In the Shadow of Heaven

by javert

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

 

Yan BarCarran has never felt at home. She’s an orphan among her extended family, a spacer among the ground dwellers while at school, and a one-in-a-million oddity born with the ability to use the God-given power. Still, at least at the Academy, an elite theological school where those with the power are sent to train, she knows where she stands. Her peaceful life falls apart when she receives her apprenticeship invitation at graduation.

Aymon Sandreas is the de facto leader of the Empire. He commands hundreds of powerful starships and keeps order among the planets under his rule. He’s also getting older, and the time has come for him to choose apprentices, one of whom will eventually become his chosen successor. He picks three students: the spiritual and talented Yan, the mysterious and troubled Kino, and the impulsive and striving Sid.

Now in the dead center of politics, Yan faces danger from would-be assassins and political rivals. If she doesn’t learn well enough and fast enough, she’ll die before she ever has a chance to make a difference. Between her fellow apprentices, the reformed criminal tasked with teaching her survival, and even her powerful master, Yan isn’t sure who to trust in this dangerous new world.

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

Usually updates twice a week.

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.

 
ACTS

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.

To catch up on the story faster, you may consider reading the abridged act one.

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.

To catch up on the story faster, you may consider reading the abridged act 2.

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.

  • Overall Score
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javert

javert

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter One - Midnight's Shining Stars ago
Chapter Two - Images and their Meanings ago
Chapter Three - The Interview ago
Chapter Four - Summer Plans ago
Chapter Five - A Home Among the Stars ago
Chapter Six - Our Father, Who Art Thou? ago
Chapter Seven - Breakfast of Champions ago
Chapter Eight - Claddagh ago
Chapter Nine - Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow ago
Chapter Ten - Deafman Glance ago
Chapter Eleven - Meeting the Tamed Bear ago
Chapter Twelve - The Refugee ago
Chapter Thirteen - Dinner Date ago
Chapter Fourteen - Far Away Secrets Are Easy to Keep ago
Chapter Fifteen - A Simple Prayer of Delicate Design ago
Chapter Sixteen - All Of Us Pirates Would Have Been Martyrs, Part I ago
Chapter Seventeen - A Tamed Bear Still Has Claws ago
Chapter Eighteen - Debrief and Disrobe ago
Interlude: The Book of Secrets ago
Chapter Nineteen - A Return to the City ago
Chapter Twenty - The Weapon Concealed in Silk ago
Chapter Twenty-One - Just Two Slow Dancers ago
Chapter Twenty-Two - An Assignment and a Social Visit ago
Chapter Twenty-Three - A Song in the Dark ago
Chapter Twenty-Four - The Flame Which Casts a Long Shadow ago
Chapter Twenty-Five - Abandon Ship / Abandon Hope ago
Chapter Twenty-Six - That Which Will Never Be Forgiven ago
Chapter Twenty-Seven - Scrubbing the Walls of Chauvet Cave ago
Chapter Twenty-Eight - The Cool Darkness Underground ago
Chapter Twenty-Nine - The Dead on Culloden's Field ago
Chapter Thirty - Shock and Awe ago
Chapter Thirty-One - The Eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg ago
Chapter Thirty-Two - The Marquis ago
Chapter Thirty-Three - The Good Captain ago
Chapter Thirty-Four - Trial by Comparison ago
Chapter Thirty-Five - An Appearance Meant Not to Deceive but to Inform ago
Chapter Thirty-Six - The Past Is Not a Home You Can Go Back To ago
Chapter Thirty-Seven - All Of Us Pirates Would Have Been Martyrs, Part II ago
Chapter Thirty-Eight - Fighting Fire With Fire ago
Chapter Thirty-Nine - Holy Sick Divine Nights ago
Chapter Forty - The Emperor's Punishment ago
Chapter Forty-One - A Death in the Family ago
Chapter Forty-Two - What Shall We Do with a Drunken Spacer? ago
(Reference Chart / Table of Contents) Part One: New Creatures With New Hearts ago
(Abridgment Guide) Act One: New Creatures with New Hearts ago
Chapter Forty-Three - Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain ago
Chapter Forty-Four - Don't Quit Your Day Job ago
Chapter Forty-Five - Murder on the Oathkeeper Express ago
Chapter Forty-Six - No Such Thing as Good News ago
Chapter Forty-Seven - Elections ago
Chapter Forty-Eight - Puppets and their Masters ago
Chapter Forty-Nine - Hurry Up and Wait ago
Chapter Fifty - Crewman 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 - Yan. ago
Chapter Fifty-Two - No-Evil ago
Chapter Fifty-Three - I Don't Want to Die in Here ago
Chapter Fifty-Four - The Good Doctor ago
Chapter Fifty-Five - Schemes in a Guilded Age ago
Chapter Fifty-Six - Meet-Cute ago
Chapter Fifty-Seven - The Green King and the Silver Flame Attunement ago
Chapter Fifty-Eight - The Keeper Did a'Hunting Go ago
Chapter Fifty-Nine - The Road Less-Traveled ago
Chapter Sixty - The Walls Come Tumblin' Down ago
Chapter Sixty-One - The Bait in its Trap ago
Chapter Sixty-Two - San Bernadino Welcomes You ago
Chapter Sixty-Three - Etta's House ago
Chapter Sixty-Four - Sid, Master of Understanding ago
Chapter Sixty-Five - The Loneliest People in the Whole Wide World 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
(Reading/Abridgement Guide) Act Two: The Realms of the Unreal 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
Chapter Ninety-Four - Can't Trust A Spy, or a Friend ago
Chapter Ninety-Five - Funeral Codes / Funeral Rites ago
Chapter Ninety-Six - The Left Hand of Darkness ago
Chapter Ninety-Seven - The Friend of My Enemy ago
Chapter Ninety-Eight - The Cracks Too Small to Slip Through ago
Chapter Ninety-Nine - In Which Our Heroes Discuss the Plan ago
Bonus Chapter - What Yan Wrote ago
Chapter One Hundred - Fire to the Sun ago
Chapter One Hundred One - Confess the Murder ago
Chapter One Hundred Two - Quid Pro Quo ago
Chapter One Hundred Three - In My Thoughts and in My Words ago
Chapter One Hundred Four - All the Lonely People ago
Chapter One Hundred Five - A Tiny Moment of Respite ago
Chapter One Hundred Six - Eleventh Song: Song of the Stranger ago
The Home of the Past - Part One ago
Chapter One Hundred Seven - The Gom Jabbar ago
The Home of the Past - Part Two ago
The Home of the Past - Part Three ago
Chapter One Hundred Eight - "It's like we're in the beginning of a buddy cop movie." ago
Chapter One Hundred Nine - Daughters of Hungry Ghosts ago
Chapter One Hundred Ten - Bless the Arrows that Strike Us Where We Stand ago
Chapter One Hundred Eleven - The Tragic Accident ago
Chapter One Hundred Twelve - Phone Tag ago
Reviews

