A parable about two young people drawn together by spiritual affinity.
In this short book by Pedersen (Sophia, 2013, etc.), set in a vaguely medieval place and time, an illiterate young man named Metaxaeus, working in a village with his parents and friends, is an instinctively, supremely talented sculptor. He knows “how to take from that fountain within and to soak up its knowledge and then how to communicate this truth through the medium of sculpting stone.” He’s mentored in this skill by a mysterious woman named Maya, who teaches him to “Learn with your whole soul how to carve in stone.” He keeps with him at all times a small sculpture of his own creation—an exquisite miniature bird carved from a jewel, which strikes even his workaday parents as life-changingly beautiful. Another exquisite, tiny sculpture is key to Pedersen’s other main character, a young woman named Akasha who lives in another village and has a nearly supernatural gift for storytelling (“she had learned to plunge deep into herself, and she saw things there, things she imagined that other people did not see”). When Metaxaeus decides to leave his village and travel to the capital city of his region, Pederson works to bring the two together in what turns out to be a lifelong spiritual journey. Overall, the author writes clearly and expressively. For example, the plot’s series of visions and revelations are followed by a cycle of prose poems called “The Stars in the Fall,” which continue the themes of revelation and serendipity that drive the main text (“Wisdom never works without a smile,” reads one typical line, “one which then bequeaths itself joyously to others”). But although the story’s main characters have enigmatic mentors and sympathetic natures, there isn’t much in the way of meaty dialogue. The book’s tone is also occasionally somewhat flat, and it relies too heavily on signs and wonders that may wear thin for readers who aren’t already enthusiastic about spiritual literature.
An evocative but slight fantasy about artists seeking fulfillment through art and faith.