CHILDREN OF GOD by Mary Doria Russell


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 Sequel to The Sparrow (1996), Russell's account of a 21st- century Jesuit-led expedition to planet Rakhat with its two intelligent, kangaroo-like alien races, the carnivorous Jana'ata and their prey, the enslaved Runa. Broken, beset by terrible nightmares, Emilio Sandoz--the expedition's sole survivor--has returned to Earth, where he rejects the Jesuits and the priesthood and falls in love with Gina Giuliani and her four-year-old daughter Celestina. Still, for a variety of reasons the Jesuits (as well as the Pope) pressure Sandoz toward agreeing to return to Rakhat. But even when Sandoz discovers that another expedition member, Sofia Mendes, also survived, he refuses to go. On Rakhat, meanwhile, changes continue. The merchant Supaari, who broke Sandoz and sold him, rejects the Jana'ata lifestyle and takes his supposedly deformed daughter into the forest. Jana'ata poet Hlavin Kitheri, who bought Sandoz in order to rape him, slaughters all his relatives, blames Supaari, and tries to build a society based on ability, not inherited rank. Sofia Mendes, hiding in the forest with the Runa she incited to rebel, gives birth to Isaac, an autistic child with an uncanny musical talent, and supplies the Runa with advanced technology so that they can continue the revolt against their Jana'ata overlords. On Earth, Sandoz is shanghaied aboard the Jesuits' new ship (thanks to relativistic effects, he will never see Gina again), which arrives at Rakhat just in time to prevent the extermination of the Jana'ata by the Sofia-led Runa. Finally, Sandoz will return to Earth, free at last of his nightmares, to meet the daughter he never knew he had. A brutal and deliberate tale, its characters rather too forgiving to be wholly human, that will challenge and sometimes shred the reader's preconceptions. (First printing of 50,000; Book- of-the-Month selection; author tour)

Pub Date: March 25th, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-45635-X
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1998


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