Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Shadow Within

(Babylon 5) The Shadow Within. Jeanne Cavelos. 1997. Random House (Dell) 260 pages.

Anna Sheridan rested her elbow on her desk and her chin on her nested fists, studying the artifact that lay before her. 

Though it's not her fault, viewers never really get to know Anna Sheridan. When we meet John Sheridan in season two, when we meet the 'new' commander of Babylon 5, well, Anna's already dead. We see him grieving her. We see him very sad and feeling guilty--like in the episode "Revelations" and at times very, very, very angry. Like in the episode, "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum."

The Shadow Within is set before season one, before the events of the pilot episode, "The Gathering." But even though it's set prior to the show, I would think it is one best read after seeing season two--at the very least "In The Shadow of Z'ha'dum." And for the full impact, you should wait until the oh-so-very-dramatic season three finale, "Z'ha'dum."

Read The Shadow Within
  • If you want to meet Anna Sheridan. If you want to get to know the woman John spent years of his life loving. 
  • If you want to learn more about John Sheridan. If you want to see what he is like in action, as a commander of a ship. If you want to see him as a leader.
  • If you want to know more about Mr. Morden. If you are curious about WHY he is the way he is. (Viewers first meet Mr. Morden in "Signs and Portents" (season one). 
  • If you are interested in the uncovering of alien artifacts and 'scientific' explorations.
  • If you are interested in learning more about HomeGuard and Psi Corps. 
  • If you are interested in learning more about the Shadows
  • If you want to know more about Kosh and Delenn. (And who doesn't want to know more about Kosh?!)
If you've seen "Z'ha'dum" then it will provide you with a fuller understanding of the events leading up to that ever-dramatic finale. You'll see the how and why of it all. You'll know why that planet is so very dangerous.

If you haven't seen "Z'ha'dum" then it will still help you to understand more about the Shadows. It will help you see the tragic events all that much clearer. Knowing more about Anna--who she was in life and death--will help you connect more, perhaps. And maybe just maybe the same could be said for Mr. Morden as well. Though if you can find a way to sympathize with him--even after the novel--well, that's something that I couldn't do.

There is nothing within the novel itself that will spoil "Z'ha'dum" for you. So if you haven't seen season three yet, you can still read this one. But I think that you need to have at least seen *some* of the episodes of season two. You need to be a little familiar at least with the Shadows and Mr. Morden. And you need to have met John Sheridan and care about him.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Susan said...

Becky, I was devoted to this series when it was on tv in the 1990's! I own most of it now, and am due for a rewatch soon. I've tried to read a novel or two in the Babylon series and couldn't. Until now - your review of this novel makes me think this is one I could read. I love all the Z'ha'dum episodes, and actually have thought long and hard about how Mr Morden's question "What do you want?" set the series on the long spin to the events at Z'ha'dum. And, I'm delighted to meet another fan of the show!

Susan said...

PS and the Shadows will always give me the creeps and nightmare. Always.