The Fifth Sacred Thing

The Fifth Sacred Thing

4.9 20
by Starhawk

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An epic tale of freedom and slavery, love and war, and the potential futures of humankind tells of a twenty-first century California clan caught between two clashing worlds, one based on tolerance, the other on repression.

From the Trade Paperback edition.


An epic tale of freedom and slavery, love and war, and the potential futures of humankind tells of a twenty-first century California clan caught between two clashing worlds, one based on tolerance, the other on repression.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ecofeminist activist and author Starhawk's dystopian novel about a futuristic California. (July)
Library Journal
Known for her works in women's spirituality and ecofeminism, Starhawk has conjured a visionary tale of a multicultural community of witches where poverty, prejudice, hunger, and thirst do not prevail. The surrounding world, set in present-day San Francisco, manifests every 20th-century nightmare: ozone depletion, deadly pollution, a fundamentalist religion-based government, and food and water shortages. The central question haunting a community of well-cast characters is how to resist invading Southern forces without resorting to violence. This strong debut fits well among feminist futuristic, utopic, and dystopic works by the likes of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ursula LeGuin, and Margaret Atwood. Starhawk is the author of The Spiral Dance ( LJ 11/1/79), Dreaming the Dark ( LJ 9/15/82), and Truth or Dare (HarperSanFrancisco, 1989). Recomended for literary collections.-- Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
John Mort
It's biotechnology against witchcraft--the first is bad, the second is good--in this radical fantasy from Miriam Simos (Starhawk), the ecofeminist author of the women's spirituality classic, "The Spiral Dance" (1979). The setting is (where else?) California, sometime toward the middle of the next century; witches have formed an environmentally pure society--honoring witchcraft's four sacred elements of air, fire, water, and earth--in the hills around San Francisco. Theirs is a response to a world decimated by war and poisoned by chemicals. Massing for an attack against the witches are a mix of technical, military, and agribusiness types called the Stewards, who, among other things, use televangelism to keep the masses in chains. The warlock Bird escapes from a Steward prison to warn the witches and reunites with his lover, the healer Madrone; trouble is, if the noble colony responds to force with force, the folly of violence but continues. The seer Maya must dream of the answer--or the fifth sacred thing. With her detail, her humor, her skill in building suspense and a sense of adventure, Starhawk invites comparison with Atwood and LeGuin. Ayn Rand also comes to mind, however--Starhawk is far subtler, but occasionally her characters step onto soapboxes, and her love scenes are a mite klunky ("`Don't be an asshole,' she said gently."). Yet, on balance, this is beautifully done: it tells a powerful, genuinely visionary story, and, just as impressively, it takes near-cult notions and tilts them agreeably toward the mainstream. For good or ill, Starhawk's California is about as far from Kansas as you can get.

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Random House Publishing Group
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The Fifth Sacred Thing 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
revkev313 More than 1 year ago
I read this book many years ago and now here in 2011 it is still with me. I could feel and see parts of myself in almost of the characters, even those in the South. Every time I hear something going on here in the US, I think of this book. Lost my copy but will probably purchase another soon, wish it was in Nook format.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago and loved it. It has stayed with me for years. Highly recommended.
Rhaine More than 1 year ago
First off, I love the basic plot of the book. I presents a very possible reality of our future. Unless we really start paying attention to our environment we could really face a future in which the power of the government is based on the amount of water they control. Everything about this book is just amazing. It mixes just enought fantasy, but not too much to keep it realistic. I would recommend this book to anyone open-minded enough to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an inspiring combination of spirituality and adventure. The society created in it encompasses all religions, all cultures and encourages tolerance, love and peace. I guess you'll get what you're supposed to out of it, but it altered my perception of the world and life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some of the violence herein may be too much for some people to take. I'd heard the term 'emotional rollercoaster' before, but always felt it was just a cliché. This is the real thing. The highs are very high and the lows are very low. It is an epic in the Hugo tradition-making you affirm life half the time, and curse the world as unfair the rest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
San Francisco is the last bastion of freedom, in Starhawk's novel, while the rest of the country is a 1984-ish nightmare. A touch of adventure, some Wiccan philosophy and magic, and an inspiring vision of the way we could shape our future (or a horrifying one on the other hand) combine to make an excellent read.
BookCore More than 1 year ago
Here we have an example of the best possible future (people working together peacefully for the benefit of all) next to a picture of the worst possible future (all the wrong people end up in charge).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by some friends, I had recently read 'Mysts of Avalon' and they both said if I liked that (which I did) I should read this book. I am also very interested in feminism and in alternate lifestyles so this book hit a chord in all those areas. At first it took some time to get really interested in the story (and it's a long book) but once I got a few chapters under my belt I thoroughly enjoyed it -- really identified and cared about the characters. I loved the ideal society portrayed and the way they ended up 'defending' themselves. If you are interested in alternative societies, strong female characters, pagan/wiccan you would find this book very interesting and enjoyable!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is definately not a Wicca 101 book on how to become. It's a very well writen, warning(if you will)on the very real problems all Witches & Pagans are already starting to have, & how much worse it may get. StarHawk is a fantastic writer & I own almost all of her books. I am 22 years into Reclaiming Tradition, Something that wouldn't be without StarHawk & some othef equally talented people.(You all know who you are)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are memorable. the subtle weaving together of thoughts and deeds is beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Top five favorite books of all time. This novel takes you on a journey to a not so far off foreseeable future of our government, society, human rights, and faith. This is a great read for anyone who is in tune with today's social issues and tomorrow's outcome.
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BrianGriffith More than 1 year ago
I think this book is maybe the greatest thing Starhawk ever did. It's a monument of imagination, where she fully fleshes out the alternative society of her dreams -- how it will function, think, and feel. She imagines just about the worst disasters we could throw at ourselves, in our present state of mind, and then plausibly shows how the society of witches could emerge from that, as a victory of basic human decency. Of all alternative worlds I've seen in books or screens, I like this one the best. --author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization
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