Well worth the investment in time and $, Shelley's history is wide-ranging and accessible, written out of a devout Protestant perspective but never flinching from the appalling and inexcusable ways in which the Visible Church has often behaved. Shelley's portrait aligns with the "already and not yet" reality of an Invisible Church being constructed, as a work of the Spirit, like a house of cards in a whirlwind--a seeming impossibility, nevertheless we catch rare but crystal-clear glimpses of this miracle wrought from the hand of the One who "commands the very wind and waves."
Ann Leckie is so intelligent and so wise about the way she crafts her stories. What we have here is a slow burn fantasy novel told from the perspective of an ancient god that resides in a huge rock, a plot summary which does not sound even remotely exciting. But friends, I'm here to tell you that it is. You will see life evolve, languages emerge and change, cultures form and get subsumed, and religious worship come into being. There is war, there is blood sacrifice, there are fully developed queer / trans characters. There is the deep, echoing feeling that life existed before you were born and will continue after you die.
Ironically, today's progressive despises fundamentalists while insisting on reading the Bible only as a bad fundamentalist would - that is, in only the most thoughtless, uninformed and knee-jerk manner possible. This Old Testament survey is an ideal corrective. Leithart is an intellectual Master Chef, astonishing us on nearly every page as he serves up a blend of detail and Big Picture in a rare feast guaranteed to satisfy as round-the-dinner-table family reading or as personal study. So come and view, as you never have before, the intricate design God used to write the first half of His book.