Faith was the name given by the Sakhrans to an unidentified and apparently invincible ship which attacked and devastated them. The Book of Srahr was written by a Sakhran who learnt what the ship was; and when they knew its identity, the Sakhrans questioned their own. Their civilisation declined, gently but irreversibly.
Sakhrans were agnostic, and they named the ship Faith out of self-mockery. Faith was something they didn’t understand or want; it came suddenly and uninvited; it would not be denied; and when it left, they were ruined.
Centuries later, Faith comes again. But Sakhra is now an important possession of the Commonwealth, and this time something is waiting: an Outsider, one of the Commonwealth’s ultimate warships.
What follows is a battle between two apparently invincible opponents: a battle between two alien ships, one sent by the Commonwealth to engage the other, sent by nobody knew who. The battle is fought across an entire solar system, and while it rages Foord (who commands the Outsider) learns more about Faith, piece by piece. The battle is complicated and enigmatic, fought in different languages and with different weapons.
Faith is like no opponent Foord has ever known: the bastard child of Moby Dick and Kafka, irresistible and strange. When the battle reaches its conclusion Foord finally sees what his opponent is, and why the Sakhrans turned away from the future and from each other.