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court', de Camp lets Padway grapple with raw issues. I found these areas the story's most interesting sections: how to make a living, having arrived with only modern currency in hand... how to avoid the authorities, given their proclivity to brand any new technology 'witchcraft'... how to assemble allies, fend off enemies and stay healthy in an environment not conducive to outsiders.
Because it was written in 1939, there is a level of 'political incorrectness' that is entertainingly fresh. Italian women, Muslims, the French and others are insulted with broad brush-strokes. Nonetheless, it is historically informative, important from a literary standpoint and makes for interesting reading. Despite its age, it is a fluid, fast read. de Camp had a lot of interesting things to say... and said them well.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Broderick VINE VOICE on March 14, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Lest Darkness Fall" is considered a classic of science fiction, and justifiably so. If you enjoy "displaced in time" stories, or if the idea interests you, you can expect to like the book. The hero is a PhD-to-be who gets mysteriously plunged back to Rome in its declining years, and takes it on himself to use what he knows and avert the coming dark ages. It is funny in places, sad in a couple of places, and exciting all through. The other part of this book is a rather forgettable story by an excellent writer, David Drake. If you enjoy this book, look up "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen" by Piper, or "Island in the Sea of Time" by S.M. Stirling
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dave_42 on April 28, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book pairs L. Sprague de Camp's "Lest Darkness Fall" with David Drake's "To Bring The Light". Also included is an introduction by Harry Turtledove. "Lest Darkness Fall" is one of the earliest examples of Alternate History, and is by far the best of the two stories in this book. In 1952 it was ranked 11th on the Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll, and in 1956 it was ranked 20th on the same poll. It is a shame that this story has been largely been forgotten since then, since it is clearly well researched and a real pleasure to read.

It is the story of Martin Padway, a student of history who is in Rome working on his thesis. He is sent back in time, to the year 535 A.D., when a lightning bolt strikes him. After realizing his position, he decides to try to prevent the Dark Ages, and finds himself increasingly pulled into the politics of the time. It is a fairly short novel, and well worth reading.

"To Bring The Light" is clearly based on "Lest Darkness Fall". In this story the main character is Flavia Herosilla, a well educated woman living in Rome in the year 751 A.D., during the celebration of the city's 1,000th birthday. As with Martin Padway, she is sent back in time by a lightning strike. She is sent to the time of the founding of Rome. Unlike the first story, where Martin Padway tries to change history, Flavia tries to recreate the founding of Rome based on the legends that she knows.

"Lest Darkness Fall" is a classic that should be read by anyone interested in Alternate Histories. "To Bring The Light", though not as good, is still an interesting story, and makes a good companion to "Lest Darkness Fall".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lest Darkness Fall is an engaging story that takes place in a period and location not usually the focus of alternate history: 6th century Italy. Knowing little about the real history of Italy during this period, I realize I missed some of de Camp's more nuanced references. And I am not a big fan of military history, which works its way into the last chapters of the book. But it was all great fun--and highly recommended.
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