First Light begins with an ominous coincidence the reappearance of the ancient night sky during the excavation of an astronomically aligned Neolithic grave in Dorset Add to this a group of wonderful eccentrics archaeologists, astronomers, a civil servant, a stand up comic, local rustics who converge on the site to disturb the quiet seclusion of Pilgrin ValleySomeone or something is trying to sabotage the best efforts of the excavators, headed by Mark Clare, to unearth the dormant secrets of the burial ground Meanwhile, at the nearby observatory, astronomer Damien Fall, his telescope focused on the red star Aldebaran, is unnerved by the deeper significance he imputes to the celestial sophistication of the region s ancient inhabitants And Joey Hanover, a retired music hall and TV entertainer searching for his own past, has learned secrets from Farmer Mint and his son, Boy, the weirdly cryptic guardians of their ancestral home in the valley What do all these, among others, have in common All is masterfully woven into an immensely engaging and entertaining novel a suspenseful reflection on life, nature, and the cosmos, and above all an illuminating and enchanting story


10 thoughts on “First Light

  1. mark monday mark monday says:

    Peter Ackroyd has a thing about the past coming back to haunt the present That sounds like a pretty straightforward theme, and is the basis of so many novels Ackroyd takes this idea and turns it into such a transformative and often disturbing experience that the result is very different from the one I had initially imagined.I m not sure what I expected when I first picked this up Perhaps I was thinking of the darkness of Hawksmoor, except transplanted to the English countryside But from th Peter Ackroyd has a thing about the past coming back to haunt the present That sounds like a pretty straightforward theme, and is the basis of so many novels Ackroyd takes this idea and turns it into such a transformative and often disturbing experience that the result is very different from the one I had initially imagined.I m not sure what I expected when I first picked this up Perhaps I was thinking of the darkness of Hawksmoor, except transplanted to the English countryside But from the very start of the novel, this was something different the musings of an aged astronomer form the opening, musings that extol the wonder of the bigness of the universe, the incredible largeness of it all described in such a way that make the reader and the world they live in feel very small, very minor After that strange and unsettling opening, the reader is shown the life of various amusing and quirky for lack of a better phrase English types There are bumbling archeologists Hilariously pretentious bureaucrats Dramatic theatre types A horny Scottish lad and his flirty assistant Odd, close lipped, slightly sinister farmers Farmer Boy Mint, my favorite characters And malicious country village queens who would be at home in the world of Mapp Lucia All the characters come together, in one fashion or another, around the dig of an increasingly sinister archaeological find in the countryside The story consists of many small and varied chapters pithy comedies of manners, obliquely off kilter episodes full of ambiguity, and sometimes barbed, sometimes wistful domestic vignettes.Yet underneath many of these characters and scenes, there is melancholy and fear, slowly churning away For all of the funny one liners and deadpan character bits, this is a novel with tragic death, disturbing dementia, and a longing for oblivion at its core It is both adorable and chilling, in equal parts The mysteries of life and where it all comes from, where it all is going, remain unsolved, of course The mysteries of why we do the things we do and to what end are also left for the reader to contemplate This is a novel full of much wit, but the overall feeling I was left with was one of almost transcendent yearning, as felt by the characters, and as felt a bit by me when realizing that this yearning is, as always, destined to remained unfulfilled Such is life


  2. Nikhilesh Sinha Nikhilesh Sinha says:

    Atmospheric, immersive, melancholic and ultimately anti climactic Ackroyd has ability but in this book seems to create slightly hollow characters, that are set up to be caricatures of themselves, which is amusing at first, but limiting in the end The role reversed lesbian couple, the retired stand up and his malapropistic wife, the seemingly simple but oddly disquieting farmer and son, the astronomer desperate in his mediocrity, and the tragic archeologist with his crippled wife invite curiosi Atmospheric, immersive, melancholic and ultimately anti climactic Ackroyd has ability but in this book seems to create slightly hollow characters, that are set up to be caricatures of themselves, which is amusing at first, but limiting in the end The role reversed lesbian couple, the retired stand up and his malapropistic wife, the seemingly simple but oddly disquieting farmer and son, the astronomer desperate in his mediocrity, and the tragic archeologist with his crippled wife invite curiosity but do not inspire empathy The book is clever without being satisfying, marvelling at some of the construction but oddly less moved than one would expect


