SECRET SACRAMENT by Sherryl Jordan
Kirkus Star


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Threads of history, legend, and dream interweave to craft an evocative myth of personal and national healing. Gabriel, eldest son of a wealthy merchant, is shamed by his father’s coldness and haunted by guilt from witnessing the murder of a Shinali woman, one of the peaceful natives his Navoran forebears had dispossessed of their tribal lands. He defies family pressure and trains as a healer, earning initiation into the mystical arts taught at the Citadel. While learning to treat sicknesses of body and soul, Gabriel becomes embroiled in the political intrigues of the ailing Navoran Empire. After he reluctantly reveals his gift of dream interpretation, he gains the favor of the empress and the enmity of her ambitious advisor, Jaganath. Failing to corrupt or murder Gabriel, Jaganath tricks him into apparent treason, forcing Gabriel to seek refuge with the Shinali. There, he finds acceptance, purpose, and love, but also danger, brutality, and tragedy; and he must choose whether to embrace his ultimate healing vocation and redeem the prophecy that Shinali and Navoran will eventually flourish as one. Complex and richly symbolic, this deeply spiritual fable rewards thoughtful reading. Using vivid sensory images to subtly reinforce the healing metaphor, Jordan (The Raging Quiet, 1999, etc.) draws heavily upon the ugly history of European colonization, but avoids simplistically pitting evil invaders against noble aborigines. Even the villains act out of comprehensible motives, and minor characters unfold unexpected depths. And Gabriel, who at first appears impossibly saintly, matures into his destiny with an understandable resistance and fear that graces his final sacrifice with almost unbearable dignity and triumph. Heartrending and transcendent. (YA)

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-028904-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2000


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