The Sparrow shifts between two connected narratives. The first narrative is the story of the priest Emilio Sandoz’s return to Earth and the Jesuit leadership’s inquiry into what happened to him on the planet Rakhat. These hearings occur between December 2059 and August 2060. The second narrative, beginning in 2019, is the story of the mission itself.
The novel begins in 2059. Emilio Sandoz, the lone survivor from the Jesuit mission to the planet Rakhat, has returned to Earth, triggering a storm of media attention. The Jesuit Father General, Vincenzo Giuliani, has brought John Candotti and Edward Behr to help Emilio through the hearings.
Emilio is a broken man. He suffers from malnutrition, debilitating headaches, night terrors, and mental confusion. His physical injuries include permanently mutilated hands.
The Father General begins the hearings to discover what happened on Rakhat. He explains to Emilio that after the mission secretly departed, the news of it became public, and...
(The entire section contains 11362 words.)