  3. Sarah Sarah says:

    I like the themes of archaeology astronomy woven together This is definitely an oddball book I have never read Peter Ackroyd didn t know what to expect yet it s theme resonated with me Quote from Damian Did you hear how I was caught in the underground passage for a while It was there I first realised it That I first understood how nothing really dies Just because we are trapped in time, we assume that there is only one direction to go But when we are dead, when we are out of time, ev I like the themes of archaeology astronomy woven together This is definitely an oddball book I have never read Peter Ackroyd didn t know what to expect yet it s theme resonated with me Quote from Damian Did you hear how I was caught in the underground passage for a while It was there I first realised it That I first understood how nothing really dies Just because we are trapped in time, we assume that there is only one direction to go But when we are dead, when we are out of time, everything returns Everything is part of everything else Someone once told me a wonderful thing He told me that our bodies are made out of dead stars We carry their light inside us So everything goes back Everything is part of the pattern We carry our origin within us, and we can never rest until we have returned.As a meditator this quote resonates with me Reminds me of the Stephen Hawking quote Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet


  4. John Kruse John Kruse says:

    Ackroyd is a writer of some standing I actually enjoy his nonfiction to his fiction I liked the idea of this book the mixture of archaeology and astronomy was intriguing to me, but I found his characters and their dialogue stilted and unrealistic and the ultimate conclusion unconvincing and and unsatisfying Their were many lovely descriptions and ideas, but overall it was a little disappointing.


  5. Samantha Samantha says:

    I checked it out on a whim and was not disappointed A very enjoyable read with a lot of pulpy goodness.


  6. Koorihime-sama Koorihime-sama says:

    CHECKED OUT THE BOOK FROM MY PUBLIC LIBRARY.Review Rating 3 out of 5With the discovery of an ancient astronomically aligned grave site in Dorset, everyone is excited over it well, pretty much everyone You see, something or someone is doing its best to sabotage and scare the archaeologists, led by Mark Clare, from digging there and Pilgrin Valley How is it that something as small as a grave site will bring together a group of people, who seem to have nothing in common with each other I ll be CHECKED OUT THE BOOK FROM MY PUBLIC LIBRARY.Review Rating 3 out of 5With the discovery of an ancient astronomically aligned grave site in Dorset, everyone is excited over it well, pretty much everyone You see, something or someone is doing its best to sabotage and scare the archaeologists, led by Mark Clare, from digging there and Pilgrin Valley How is it that something as small as a grave site will bring together a group of people, who seem to have nothing in common with each other I ll be honest with you I absolutely hated this book And it isn t because of a lack of descriptions, which I love to have in the novels I read I ll continue with the reasons why I didn t like the book in another paragraph since there are a lot of them Oh, yeah, there might be some spoilers about the book toward the end of the review XThe first thing I didn t like about this book is that it was really redundant, which is one of the reasons why the book was extremely slow moving The slow moving plot is another thing I didn t like about the book It took about 100 pages just to get the characters digging and for the something someone to sabotage the dig Then, it went back to slow moving until the last couple of chapters The slow moving gets kind of annoying, so I suggest just reading 20 pages each time you read, then take a break, and then start reading again It kind of eases the pain of it Oh, also, the book kind of jumps from one point to another, which may confuse you if you don t take breaks to think about it.Another thing, I found the characters rather, umm, boring and depressing I m used to reading books where it shows different personalities for each character, like them being happy, sad, etc In this book, they remain their depressing selves I can just imagine a frown on all their faces everyday.I think that s also what made it slow moving because the characters were a little too depressing for me That s pretty much the only things I didn t like about this novel, now for the things I did like about it Even though it is very slow moving, the characters are depressing, and very little action, I liked how the descriptions were always there, no matter how boring it got I know I say the book is boring , but in a weird way, it isn t The author uses poetry, metaphors, descriptions that make it a little less boring, and the author also uses the poetry to bring out a deeper meaning than just having a plot.I read online that some people might be confused about the ending of the book I have my own opinions about what it means Think about it like this the theme mostly is about stars and how everything is connected in some sort of way, it is also about time, change, and death At the end of the book, the characters realize that even though their find is old, the person s family, still has the right to send them back to the sky to be stars which you may say God, in some sort of way Also, that as stars, the souls can still be with their loved ones and watch over them And that to see every star soul in the sky, will be nothing but light, which is what one of the characters sees at the end of the book Well, I that s what I think what the ending means, whether it is right or not, I don t know.Also, I know I put supernatural and horror as the genre, but it isn t really supernatural or horror I just put that because of the summary on the back of the book Unless you scare easily or are very superstitious, it won t be those genre for you I rated it a three mostly because of the deeper meaning I would have rated it a two, that is, if it didn t have that deeper meaning that I like so much So don t read, if you don t like slow moving, redundant novels Also, you have to figure out the deeper meaning to really enjoy the book, but you have to get through the parts I found annoying first D


