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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Audio Book Review: The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

This is a fascinating dystopian with strong characters and plot.
The Fifth Sacred Thing
Written by: Starhawk
Narrated by: Maya Lilly
Length: 21 hrs and 52 mins
Release Date:08-29-16
Publisher: Maya Lilly
Genre: Sci Fi, Dystopian, Environmentalism
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Publisher's Summary
One act of courage can change the world.
The year is 2048. Climate change and bio-warfare have ravaged much of the Earth, and societal meltdown has splintered the US into fragments. But out of the ruins, Northern California has built a thriving culture based on respect for the four sacred things: air, fire, water and earth.
The Fifth Sacred Thing is an epic tale of freedom and slavery, love and war, and the potential futures of humankind. It tells of a 21st century California clan caught between two clashing worlds: one based on tolerance, the other on repression. It is both a love story between two people and a war story between two opposing ideals.
©1993, 1994 Miriam Simos (P)2016 Miriam Simos

Madron is a young healer who lives in a future San Francisco that has become an isolated, utopian society in a broken world. Madron lives with her friends and lovers in a multifamily home. Their matriarchal head is Maya, who is nearing 100 years. Maya is of Native American ancestry and has shared her history and stories of the past. She is one of the elders who choose to pattern their community on peace and respect.

Their community thrives as they care for and share the four sacred things: air, fire, water and earth. The people all share in the work; there is no racial division, no crime and no poverty. Some have more than others – not much – but all have enough. No one goes hungry or in need as friends and neighbors help whenever a need exists.

But the communities beyond them are a threat to their way of life. Maya’s grandson, Bird, who was Madron’s first love, left the community at age 19. He and several others determined they must stop the power plant that was leaking radiation and poisoning the lands. It has been ten years since anyone has had word about that group of young rebels. Madron moved on to other lovers but Maya is convinced that Bird is still alive. Madron and others use special “witch” or magic powers in their healing arts. Madron is battling a new virus in the city that she believes was introduced by their enemy neighbors, the Stewards.

The Stewards are the corporation communities who have taken over surrounding cities. The Stewards are controlled by the few wealthy elites who use everyone else in a slave society. They subject women to breeding pens where the children are removed to be raised, trained and mind conditioned for the Steward’s army.

The author moves from Maya and Modron to Bird’s dire situation in prison. Another prisoner helps to shake Bird from his drug induced memory loss. They escape and Bird meets other resisters as he makes his way back home. People are thrilled at his return but are soon distressed by his news that the Steward Army will soon be coming to take over their city. The city council, with a voice for everyone, must decide if they will arm themselves for the fight or find another way to face the enemy.

The author created a fascinating future world with divided communities showing a spectrum from the best situation of sharing to the worst, brutally and chemically controlled polarized situation. In between there are pockets of struggling rebels and “monsters” (disfigured outcasts).

Soon after I began listening, I knew that this story presented a world that I might not be totally comfortable with. Although I believe in spiritual healing, I do not tie that into magic and mysticism. Maya and Modron’s family relationships are very near a ‘coven’ though not necessarily declared “witches”. Their free spirited, sexual openness contrasts sharply with the other communities which are portrayed as sexist, racist and repressive.

It is interesting that this was written back in the 1990s. The writing flows as the author portrays the situations and characters with rich detail. Starhawk created very engaging characters and plausible situations based on our society’s divisions. I wanted to follow the characters struggles to see how they faced the greatest challenge. I loved their special defenses and am glad that I selected this book to review.

Audio Notes: Maya Lilly does a superb job with the narration. The voices are varied with the characters and she even sings beautifully, sharing and enhancing the characters. The narration enriched this story and I highly recommend listening to this unique story.

I received this audio book from the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox.

This is a good video, from the author’s website, that gives a synopsis of the story:

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