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The Healer Hardcover – July 1, 2005

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Blumlein's haunting literary SF novel, Payne, a "Grotesque" (or "Tesque"), can draw disease from patients into his own body, then extrude the sickness as an abstractly shaped "Concretion" from an organ in his side. Few Tesques—whose misshapen appearance from a bump on the skull distinguishes them from normal humans—develop the ability to heal. Taken from his family to train as a physician, Payne imagines the fulfillment to be found in helping others, despite the prejudice most people have against Tesques. Driven by idealism, he attempts to cure a fellow healer of "the Drain," an affliction that's slowly destroying her talent. But Payne reverses the problem, leaving her too sensitive to work. Later, searching for forgiveness, he works to save a small church, only to be rejected by its new congregation. "Sometimes a patient had to be brought to the very brink of death before... he could be healed," Dr. Blumlein (The Movement of Mountains) tells us, and this original, surreal and extraordinary book shows why. Blurbs from Kim Stanley Robinson and Peter Straub, as well as the author's status as a finalist for World Fantasy and Stoker awards, bode well for sales.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This haunting work takes place in a well-imagined world populated by two races: humans and grotesques. Although essentially human, grotesques are looked down upon because of their unsightly cranial ridges and distorted, asymmetrical bodies. A small number of them develop the ability to heal others by pulling infected or diseased material into their own bodies and then expelling it through an orifice in their chests. This places these special grotesques, dubbed healers, in high demand and enslaves them to the needs and whims of humans. Overworked, most healers have a short life span–a small blessing. The novel tracks Payne, starting with his recruitment. He spends his early days working for a mining colony, healing the odd broken limb or respiratory problem. Then his superiors discover that he is one of the most skilled and powerful healers in generations, and he becomes a pawn for both human rulers and grotesques fighting for their independence. Payne rarely makes real decisions for himself. The dark and disturbing ending, however, develops fully out of a difficult choice he does make, delivering a glimmer of hope for him and for the world in which he lives. Fresh and surprising, the conclusion delivers a message that lingers.–Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr; First Edition edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591023149
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591023142
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,686,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. D LaRue on January 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First off, I am somewhat baffled why anyone would have trouble understanding terms and pronouns used in this book. I had no problem whatsoever.That said, the ending was a bit abrupt but I have no strong issues with that, either.This is a wonderful character study of a naive, idealistic young healer (called Grotesques or "Tesques"; not quite "Humans"). As he develops he loses a lot of his naivety but never his idealism . His is and remains throughout the book a likeable, positive character. Yet, he does question the civilization he is part of and tries to make sense of the way things are and in his quiet way tries to make changes.This is one of my favorite types of books...it is one that is meant to be read slowly, savored, and makes me think.Part of the nature of this book seems to be the relationship between the healer and the healed and fascinating issues are raised here, yet not in any heavy handed way. I was very pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan O'Neill on May 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Payne is a Candide-esque innocent in love with the healing craft that makes him both a vital commodity and a third-class citizen in the world of humanity (his asymmetrical skull and the mouth-like orifice in his side identify him as a "tesque," which automatically ranks him second-class). In Healer, he strives to find his very particular place in a divided, troubled world much like our own.

Payne's journey pulled me in, and I found myself emphathizing with his struggles to find freedom within discrimination, charity in religion, relevance in activism, and love amid loneliness, confusion and treachery. Blumlein writes of passion with a restrained hand; his infrequent and subtle point-of-view shifts add a wry clarity to Payne's plight as outcast. At times I found myself shaking my head over the young healer's naivité; at other times I wanted to shake Payne himself. In one particularly memorable scene, when he appears before the woman he loves in new clothes, his hair carefully combed, wearing a bit too much scent, I cringed at his comically sad and all-too-human insecurity. What the author says, through his characters and his setting, is interesting and relevant; the way he says it is masterful. He uses fantasy lightly and well to highlight fundamental moral issues that bedevil our own lives.

The ending, another reviewer noted, was sudden. However, I found it a fitting climax to Payne's quest, beautiful and thought-provoking. I would recommend this book to readers, like me, who like their sci-fi more fi than sci, readers who might prefer the likes of Octavia Butler or Ray Bradbury over Michael Crighton.

Susan O'Neill, author: Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
At eleven years old Payne, a "Grotesque" shortened to "Tesque" is upset when they came for his older brother. Three years later, they come for him because Tesques are special as they have the uncanny ability to absorb disease from an ailing person into their body and then excrete the ailment as a "Concretion" from an organ on their side. For the next five years Payne is trained to become a healer. He feels good about his lot as he wants to help others, but also notices the bias against his race starting with his first assignment with the Pannus Mining Company being at the whimsy of his human overseers.

However, over time, humans and Tesques realize that Payne is unique. Unlike his healing peers who suffer and ultimately die young from "the Drain," he seems unaffected though overworked by even the slavish Tesque standards. He even tried to cure a peer from the Drain; of which there is no return. The pressure on Payne suddenly grows as everyone wants him; used to being told what to do Payne feels lost, but refuses any longer to be a puppet on a string pulled by humans or Tesques demanding freedom.

This science fiction novel is a terse character study of an idealist losing his optimism due to the demands on his skills from his handlers and his race with no one deeming him a person; THE HEALER actually even goes deeper than that with a powerful indictment of society's needs superseding the individual's rights including dying. The ending points that in darkest night, there remains a glimmer of the light of hope. Fans who enjoy a complex societal parable will appreciate this superb thriller starring a wonderful protagonist whose simple caring for the wellbeing of others becomes a burden.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
The Healer, for better or for worse, was a story of healing, at least for most of it. A great majority of the novel is spent illustrating Payne, the main character, as he works as a healer in various situations throughout the course of his life. It is fairly easy to tell that this was written by someone with medical involvement, as Blumlein often expresses his apparent love and fascination for the human body through the mind and words of Payne. However, seeing as this is something of a fantasy novel, the story is rather dry, with nothing of real importance happening until the end of the book. Overall, worth taking a look at if you're interested, but nothing to write home about.
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