  7. Alex Alex says:

    In which, notwithstanding the lack of an actual murder, Peter Ackroyd does Midsomer Murders.This is a weird book, all theso because it seems so un weird compared to Ackroyd s usual stuff It s almost a mainstream story It features characters who engage in dialogue of the modern day variety No historical characters are involved Granted, most people are engulfed with the weight of melancholy for much of the time, and the Astronomer Damian Fall has been written by the automatic Peter Ack In which, notwithstanding the lack of an actual murder, Peter Ackroyd does Midsomer Murders.This is a weird book, all theso because it seems so un weird compared to Ackroyd s usual stuff It s almost a mainstream story It features characters who engage in dialogue of the modern day variety No historical characters are involved Granted, most people are engulfed with the weight of melancholy for much of the time, and the Astronomer Damian Fall has been written by the automatic Peter Ackroyd character generation bot And, this being Ackroyd, Dorset can t just be Dorset, but is a mysterious landscape whose history is bored into its very rocks, where generations of etc, etc.In Martha Temple, Ackroyd s created a character of joyous loathsomeness I wanted another side of hers to emerge And I had this nagging feeling that the pacing didn t quite work the later bits should have come a little earlier and so long And when, in the final standoff, the rural farmer shouts to his son get the pitchforks you can t help but laugh at the dialogue, although the other characters are laughing with us the clunkiness is deliberate, and the sound of an author having fun So not The Wicker Man but rather Midsomer Murders and all very enjoyable


  8. Martin Boyle Martin Boyle says:

    Ackroyd s mystic novels are always good reads, mixing threads across history the influence of the past on the present with dark and threatening plots Hawksmoor is perhaps the most effective of these First Light certainly has its good share of suspense and mystery, so it draws the reader on in its at times frenetic paceFirst Light brings in a lot of humour and that helps increase the tension built up in the central plot But the characters not all of them minor creating this light he Ackroyd s mystic novels are always good reads, mixing threads across history the influence of the past on the present with dark and threatening plots Hawksmoor is perhaps the most effective of these First Light certainly has its good share of suspense and mystery, so it draws the reader on in its at times frenetic paceFirst Light brings in a lot of humour and that helps increase the tension built up in the central plot But the characters not all of them minor creating this light hearted at times burlesque, in the original English meaning of the word environment are often too big, too dominant in the story What could or perhaps should have been incidental highlights make the main focus seem less important Is it a threatening, dark and complex thriller, or a comedy Well it feels like neither, really.It is a good read, though I liked it and might easily have given it a four star rating if it were not for this flaw While Dickens gets away with it in Bleak House, I m afraid Ackroyd doesn t quite make it in First Light


  9. Suri Suri says:

    Took much longer than I thought I would to complete the book NO credit taken away from the book though I haven t read much science fiction but the idea of reading something with a mix of science astronomy, archaeology , human relationships, and mystery sounded just about right I picked this book as a run up to reading the Foundation series from Asimov I m not even sure if First Light is the right place to start for it, but I m glad I picked it The story develops from multiple points of vie Took much longer than I thought I would to complete the book NO credit taken away from the book though I haven t read much science fiction but the idea of reading something with a mix of science astronomy, archaeology , human relationships, and mystery sounded just about right I picked this book as a run up to reading the Foundation series from Asimov I m not even sure if First Light is the right place to start for it, but I m glad I picked it The story develops from multiple points of view and slowly culminates in one location event There were no lose ends through the story development and spoiler alert discovering that the Mints were aware of the tumulus all along and held sacred the sarcophagus inside becomes evident with about a tenth of the book to go I was hoping for atranscendental explanation to the happenings, but Ackroyd did not deprive me of the mystery element with hishuman and simplistic conclusion 3 5 definitely and would surely go back to readingfrom him, though not immediately


  10. Marie Marie says:

    I felt so deeply while reading this book It was so melancholy and so metaphysical I didn t know what to expect It s about archaeology.but not really It s about astronomybut not really It s about depression, and some of the characters are so deliciously malicious.I thought that an alien would pop up somewhere, to be honest, but they didn t It s the kind of book that you start out reading with a wrinkled brow and end up with a different wrinkled brow, but it s a sad one.