The Keeper of Dreams

Simon & Schuster
Title The Keeper of Dreams
ISBN 0684872196
Author Ford, Peter Shann
Binding Hardcover
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publisher Year 2000
Publisher Location New York
Condition Fine
Description 0684872196 The Keeper of Dreams is a juggler's novel: gods, men, kangaroos, tycoons, Japanese soldiers, and Martian robots (to name a few) tumble crazily through the story like a motley assortment of knives and beanbags. When Owen Bird, an amoral Australian billionaire, conspires to steal a tjurunga, or sacred stone, from an Aboriginal tribe, he sets in motion a timeless ritual of revenge. Unless the stone is recovered and the thief punished, the tribe's elders know that their people will die. They must summon the powers of a kudaitja,, or spirit-assassin, to avenge their people and bring Bird to justice. The chosen assassin is a man who knows both the ancient and modern worlds: Robert Erhard is a NASA scientist and a full-blooded Aborigine. His response to the call of the elders--first reluctant, then impassioned--leads him on a grim quest through the outback. He hunts not only the thief, but also his own memories, as his ritual burden moves him back to tribal and individual origins: He felt himself shifting through a blazing membrane. On one surface he was Robert Erhard, scientist, designer and guide of robotic creatures bound for other planets. On the other, he was Tjilkamata, of the Spiny Anteater Dreaming, keeper of all his people's primal stories and songs. He drifted like a slow-moving whirlwind, churning from core to rim, feeling himself cross the membrane from one identity to the other and back. He felt emptiness at his center, and into its space, he sensed another presence, the avenging spirit of Wanampi striving to take possession of him. Peter Shann Ford has produced a novel whose antipodean appeal largely outweighs several regrettable flaws. The lesser of these lapses is Ford's tendency to allow his authentic descriptions of Aboriginal tribal life to drift into sentimental paeans of praise, whose obvious earnestness does little to dispel the uneasy feeling that these powerful people are trapped in a saccharine made-for-TV movie. More significant, however, is the novel's problematic structure: Ford leaps across time and space, juxtaposing event and character to flesh out his characters' histories. His decision was inspired perhaps by the prismatic character of Aboriginal myth and mores, in which past and present infuse one another. Unfortunately, the jarring transitions slow the plot (which is, when allowed to unfold naturally, a real juggernaut) to a funereal pace. Despite these hiccups, The Keeper of Dreams is that rare creature: an original, often gripping, thriller. That it dares to have a message as well as a story is to its author's everlasting credit. --Kelly Flynn From Publishers Weekly With the exotic and harsh background of the modern Australian outback, Ford's debut novel spins a complex yarn of aboriginal mysticism, hocus-pocus and revenge. When the sacred stone of a long-suffering aborigine tribe is stolen, the tribe's wise men invoke ancient magic to punish the thieves and hasten the totem's return. The sacred relic is the foundation of the tribe's holy spirits and must be recovered or the tribe will perish. After aborigine sorcerers conjure death spells, the lackeys holding the stone start to drop in the acrid dust of Australia's northwestern deserts. However, the brains behind the theft is multibillionaire Australian media mogul Owen Bird, whose wealth, greed and arrogance will require special magic to combat. Ford suspends credibility as the sorcerers telepathically summon Dr. Robert Erhard, a full-blooded aborigine who was adopted by a white Australian family as a child, when aboriginal youngsters were forcibly taken from their families. Now a scientist with NASA, Erhard lives in Houston, but he hears the call of his people from 10,000 miles away, and realizes that his blood tribe is in trouble. Ghosts and hallucinations propel him back to Australia to serve as the tribe's most powerful weapon, an invisible ritual assassin. This long spiritual journey is disrupted by tangents that flashback seemingly every detail of Erhard's life, with excursions into the convoluted and melodramatic lives


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