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THE ANCIENT ONE by T.A. Barron

THE ANCIENT ONE

By T.A. Barron

Age Range: 12 - 18

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-399-21899-8
Publisher: Philomel

 A long but well-peopled fantasy with a strong environmental message. When Kate, 13, tries to help stop a group of unemployed Oregon loggers from cutting a unique stand of redwoods, she's cast back five centuries and propelled into the struggle against Gashra, a megalomaniac volcano creature with a very real ``scorched earth policy.'' The strongest feature of this novel is not the wandering, predictable plot but the colorful cast, especially the nonhumans- -boulder-like Stonehags, many-eyed underwater Guardians, lizard-folk, owl-folk, and (best of all) the monstrous Gashra, a delicious combination of tyrannosaur, octopus, and two-year-old- -who add a strong dash of humor as well as occasional prophecies and rescues. In the end, Kate recovers a stolen power crystal, sends Gashra back into the earth for a few more centuries (take heed), and returns to her own time to witness one last desperate logger felling the oldest redwood just before a protective injunction takes effect. Barron shows some understanding of the loggers' plight, but pushes concepts like the interconnectedness of nature, our arrogance toward the environment, and the necessity of preservation (both directly and metaphorically). Still, much better wrought than the author's tedious Heartlight (1990). (Fiction. 12-18)