Review of Mother of Eden – Book 2 of the Dark Eden series by Chris Beckett


I read Dark Eden a while ago – and the gritty, colony adventure deeply impressed me and has lingered in my memory when many other books have been forgotten. So when I encountered this one on the library shelves, I scooped it up.

Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden. Just a few generations ago, the planet’s five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, afraid to venture out into the cold darkness around them.

Now, humanity has spread across Eden, and two kingdoms have emerged. Both are sustained by violence and dominated by men – and both claim to be the favored children of Gela, the woman who came to Eden long ago on a boat that could cross the stars, and became the mother of them all. When young Starlight Brooking meets a handsome and powerful man from across Worldpool, she has no idea what is in store for her…

If you have picked up this one without first reading Dark Eden – don’t. While Mother of Eden can be read as a standalone, there are numerous references to the fabled hero, John, and his followers. In order to appreciate the context and historical distortion around details of his life, I strongly recommend you track down the first book so you understand exactly how John’s life and adventures are being used.

I love the approach Beckett takes to the classic colonist adventure in Dark Eden where the small crew of a crashed ship settle in a nearby valley, eking out a rudimentary existence while waiting for rescue. As they have a lot of time on their hands, sex becomes a main pastime, which in turn leads to a lot of babies.

In this next slice of Eden’s story, humanity has now scattered and we are in the viewpoint of a beautiful young girl living on an isolated island with her sister and some seventy other people. Life is peaceful, if a little slow and limited – until she manages to persuade a small party to make an epic trip across the dark seas to a larger settlement, where she meets someone who will change her life forever. This is a book all about power – who has it, how they go about grasping it and what it takes to hang onto it. It is about the pull of stories and the past. Who gets to tell our history? How is that history fashioned to impact upon our present and future? Beckett gives us answers in this engrossing adventure story that nevertheless, also has some strong messages for us all – history is always fashioned by the victors to justify what happened to make them victorious.

Starlight encounters a culture very different from the peaceful egalitarian existence she has been brought up with on the island. She experiences wealth and luxury beyond her wildest expectations – but discovers the price is very high. The pages kept on turning as I followed her adventure, holding my breath as Beckett is capable of killing off some of his major characters.

Some of the events that unfolded, I could see coming – but there were also plenty of twists that surprised me right up to the end. And when this one finished, I found the characters had burrowed into my brain – the story keeps popping into my head when I’m supposed to be thinking about something else. I think it will continue to do so for quite a while – in just the same way as Dark Eden. The next book in the series, Daughter of Eden, is also available. I’ve promised myself to get hold of it early in the New Year – I want to know what happens next…

18 responses »

  1. You’re wonderful reviews encourage me to read books I might not have otherwise. Happy to see this second book was as good as the first one, Sarah.

    • Thank you so much, Laura! What a lovely thing to say:). Yes – I thoroughly enjoyed this one – to be honest I’d slightly put it off, just in case it wasn’t so it was a HUGE relief when it was!

    • That was what I loved about it – and the fact that Beckett doesn’t feel the need to recap in any way about what happened earlier, except to give his character’s particular versions, which tells its own story. As you say – how cool!

  2. Ooooh, I have Dark Eden on my bookshelf! (In a beautiful hardcover edition by Polish publisher, MAG – I mentioned their Uczta Wyobraźni/Feast of Imagination series before) Not that I’ve read it yet… 😉
    But your review of this book reminded me that it’s on my TBR list.

      • So I’ve heard. It might get delayed though, since I own a physical copy and I’ll soon be packing all my books (again…). But the related news is not 100% confirmed yet, so I’m not saying anything until it is.

      • Ah. Okay, I wait with interest to see what is afoot – and I could REALLY do with that coffee shop interlude so we could properly catch up:))

      • Since it’s almost finalized – we will be moving across states, so I’ll be a bit closer to Europe.
        And I’ll remember to put UK on my visit list so we can meet up. 🙂

      • Oh my goodness – how exciting… I think? You certainly lead a peripatetic life! And it would be lovely to meet up with you in real life:))

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