Ben is a boy who lives on the sparsely populed “Western Isles” of the United Kingdom. It’s not long before we realise that this is not the Britain we are familiar with. Life is primitive, technological advancement forbidden, and the people are governed by a strange religion with a sinister god called “The Dark One.” Is this the long-distant past? It is pure fantasy? Could it even be the future? If so, how did the world get like this? Figuring those questions out is what makes this book interesting.
Sadly though, the book fails on the drama score. Ben is forced to move to mainland Britain, where the religion is much more intense and Demons appear to be real beings, much to Ben’s horror. The boy gets embroiled in an adventure across the country, but rarely seems to get into much danger. Not very exciting.
The final chapter of the book answers all the questions about this strange world and its religion, but it’s over and done with so quickly that you barely have time to reflect upon the implications of what Christopher is saying.
If you’ve read this author’s The Prince in Waiting and The White Mountains, you’ll find an old theme re-visited here: control of the masses. This seems to be a hobby-horse of the author, but he’s not really saying anything new this time round.