In the Shadow of Heaven

by javert

Original ONGOING Drama Psychological Sci-fi Female Lead Magic Multiple Lead Characters Ruling Class Space Opera Strategy
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Profanity
  • Traumatising content

“The past is not a home you can go back to...”

Yan BarCarran is lost in the world. Her time as a student at the top theological school in the galaxy is quickly coming to an end, and she’s apprehensive about getting the research job she’s always wanted. But on the cusp of her graduation, her plans change. Instead of a quiet scientific position, Yan is offered an apprenticeship with the most powerful man in the Empire. She can’t say no to the chance to secure a future for her family, even if that comes with the possibility of someday becoming the leader of the Empire herself. With that decision, Yan is thrust into the political spotlight. Danger lurks around every corner.

Can she learn enough from her powerful master to avoid making a fatal mistake? Are her fellow apprentices friends, or are they political rivals ready to stab her in the back? And can she really trust the reformed criminal who teaches her how to fight? 

Sometimes, the right choice is the hardest thing to see.

Updates every Monday and Friday!

Additional Information

In the Shadow of Heaven is partially about the banality of evil, partially about broken people finding each other (for better or for worse), and partially about the nature of belief. It's science fiction with mild fantasy elements. Best described as a character focused drama, ItSoH is fairly slow in the beginning, but it picks up speed as it goes. It's an ensemble style story, and though Yan is the main character, there are many chapters that follow other characters and story arcs (specifically in the second act).

Religion is a central element to the story, but this story is not an endorsement of any particular religion (or religion in general) and definitely not an attempt to proselytize to the reader. It's more of an exploration of what belief makes people do, rather than being a story that presupposes a religious truth.

The primary romance is F/F, but it is not the only romance or the focus of the story.


ACT ONE: New Creatures with New Hearts

Yan starts her apprenticeship and does her best to get along with all of the personalities she has to work with. She begins to understand what might be required of her as a political figure, and learns exactly how far she's willing to go to survive.

Highlights include family drama, budding romance, a fake gunfight, a real pirate attack, and a military coup.

Complete act. Chapters 1-42, plus an interlude.

Table of Contents / Reference Sheet for part one can be found here. Contains spoilers.

ACT TWO: The Realms of the Unreal

An unexpected attack disrupts the precarious balance of the world. Sid and Sylva take center stage as they each fight to recover what has been lost. Yan has her long dark night of the soul. Aymon struggles to hold together an alliance that is on the brink of collapse.

Highlights include a murder mystery, political intrigue, betrayal, unexpected alliances, kidnapping, secret identities, dramatic escapes, and shocking revelations.

Complete act. Chapters 43-89, plus a bonus chapter.

ACT THREE: The Eyes that See the Glory

The lines are drawn in the sand, and no one can avoid making choices that will shift the nature of the universe forever.

Highlights include reunions and partings, killing and healing, laughing and weeping, keeping silence and speaking, casting away stones and gathering stones together, and a time to every purpose under heaven. The end of ItSoH.

Act currently in progress. Chapters 90-current.

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter One - Midnight's Shining Stars ago
Chapter Two ago
Chapter Three ago
Chapter Four ago
Chapter Five ago
Chapter Six ago
Chapter Seven ago
Chapter Eight ago
Chapter Nine ago
Chapter Ten ago
Chapter Eleven ago
Chapter Twelve ago
Chapter Thirteen ago
Chapter Fourteen ago
Chapter Fifteen ago
Chapter Sixteen - All Of Us Pirates Would Have Been Martyrs, Part I ago
Chapter Seventeen ago
Chapter Eighteen ago
Interlude: The Book of Secrets ago
Chapter Nineteen ago
Chapter Twenty ago
Chapter Twenty-One ago
Chapter Twenty-Two ago
Chapter Twenty-Three ago
Chapter Twenty-Four ago
Chapter Twenty-Five ago
Chapter Twenty-Six ago
Chapter Twenty-Seven ago
Chapter Twenty-Eight ago
Chapter Twenty-Nine - The Dead on Culloden's Field ago
Chapter Thirty ago
Chapter Thirty-One ago
Chapter Thirty-Two ago
Chapter Thirty-Three ago
Chapter Thirty-Four ago
Chapter Thirty-Five ago
Chapter Thirty-Six ago
Chapter Thirty-Seven - All Of Us Pirates Would Have Been Martyrs, Part II ago
Chapter Thirty-Eight ago
Chapter Thirty-Nine ago
Chapter Forty ago
Chapter Forty-One ago
Chapter Forty-Two ago
(Reference Chart / Table of Contents) Part One: New Creatures With New Hearts ago
Chapter Forty-Three ago
Chapter Forty-Four ago
Chapter Forty-Five ago
Chapter Forty-Six ago
Chapter Forty-Seven ago
Chapter Forty-Eight ago
Chapter Forty-Nine ago
Chapter Fifty ago
Bonus Chapter: Kino, Part One - Falmar ago
Bonus chapter: Kino, Part Two - Hanathue ago
Bonus chapter: Kino, Part Three - Emerri ago
Chapter Fifty-One ago
Chapter Fifty-Two ago
Chapter Fifty-Three ago
Chapter Fifty-Four ago
Chapter Fifty-Five ago
Chapter Fifty-Six ago
Chapter Fifty-Seven ago
Chapter Fifty-Eight ago
Chapter Fifty-Nine ago
Chapter Sixty ago
Chapter Sixty-One ago
Chapter Sixty-Two ago
Chapter Sixty-Three ago
Chapter Sixty-Four ago
Chapter Sixty-Five ago
Chapter Sixty-Six ago
Chapter Sixty-Seven ago
Chapter Sixty-Eight ago
Chapter Sixty-Nine ago
Chapter Seventy ago
Chapter Seventy-One ago
Chapter Seventy-Two ago
Chapter Seventy-Three ago
Chapter Seventy-Four ago
Chapter Seventy-Five ago
Chapter Seventy-Six ago
Chapter Seventy-Seven ago
Chapter Seventy-Eight ago
Chapter Seventy-Nine ago
Chapter Eighty ago
Chapter Eighty-One ago
Chapter Eighty-Two ago
Chapter Eighty-Three - The Distance Between the Real and the Ideal ago
Chapter Eighty-Four - The Cliff of the Future, the Darkness of the Past ago
Chapter Eighty-Five - The God of the Gaps ago
Chapter Eighty-Six - All Of Us Pirates Would Have Been Martyrs, Part III ago
Chapter Eighty-Seven - Zesa ago
Chapter Eighty-Eight - If I Forget You, Israel, Let Me Forget My Left Hand ago
Chapter Eighty-Nine - Clemency for the Wizard Kino ago
Chapter Ninety - The Choices We Must Live With ago
Chapter Ninety-One - The Interior of Aymon's Heart ago
Chapter Ninety-Two - A Negative Peace ago
Chapter Ninety-Three - O Captain My Captain ago

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Engaging character/story-Great mix of magic & tech

One of the best-written pieces that I have read in the past year, not just here on RR, but in all fiction by traditionally published and self-published writers. The voice is solid, consistent, and interesting. The world-building feels deep and complex, but so far no info-dumps, just well-laid bits of description and trivia and song lyrics at the start of each chapter. This is a world where religion matters, but one that is built on science and engineering and "magic" - not sure if it is only telekinesis and telepathy, or if it is "Force"-like in the manner of Star Wars, but so far it is a great mix of technology, magic, religion, politics, spacer vs. grounder culture, Imperial-capital planet vs. Rimworld-planet culture, and the switch from being a student at the end of college to entering the working world - not a coming-of-age as such, but more of a story about going from theory to practice. Also, a nice change of pace from the evil/amoral cultivation societies or apocalypse stories that I see much more frequently. A great read that I highly recommend as of Chapter 10.

  • Overall Score

Despite generally not liking religion or most religious themes, and the annoying fact that every character so far is either gay or disabled for whatever reason, this story and characters are well written and enjoyable. Even if you're a bit leery, I recommend giving it a try because it draws you into the story and makes the characters come to life.

