Lest Darkness Fall is an entertaining time travel novel by L. Sprague de Camp. It is about an archeologist named Martin who, while visiting Rome, is struck by lightening and sent back to the 6th century. Once there, Martin must survive with the meager possessions he has on him. However, not only does he survive, he decides to take it upon himself to prevent the “Dark Ages” from ever happening by introducing great inventions from later time periods, hence the title of the book.
The book is very good because of the colorful characters and the believability of the environment. For example, the banker Thomasus, who becomes a good friend of Martin, is funny as he always first refuses Martin a loan then haggles with him for hours. Also, being arrested in today’s world a person has certain rights and certainly there is no fear for one’s life. But when Martin is arrested on a trumped up charge, he suddenly finds himself listening as Roman “police” casually discuss torturing him. He also finds himself bribing quite a few people throughout the book to get what he wants.
The book is well-written and unpredictable and, although it ends in a good way, you want it to go on and on. The only minor gripe I have is how believable it is that Martin, an archeologist, is able to get parts fabricated and put together complicated equipment such as a printing press in the 6th century. There’s nothing to indicate he has any special engineering skills to accomplish these feats, but this doesn’t detract much from the overall story. Lest Darkenss Fall is definitely an enjoyable read for those who like historical or science fiction and I highly recommend this classic.