Book two of Chris Walley's dynamic Stars Wars action-drama It is the year 13851, in a "made world" on the edge of the Assembly, Farholme, where forester Merral Stefan D'Avanos first recognizes that something is amiss in his idyllic homeland. As a frequenter of the wilds, Merral does a fair bit of traveling in and around the country, so he's familiar with nature and its inhabitants.
While visiting relatives, he and his uncle dream unsettling thoughts, his cousin then sees a cockroach-type creature behind their home, and other undercurrents of unrest subtly reveal themselves. A slight attitude shift here, an angry response there, a measure of truth bending --- this is all unheard of in this new world where good and evil never co-exist.
Merral is called upon to investigate his cousin's strange sighting along with a sentinel from Ancient Earth, Vero, who has been summoned by Farholme's resident guardian sentinel. Not used to any type of inner struggle between good and evil, Merral soon finds himself experiencing unfamiliar thoughts and emotions, and is more troubled by these internal debates than any outward foe.
After a brief excursion to investigate the surrounding areas, Merral and Vero discover to their great dismay an infestation of apelike creatures as well as the cockroach type --- each one is aggressively out to kill them. The two are rescued after a battle-weary night, and Farholme, along with the Assembly, must ready themselves for further attacks.
Meetings are called, decisions are made and teams are formed, placing Merral and Vero front and center of the onslaught. Together, they join with two sisters --- one a biologist, the other a pilot --- to develop strategies to preserve their planet. Space travel, a sabotaged gate entry and information leakage all serve to threaten the team's proposed plans of defense. Soon, it becomes clear through spiritual revelation and ever-escalating circumstances that Merral and company are faced with a fight for their lives.
After much deliberation, Merral leads a crew to the enemy's space vessel hoping to offer peace. Merral watches as these slim hopes are destroyed and then forges ahead in attack. What he finds inside the ship is devastating to him, though he is helped by an angelic guide. Merral soon realizes that his most formidable enemies are not those with whom he engages in hand-to-hand combat. Rather, this enemy is seeking to destroy him and his fellow Farholme inhabitants from the inside out --- making each man or woman their own worst enemy.
At the close of THE SHADOW AND NIGHT, Merral now understands that everything he's known and lived for, everything his race has stood for, may now hang in the balance as they individually determine right from wrong, and choose good or evil.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on October 1, 2006