First Light
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 Valley.

Someone (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.

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First Light Reviews

  • mark monday
    Dec 31, 1969

    mark monday

    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 diff...

  • Nikhilesh Sinha
    Dec 31, 1969

    Nikhilesh Sinha

    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...

  • John Kruse
    Dec 31, 1969

    John Kruse

    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 unconvin...

  • Koorihime-sama
    Dec 31, 1969


    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 arc...

  • Alex
    Dec 31, 1969


    In which, notwithstanding the lack of an actual murder, Peter Ackroyd does 'Midsomer Murders'.This is a weird book, all the more so 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 moder...

  • Martin Boyle
    Dec 31, 1969

    Martin Boyle

    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 t...

  • Suri
    Dec 31, 1969


    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 pi...

  • Marie
    Dec 31, 1969


    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 astronomy...but not really. It's about depression, and some of the characters are so deliciously malicious.I thought th...

  • Bob Cropf
    Dec 31, 1969

    Bob Cropf

    I believe this was his first novel and the developmental aspect shows. Still, it is an interesting read if only because it shows some indications of Ackroyd's gifts as a writer which become much clearer in his later works of non-fiction, which include London: Biography of a City and th...

  • Shovelmonkey1
    Dec 31, 1969


    I have already developed polarity issues with this book and I haven't even read it yet. I am at once both repelled by it and, at the same time, strangely drawn to it all because of its subject matter... am bumping this toward the top of the pile in order to deal with the aforementioned...