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Children of God (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – Print, February 2, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
While perhaps Children of God is not as original as The Sparrow, it is not (I am relieved to say) a disappointment. It picks up the themes that were explored so well in the first book and develops them in a number of new and satisfying ways. Rakhat is considerably more developed, as is the interspecies conflict between the Runa and the Jana'ata. As in the first book, Russell uses a sure and blessedly light hand to link the events on the two planets to the long-standing moral issues that have concerned humanity.
There are weaknesses in the Children of God that are largely tied to the Earth side of the story. A few of the less necessary characters have the unfortunate feel that they exist simply to move the plot along. Since Russell uses so few cliches in her writing, it unfortunately hits a very sour note on the few occasions where her talent for writing character fails. It did not need stock bad guys or good guys to make it a success. The book also did not need the dramatic 'reward' offered at the end by Isaac and his discovery. The hand of God would have been clear enough in the unfolding events on Rakhat, and additional proof felt unnecessary. Not bad, but unnecessary.
Properly speaking, this book would probably be rated four stars rather than five. However, there are so few writers working with this level of inventiveness. For that reason, and for the strength of the two books taken together, I am rating it as five stars.
Children of God isn't quite as good as The Sparrow. However, although it doesn't have quite the impact of the original, it is still a fine novel in its own right. The book interweaves two stories: the story of Emilio Sandoz and his return to Rakhat and the story of what happened on Rakhat after the original Jesuit mission failed and Sandoz was sent back to earth. The two stories together continue and in many ways complete much of the story of The Sparrow, in a way that makes the book feel like a natural, almost essential sequel.
On Rakhat, war has broken out. The Runa, the herbivore species that were both the servants and the food of the planet's other intelligent species, the Jana'ata, have risen up against their former masters. At the same time, Jana'ata society itself is undergoing great changes, in fact is undergoing a mostly progressive social revolution, lead by the same Jana'ata who was the source of Emilio's brutalization in The Sparrow. Russell does a very good job here of not giving us good guys and bad guys in this struggle.Read more ›
There is much more background on Rakhati history and culture given here, which certainly helped me make sense of a few lingering questions I had from The Sparrow(which I'll be reading again in a month or two, of course!) Many questions left open about the characters of The Sparrow(particularly Emilio Sandoz) are also answered, which leads to a better understanding of the storyline of both books, although Children won't be nearly as an enjoyable or understandable to someone who hasn't read The Sparrow.
I highly recommend this novel to anyone who read The Sparrow and enjoyed it, and I recommend the Sparrow followed by Children of God to anyone looking for an engrossing novel on spirituality, religion, and what it all means.
Mary Doria Russell (a Catholic who converted to Judaism) is an excellent writer who is skilled at creating characters that seem real. Her books raise questions that open the mind and encourage conversation. They are wonderful to read alone, but would be great to read and discuss with fellow readers.
The story switches between Naples and Rakhat, and spreads between 2060 and 2096 Earth-Relative years. Three different locations are followed - Earth, Rukhat and the ship, Giardano Bruno. In addition, we follow the lives of Emilio Sandoz, Sophia Mendes (originally thought dead), and members of a Jana'Ata family, Hlavana Kiteri and his descendants. Despite the many viewpoints, and the time-changes, this is an enjoyable, thought-provoking read.
Was Jesuit priest Emilio Sandoz' original mission to Rakhat a success or a failure? Did God let him down? Is there more to be done before his work is finished? Sandoz is no longer longer judged by the Church's interrogators as a prostitute turned baby-killer. Still healing from the horrors of his experience and doubtful of his relationship with God, he is ready to move on, to make major changes in his life - including giving up his priesthood and marrying.
While Emilio is back on Earth, major changes are being made on Rukhat because of the Jesuit sponsored mission that started in the first book. The Runa have slowly begun questioning their sociological position. For centuries they were passive, accustomed to providing the Jana'Ata with everything from childcare to protein.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dreadful. Couldn't finish it. Not sure why I started reading it as the first book (The Sparrow) was also dreadful.Published 14 hours ago by Ueber Geek
Nowhere near as strong or interesting as its predecessor, The Sparrow, but it provides some closure and further context.Published 2 days ago by William Cook
Good story. Moves a little slowly and some of the transitions from one date to another are hard to follow. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
I wanted so much to like this book. But, though it is intelligently written and the themes of religion, science and sprituality are vast, the author didn't tap into the depths as... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Sue Repasky
In many ways more satisfying than the Sparrow. I love her anthro chops. Sipaj, Reader someone thinks this book is good.Published 27 days ago by Two Fly
As a sequence to The Sparrow it is an interesting follow up of the story. However I found at times it was harder to follow the storyline.Published 1 month ago by LYNN CLAIRE FEINBERG
4 1/2 stars actually! This 2 volume set is, imo, exceptionally well thought out; and, for this reader, another crack in the cosmic egg of my world. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tasawuf
The sequel focuses on the children of the characters we grew to love in the first. Less character development, and more focused on the civil war of Rakhat, the book feels rushed... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Michael Duarte
Better than most sequels.Satisfingly answers most questions posed by The Sparrow. I wish the pace was somewhat slower as there are times that the plots moves too quicklyPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer