The Fifth Sacred Thing

The Fifth Sacred Thing

Book - 1993
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
A world without poverty or hunger that honors the Four Sacred Things that sustain life--earth, air, fire, and water--is poised to clash with a nightmare society of authoritarian regimes and food and water shortages

Blackwell North Amer
Imagine a world without poverty, hunger, or hatred, where a rich culture honors its diverse mix of races, religions, and heritages, and the Four Sacred Things that sustain all life - earth, air, fire, and water - are valued unconditionally
Now imagine the opposite: a nightmare world in which an authoritarian regime polices an apartheid state, access to food and water is restricted to those who obey the corrupt official religion, women are property of their husbands or the state, and children are bred for prostitution and war.
The best and worst of our possible futures are poised to clash in twenty-first-century California, and the outcome rests on the wisdom and courage of one clan caught in the conflict. Ninety-eight-year-old Maya has helped shape the ecumenical culture of the North by reviving and re-creating an earth-based spiritual tradition. Madrone, the granddaughter of Maya's longtime lovers, is a healer trying to thwart recurring epidemics that she suspects are biological warfare waged by the tyrannical South. Bird, Maya's grandson, returns from ten years in a Southern prison with warnings of impending invasion and an urgent request for help from the resistance in the hills.
When Madrone travels south to aid the rebels and search for a cure to the deadly viruses, she finds herself fighting for her own life alongside battle-weary guerrillas and beautiful pirates. Meanwhile, in the North debates rage about how to repel the invaders.
"All war is first waged in the imagination, first conducted to limit our dreams and visions," Maya says, and warns that by killing their enemies, they may themselves become transformed by vioience and destroy all they have built. Bird champions her alternative vision and becomes a leader of the faction calling for nonviolent resistance. When he is captured and pressured to cooperate with the enemy, the fate of the North hangs in the balance.
Richly imagined and beautifully written, The Fifth Sacred Thing is a powerful novel of ideas and a riveting story about love and war, body and spirit, freedom and slavery, and the future of human life itself.

Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 1993
ISBN: 9780553372229
Characteristics: 486 p. ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Oct 25, 2015

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. A novel that is set in a world that has become destructive to itself and yet there is a community of people that manage to overcome and live harmoniously with each other. There is a also a mixture of adventure and fear when some of the characters are caught outside of the protection of the community. I found the book gave a very beautiful image for myself to dream of one day being part of such a community. When I see the destruction in the world around us the corruption and hunger for money instead of valueing people our own sellfish use of the gifts of our forefathers. I highly recommend this book if you are a dreamer and visionary.

Oct 13, 2013

This book is in my top five. If anyone would ever wonder how non-violent opposition could really work, this book has the vision to illustrate it. Fascinating, creative and inspiring - I loved it!!

Feb 15, 2012

This is a unique view of the future that is both utopian and dystopian in nature. Starhawk writes in this novel about a different way for people to live together, but unlike many similar novels it comes from her direct experience of implementing these techniques in the real world.

It is currently early 2012 and Starhawk is working on a movie and a sequel, which would be great!


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Find it at SMPL

To Top