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In the late nineteenth century, a seemingly ordinary woman embarks on an extraordinary adventure in the Alaskan gold fields—after her destiny is revealed to her by something not of this world.

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In the late nineteenth century, a seemingly ordinary woman embarks on an extraordinary adventure in the Alaskan gold fields—after her destiny is revealed to her by something not of this world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If this novel by Hugo- and Nebula Award–winning author Joe Haldeman's were a recipe, it would read: two cups of Camille Flammarion's Lumen, one cup Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, with a teaspoon of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and a pinch of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven."

Guardian is the diary of Rosa Tolliver, a young woman growing up in post–Civil War America. After graduating from college, Rosa marries a lawyer, has a baby, and is living a seemingly charmed life in Philadelphia. But all is not well. When Rosa finds her husband sodomizing their son, Daniel, she decides to flee cross-country with Daniel and start a new life. Once safely in Dodge City, Rosa gets a job teaching and watches Daniel grow into a young man. But her husband is relentless, and when a Pinkerton agent shows up at their doorstep with orders to take Daniel back to his father, the two must run again. This time they go to Alaska, where Daniel has dreams of gold mining. When he is killed by a drunken miner, Rosa contemplates suicide and is visited by a strange raven that has been following her since Philadelphia.

Like all Haldeman works, Guardian is puzzling, powerful, and profound. Rosa's spiritual journey through time and space is both entertaining and enlightening. Paul Goat Allen

The New York Times
What began as a pleasant enough exercise in low-key (if well researched) nostalgia suddenly balloons into a quest for cosmic truth. The only link between the two is Rosa herself, who retains a no-nonsense approach to life and death even when she takes on the aspect of a dinosaurlike creature with ''an elephant-sized hunger'' for rotting flesh. What she learns on her guided tour of the multiverse leads to actions that, perhaps too neatly, allow Haldeman to make a plea for rational control of the powerful forces that science has put into our hands in the new millennium. It is hard to imagine this eminently likable book changing anyone's mind about the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war. But for those who instinctively recoil from the notion of making peace by killing people, it is nice to hear that someone or something out there concurs. — Gerald Jonas
Publishers Weekly
Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Haldeman (The Forever War) reworks classic SF themes in this odd and unsatisfying pastiche of travel narrative, alternate history, American Indian lore and adventure story. In 1879, Rosa Tolliver, a college-educated blueblood, marries a wealthy man who turns out to be a brute. She flees her Philadelphia mansion with her 14-year-old son, Daniel, and the two of them make their way to Dodge City, Kans. Rosa retrospectively describes the trip in incredible detail: the modes of transportation they took; the people they met; the books she read. With each carefully placed detail, Rosa weaves the tapestry of her life, and among the threads, she hints at a destiny: something extraordinary happens to her, and each book she reads, each decision she makes, in retrospect has something to do with this destiny. Her stay in Dodge City lasts only four years, and she and Daniel flee again when a Pinkerton detective tracks them down. Another well-documented trip-this time to Alaska-follows. Toward the end, an Indian shaman, Raven, shows her alien wonders and a vision of a future Earth. The minute detail and foreshadowing are wearying, and Rosa's destiny ultimately falls flat: it's a tale of courage told by a courageous but unimaginative woman. (Dec. 3)
Library Journal
Fleeing an abusive marriage, Rosa Coleman and her teenage son, Daniel, begin a cross-country trek in the waning years of the 19th century. Their journey leads them to Alaska, where Rosa experiences a mystical encounter with a raven that changes her life forever. The author of The Forever War delivers an elegant parable of many worlds and multiple possibilities while telling the tale of a courageous woman whose life spans most of a century and whose hopes and dreams cross the barrier between worlds. A good choice for libraries where Haldeman enjoys a following. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780441011063
  • Publisher: Penquin Group
  • Publication date: 7/27/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 4.32 (w) x 6.72 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Haldeman is a Vietnam veteran whose classic novels The Forever War and Forever Peace both have the rare honor of winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He has served twice as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and is currently an adjunct professor teaching writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    woman¿s fight to survive and triumph

    She was only a child when the civil war started but her parents were wise enough to send her up North to relatives when it looked like the south would lose. She stayed at a boarding school until she went to Wellestey College where she met and later married Edward Tolliver, a rich and powerful man. The marriage wasn¿t a happy one but when Rosa saw her husband sodomize their son Daniel, she knew it was time to leave. Rosa and Daniel traveled to Dodge City where they had many happy year together until a Pinkerton agent hired by Edward arrived on the scene to take Daniel back to his father. Daniel conked the agent over the head, allowing them to escape and they decide to see if they could get rich in Alaska. While Daniel is in the field panning for gold, a drunken miner kills him and Rosa decides to kill herself until a spirit guide named Raven takes her around the universe. When Rosa returns, her actions change the course of history and save millions of lives. Award winning author Joe Haldeman has written a very simple story about a woman¿s fight to survive and triumph. What is not so simple is the way the protagonist has to learn those lessons but what would defeat another person doesn¿t even phase Rose. She takes what she learns and applies it to her everyday life and in doing so makes the world a better place. Harriet Klausner

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