Quantum Shadows: Unpleasant

Quantum Shadows by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.Quantum Shadows by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.Quantum Shadows by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

What would life be like if you were living through a seemingly never-ending series of holocaust-style planetary collapses? Corvyn is a cynic. He questions everything and tries to hold himself above the mundane ideals that normal people struggle with. He’s been there, done that, is powerful enough in the world order that exists to resist almost anyone, but he refuses to take a leadership role himself.

In Quantum Shadows (2020) we follow Corvyn as he attempts to track down an apparent attempt to seize power by entities unknown. Over the next several hundred pages, L.E. Modesitt, Jr. drags us through a broad-ranging review of various religious/moral viewpoints that populate Heaven, the planet Corvyn lives on. As with almost all Modesitt books, there are plenty of semi-tongue in cheek insults to the religious groups that he apparently finds particularly narrow-minded. Nothing new here and it’s just as offensive as ever if you share those beliefs.

Each religious group seems to feed power to the leaders, avatars, Gods of the faith that they support. As is often the case, these empowered leaders react in a variety of ways to Corvyn, who many consider a threat to themselves. Corvyn ends up doing some fast thinking and exercising his almost unassailable powers to avoid getting hurt. The contradiction that presents where he claims to be worried about the fight, but never loses a fight if he gets in one, seems pretty lame.

Eventually, there is a final conflict where the guilty parties are dispatched and Corvyn prevents another “Fall” of mankind. The conspirators seem pretty predictable once a mostly complete view of each faith/culture has been presented. If you are a long-time Modesitt reader it won’t really surprise you.

The best part of the book are flashbacks that Corvyn has of previous experiences in a long cascade of mankind’s continual failure to check the hunger for power and control leading to eventual disaster. Corvyn’s experiences help to make his outlook make sense even if I never really understood why he had become this supremely powerful check on the power of others.

This was one of my least favorite Modesitt books and I’ve read a lot of them. To be honest, I was so bored with the constant search for a nice place to stay and a decent meal to eat that I wanted to just skim pages to get past all of that. Compared to Adiamante, Gravity Dreams and The Parafaith War, this was really unpleasant.

Published in July 2020. Bestselling author of The Mongrel Mage, L. E. Modesitt, Jr’s Quantum Shadows blends science fiction, myth, and legend in an adventure that pits old gods and new against one another in a far future world. On a world called Heaven, the ten major religions of mankind each have its own land governed by a capital city and ruled by a Hegemon. That Hegemon may be a god, or a prophet of a god. Smaller religions have their own towns or villages of belief. Corvyn, known as the Shadow of the Raven, contains the collective memory of humanity’s Falls from Grace. With this knowledge comes enormous power. When unknown power burns a mysterious black image into the holy place of each House of the Decalivre, Corvyn must discover what entity could possibly have that much power. The stakes are nothing less than another Fall, and if he doesn’t stop it, mankind will not rise from the ashes.

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years.

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