- Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Baen; First Edition edition (July 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0671877364
- ISBN-13: 978-0671877361
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,789,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lest Darkness Fall & To Bring the Light Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1996
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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".
It is a short read, but very well written. Le Camp builds us a time travel theory and a whole world in the past without needing to engage in in-depth world building. And for students of Byzantine history, it covers an interesting era when Justinian tried to reel the Ostrogothic run Italy back into the Eastern Roman Empire. Apart from the alternative elements the book is very historically correct.
As a bonus you get the David Drake novella "To bring the light" another alternative history about the founding of Rome.
I own this edition, but I doubt I've read the Drake story more than once. The de Camp story, however, is one that I come back to and re-read again and again.
The story is told with wit, humor, and verve. It is probably the best depiction of what a 20th century man could do with the contents of his pockets and his knowledge of history and machinery. He's not given too much knowledge - as a classics professor, he knows the language and a plausible amount about well-documented historical personalities, but it's all entirely plausible to the reader. He actually has difficulty devising machines based on his layman's knowledge of them, which is a reality that a lot of time travel stories avoid.
If Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" hadn't come first, I'd call this the all-time classic of the genre. This is more entertaining, because it's both more accessible and more historically realistic at the same time.
The characters are all strikingly well-drawn, even the minor characters. They aren't Faulkner characters or anything, but as stock types they are all memorable and fun.
Five stars. I'd give six stars if that was possible. Highly recommended.