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A facinating sci-fi setting, which RR has a large lack of, with a small dash of 'magic'. The theological thread doesn't come off as overbearing, but mearly an element of the setting/character(s) and I thought well used (personally, my philosophy would probably most accuratly fall under 'agnostic theism' for however that tempers your reading of my words.)

I have a small ding due to character(s) who are/become important, but have only learned superficial information/growth. This is exacerbated due to other important characters having direct PoV chapters so we have a lot of information on them directly, which skews the growth/information as far as Main Characters to be lopsided; atleast, as of the writing of this review. Caveat, there is a bit of illusion as this is a web serial rather than a book, so the separation between distinct 'books' is heavily blurred and techniques that work between books aren't as easily effective/influencing on a regularly-expanding story which the serial-posting brings.

Still, I await each chapter with bated breath- like a flower slowly blooming, each petal unfurling is more facinating than the last.

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The story is nice but, the plot progresses so slow at times. The main reason is because there is a lot of different pov's which do start to get annoying in my opinion. 

Spoiler: Spoiler

 I like most characters. Grammar is great.World building is also done pretty good. Just that the pace is too slow.

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Amazing character growth

This story features some of the best character character growth I have seen in a story. Characters actually react to situations and change because of them, add this to engaging world-building, interesting polotics and an awesome mix of magic and sci-fi and you have one of my favorite story's. :)

  • Overall Score

Overly vague and plodding at the start

This fiction suffers from some glaring issues despite the general competence of the author.  First is the absence of a prologue; there is no hook presented to entice further reading and instead we are immediately dumped into the life of lesbian spacer girl, which was frankly quite dull.  Second is the overabundance of inane detail; we learn much about how to get from A to B, what is eaten and where, how rooms are arranged, etcetera. But when it comes to important world building information we are left in the dark.

Everyone we encounter in the first 10 chapters seems quite impressed with Yan’s mentor but we never learn anything about what they know that makes him so renowned.  Likewise we are told that she lives in a galactic empire of sorts where a standardized religion seems to play a large role but again no details.  Also Yan’s motivations for accepting her mentor and thereby placing her life and happiness in jeopardy are quite vague.  This isn’t a good start to entice continued reading if you cannot tell.

As such I’ve found it difficult to motivate myself to read past the first, quite long, 10 chapters as the details and impressions of an interesting future story are sadly absent.  Apart from a general lack of detail of the wider universe even the powers of the protagonist are only vaguely alluded to.  Instead we are treated to a litany of lengthy description and dialogue which I can only call inane as they have little to do with an actual plot.

I’m sure that the story does eventually progress and those details are given but know that you have a bit of a slog to reach them prospective readers.

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Soundly Constructed Characters, wonderful Sci-Fi

A great example of well written, character driven, science fiction. The story is told from multiple perspectives, usually one per chapter, all of which prove interesting. The story is fairly slow paced, driven by the characters and their decision making process.

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This is a review as of Chapter 17

I have mixed feelings about this fiction. 

On one hand, it is well written, the characters are likable and unique, the story is compelling and the plot and world building is fascinating. 

On the other hand... nobody seems to care or mind that they are living in a totalitarian theocracy where all the important positions are held by an elite group of "sensitives" rather than a meritocracy, and where policy is dictated because "God told me so."

I will revise my review the further I read and if the narrator (or author) ever gets over her naivete and realizes just how poisonous this system is.

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This was the first work which really got my attention on RoyalRoad. And software at it managed to keep me reading till chapter nine. The plot is well established well in the early chapters, and Yan has her own doubts and motivations. 

As much as she is still someone with agency. Her back story was well woven into the main plot. And give a good clue as to what drives her. The world manages to expand and continue to be fascinating, while revealing the more intricate layers behind. 

It wasn't entirely to my taste, but it has managed to surprise and retain my attention. Will recommend to someone who likes science.fiction fantasy, with an eye for well thought out world building and good explanations. 

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Thanks for the blurb describing the type of book it is. I wish more authors added that information.