Less a fantasy than an extended allegory about the dissemination of God's word to mankind, this ambitious, engrossing novel by the author of the acclaimed Thomas and Charlotte Pitt Victorian mysteries (The Twisted Root, Forecasts, Aug. 23, etc.) tackles the infinite battle between good and evil through its title character, Tathea. One moonlit night, Ta-Thea--as she is known while Empress of Shinabar, her world's most ancient, advanced civilization--is awakened by screams. Her husband and young son murdered, Ta-Thea flees her home and takes on a new name and an epic journey as she seeks both understanding of her personal tragedy and a reason to continue living. With Ishrafeli, a steadfast comrade who lends support to her quest, Tathea encounters new lands and engages in their inhabitants' clashes with mortal dilemmas of the flesh and the spirit alike. When she has tested her mettle sufficiently and not found it wanting, Tathea witnesses a debate between the Man of Holiness and his adversary, Asmodeus, which leads her to a precious Book, whose teachings she undertakes to divine and share with the world against opposition beyond her imagining. Although Perry's prose tends toward the florid, and she at times sacrifices her characters' dimensionality in favor of homily--spending much of their dialogue and Tathea's thoughts on somewhat repetitive philosophies about the Book--she has devised here a powerful, inventive meditation on the possibilities that lie in and beyond the origin of religion. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999 Release date: 09/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
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