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Gask
  • 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.

alexanderyou
  • 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.

SanchoMontoya
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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.

Keifru
  • Overall Score

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.

tornadoskull
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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.

Munchodo
  • Overall Score

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. :)

Cloudmire
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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.

Yakosh
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Excellent, captivating story

I'm not very good at reviews, and moreover, I'm not very good at saying good things about what I review (I'm more inclined to point out the negatives), so this won't be too long. I'll preface it by saying this currently one of my favorite stories on this site and I also believe it's one of the better-written ones.

I guess I'll go over the scoring categories.

Style: TBH, not entirely sure what this category is for. The writing style doesn't have anything wrong that I've noticed.

Grammar: I can't remember noticing a single issue with the grammar reading this. I'm sure some exists, but it's minor at most.

Story: The story seems to be well thought out, there's actual progression, direction, etc, which immediately puts it leagues ahead of the vast majority of content on this site. The main issue for me with this story is that it's slow. There were many times when I just wanted things to happen already. This is the only thing keeping me from giving this story 5 stars overall. I think the main reason for it feeling so slow is because there are many parallel threads, especially in Act 2.

Characters: The characters are consistent and individual. They have progression. They behave realistically, or at least believably. No Mary Sue, characters other than the MC are actually characters as well, etc. 

The setting is interesting and, as far as SciFi goes, highly consistent. I also enjoy the fact that rather than blatantly violating the laws of physics at random points and then following them at others, the story breaks the laws of physics in specific, consistent ways and generally follows them outside that.  There are some things about the setting that are a bit confusing and left unexplained (as of chapter 94 anyway), but it's generally good.

Overall, I'd give it 5 stars if not for the pacing.

I'll leave off with praise for the author for their consistent bi-weekly updates.

obran
  • Overall Score

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.

InTheEndlessMidnight
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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.