Svaha

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Overview

Out beyond the Enclaves, in the desolation between the cities, an Indian flyer has been downed. A chip encoded with vital secrets is missing. Only Gahzee can venture forth to find it—walking the line between the Dreamtime and the Realtime, bringing his people's ancient magic to bear on the poisoned world of tomorrow.

Bringing hope, perhaps, for a new dawn. . .

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Overview

Out beyond the Enclaves, in the desolation between the cities, an Indian flyer has been downed. A chip encoded with vital secrets is missing. Only Gahzee can venture forth to find it—walking the line between the Dreamtime and the Realtime, bringing his people's ancient magic to bear on the poisoned world of tomorrow.

Bringing hope, perhaps, for a new dawn. . .

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"De Lint is as engaging a stylist as Stephen King, but considerably more inventive and ambitious." —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Opening de Lint's work is like stepping through a mirror." —Los Angeles Daily News

"De Lint is a romantic; he believes in the great things, faith, hope, and charity (especially if love is included in that last), but he also believes in the power of magic—or at least the magic of fiction—to open our eyes to the world." —Edmonton Journal

Toronto Globe and Mail
De Lint is as engaging a stylist as Stephen King, but considerably more inventive and ambitious.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312876500
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 11/18/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Holland in 1951, Charles de Lint grew up in Canada, with a few years off in Turkey, Lebanon, and Switzerland.

Although his first novel was 1984's The Riddle of the Wren, it was with Moonheart, published later that same year, that de Lint made his mark, and established him at the forefront of "urban fantasy," modern fantasy storytelling set on contemporary city streets. Moonheart was set in and around "Newford," an imaginary modern North American city, and many of de Lint's subsequent novels have been set in Newford as well, with a growing cast of characters who weave their way in and out of the stories. The Newford novels include Spirit Walk, Memory and Dream, Trader, Someplace To Be Flying, Forests of the Heart, The Onion Girl, and Spirits in the Wires. In addition, de Lint has published several collections of Newford short stories, including Moonlight and Vines, for which he won the World Fantasy Award. Among de Lint's many other novels are Mulengro, Jack the Giant-Killer, and The Little Country.

Married since 1980 to his fellow musician MaryAnn Harris, Charles de Lint lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

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Read an Excerpt

ONE

1

Rattle and drum.

It was beautiful music. Deer hoof rattles and cedar-shelled water drums. The clatter of bird quills against the skins of the hoop band drums. Speaking to the animiki, the grandfather thunders. The voices of the People raised in song.

"Midewewigun, n'gaganoodumaugonaun," they sang. The drums speak for us.

In the clear night skies, the animiki rumbled. Giwitaweidang, the scout thunder that goes all around the sky. Andjibnes, the renewer of power.

"Mino-dae aeshowishinaung," the People sang. "Tchi minoinaudiziwinaungaen." Fill our spirits with good; upright then may be our lives.

The underpinning rhythm of the drums spoke to the feet of the dancers, to the shaking rattles in their hands, the stamping of their heels. A Parting Dance. Alone in the center, one man sat, his water drum speaking under the palms of his hands.

"N'midewewigunim, manitouwiyauwih," he sang. Upon my drum bestow the mystery.

"K'neekaunissinaun, ani-maudjauh," the People replied. Our brother, he is leaving.

Not to walk the Path of Souls, but to walk in the Outer Lands.

"K'neekaunissinaun, zunugut ae-nummook." Our brother, difficult is the road.

Alone he drummed by the post of a living green tree that had been cut and then erected in the center of the glade. A great fire burned beside it.

"K'neekaunissinaun, kego binuh-kummeekaen," the People sang. Our brother, do not stumble.

They sang to him, of the path he would take, as though he had died, as though he would never return during this turn of the world's wheel. In some ways, it was true, for to walk the Outer Lands meant one could not return, whether one lived or one died. To the tribe, it would be as though he died. So they sang to him and let their drums speak to the thunders, asking the grandfathers to bestow their medicine on him to give him strength on his journey.

He acknowledged the gift. "Kikinowautchi-beedaudae," he sang. It shall be written.

Then he set his water drum aside and rose to dance. He offered his hand to the oldest of the women present. Maudji-Geezhigquae—Moving Sky Woman. His uncle's mother. In conducting her to the dance, through the joining of the hands of young and old, he sought to gain endurance from her long life. It was also the hand of man espousing that of woman, the giver of life.

Other women then rose and danced. Old men joined, followed finally by the very young. The water drums continued to speak. The animiki replied. The bird quills on the hoop band drums and the rattles in the hands of the dancers added a high counterpoint rhythm.

Now they represented a madjimadzuin, a moving line, an earthly Milky Way connecting those who have gone before with those who follow. The old singers often told of the Milky Way stars that rode the skies at night, how they were a part of an enormous bucket-handle that held the earth in place. If ever it broke, the world would come to an end. So it was with the chain of madjimadzuin. When it broke, a clan ended.

The People danced that madjimadzuin now to assure their departing brother that the tribe would continue, that it would hold a place for him. They would meet again in the west, across the river that separates Epanggishimuk, the Land of Souls, from the world of the living. They would meet again in that spirit realm joined only to this world by meekunnaug, the Path of Souls.

He would be reborn from Epanggishimuk, into the tribe once more. The madjimadzuin would remain unbroken.

• • •

Later he stood in the Lodge of Medicine with a medé of his totem, Manitouwaub—Sees Like a Spirit. The medés' computers hummed around them, but no other sound carried in the broad room. He glanced at the wall mural depicting Negik—the otter totem, first patron of the Medewewin. The bright primary colors of the mural relaxed the tension in his shoulders. He let his gaze travel left from Negik to where his own totem gazed back at him from a corner of the mural, Makinak—the turtle. He inclined his head slightly, then bore his knapsack from the Lodge, Manitouwaub walking at his side, neither of them speaking as they traveled to the borders of the Enclave. There they were met by their chief, Zhawano-Geezhig—Blue Sky.

The borders of the Enclave rose misty before them, an opaque gaseous wall that stood as high as the eye could see, and higher. It had no true physical shape as might be measured by the eye, yet it was a more effective wall than any other barrier yet devised by men, in or out of the Enclaves. Manitouwaub took his spirit pipe from his bandolier and the three men shared its sacred smoke.

"Saemauh waussaeyaukaugae," Zhawano-Geezhig said to him. Tobacco will clear the cloud.

He nodded, understanding. Even in the Outer World, the manitou would be with him.

Manitouwaub gave him the pipe which he stowed away in his knapsack.

"Tci-manaudjimikooyaun, n'd'aupinumoon," he said to the medé. I am honored to receive your gift.

Manitouwaub spoke no word, merely embraced him. All words between them had been spoken before. The time for instruction had passed. Now was a time for ritual only, to evoke the sacred medicine of the manitou for his task.

He turned then. An engineer appeared at his elbow to show him the way through the barrier—a door-shaped grayness that appeared in the opaque mists, controlled by a miniaturized instrument that the engineer held in his hand. Just as he was passing through, he heard Zhawano-Geezhig say softly, "Auzhigo n'waubumauh gawissaet." Already I see him fall. Then he was through the barrier, stepping from the clean night air of the Enclave of the People into the poisoned world of the Outer Lands.

• • •

Later still, he stood on the roof of a deserted tenement building, looking not at the endless sprawl of the Toronto-Quebec Corridor that ran for a hundred klicks like a river of broken buildings and streets from the southwest to the northeast, nor at the smog-yellow skies that hid the stars and bright light of the moon above him, but back along the path he had taken, back to where the pale mist of the Enclave's borders rose ghostlike at the edge of the corridor where the northward march of the ruined structures ended.

I will remember, he thought. Though I never return, I will remember.

He was Gahzee Animiki-Waewidum of the Turtle totem whose home had once been the Anishnabeg/Huron Enclave of Kawarthas—Place of Bright Waters and Happy Lands. No matter where he fared, or what the people of these Outer Lands did to him, that could never be taken away.

In the days to come, memory might comfort. But not now. What was lost was still too fresh. Loneliness cut too deeply. The reality of the Outer Lands was too intense, all around him.

Thunder sounded in the distance. Bodreudang, the approaching thunder. A storm was coming. Not the clean rain of the Enclave, but the acid rain of the Outer Lands. Still it was good to hear one of the grandfathers in this place, good to know that manitou still walked its hills and valleys where only the ruins of buildings and the buckling concrete of forgotten streets grew now.

Suddenly he smiled, then threw back his head and laughed. He was still Gahzee Animiki-Waewidum—Swift Speaks with Thunder. No longer simply a medé of the People, but their animkwan now as well. A dog-scout for his tribe in the Outer Lands. He could go forth doleful, with his head hanging, like a wolf with its tail between its legs, or he could go as one of the People, cheerful in adversity, accepting the challenge for what it was.

"Inaendaugwut," he murmured. It is permitted, meaning that while events were caused by forces outside of a man, the exercise of personal talents and prerogatives were predicted by a man himself. This was not exile into which he fared. Rather the manitou had steered him into an opportunity to grow in spirit and in accordance with the world.

Shouldering his pack, he made his way back down the treacherous steps of the building's inner stairwell and began his journey, heading northeast along the TOPQ Corridor. When the rains finally came, he ducked into the shelter of a nearby building, miles distant from where he had first heard the thunder. Legs crossed, he sat in its doorway and watched the acidic rains hiss and splatter on the stones outside the door.

Copyright © 1989 by Charles de Lint

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Classic SF

    As the twenty-first century is half way through its final decade, the world is a terrible place to live except for the Enclaves. Most of the residents of the planet live in polluted communities ruled totally by money and greed with things turning worse all the time as the world nears collapse under the weight of destruction and devastation and dissolution. On the other hand, the Enclave is a clean environment where the tribes thrive in peace. The powers of the disease ridden environs outside the Enclave blame the problems on the Tribes as a means of diverting accountability by using a convenient scapegoat to silent the masses. <P>A flyer containing an Enclave technological chip that could help cleanse the world crashes in the outside. Afraid that it will be misused, the Enclavers send Gahzee into the precarious mess to retrieve the chip before the outside world begins encroachment on the Enclaves. <P> SVAHA is a reprint of the classic tale of Native American magic mingling in a world on the eve of destruction caused by self-interests polluting the environment and the minds of the people. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action, and loaded with fully developed characters representing different sides of the conflict. This novel shows why Charles de Lint has been so highly regarded by fans of science fiction and fantasy for well over a decade. Readers of HIERO¿S JOURNEY will fully relish this great tale. <P>Harriet Klausner

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