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The Fifth Sacred Thing
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Showing 1-10 of 12 reviews(3 star). See all 227 reviews
on October 24, 2013
good description of a magical world view and how those beliefs and practices might work in a real community. i'm only halfway through. there are disturbing scenes of violence. they are important to the plot. there are themes of bisexuality and polyamory among the magic community.it's not graphic but it's part of who they are.
1 helpful vote
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on September 4, 2013
I believe that those who wish to read this book need to know that, to me, this is a future fantasy with overtones of the 60's generation.

I find this hard to relate to, as I am not of that generation. However it is a dream of a better world and I intend to finish the book. Why not read something new?
1 helpful vote
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on July 3, 2013
It took a long time to get into this book for me. It's a little far out there and some things could have been left out and the book still would have made sense, I think. From the middle on it was hard to put the book down wondering how in the world everything was going to transform. Good read if you're into the supernatural.
1 helpful vote
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on January 2, 2016
I tried to give this book a chance but I didn't make it past page 50. I felt like there was too much raunchy unnecessary sex in this book. I don't feel like I am a close minded individual but I wasn't planning on reading some homosexual erotic fantasy. Maybe I will give it another try some day. The erotic parts felt forced and quite frankly unnecessary. It was very cringe worthy. I'm sure there's a great message at the end, but I'm not going to dig through homoerotic pornography to find it.
1 helpful vote
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on April 25, 2014
This book was recommended so I looked for it and read it to see what I could find. In my opinion I am sorry to report, The "fifth sacred thing" is missing from its pages.
1 helpful vote
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on February 28, 2014
It was a fun book to read although strange at times. Well written, but really long with no big ending. Made me think about life in the future and what is important.
1 helpful vote
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on April 21, 2014
Although the book is well-written. grammatically speaking, I found the characters somewhat unappealing and stress ful in the approach they take to their quest. It drags, but what I remember with complete disgust is the portion that has one man throw a helpless cat into an electric fence to disguise their entrance into a house. Is this the kind of tactic we can expect from the people depicted in the book as the 'good guys'? It sickened me and while I am sure that some will say 'oh, details, sacrifices have to be made,etc. . .', one of the things that attracted me to Wicca, witchcraft, whatever you call it, was the respect for animals. I gave my copy away.
1 helpful vote
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on June 11, 2001
I think Starhawk has considerable potential as a writer of fiction, and would love to read, perhaps, a collection of short stories or anthology. "The Fifth Sacred Thing" holds together pretty well as a first novel, but it is an epic story and it meanders frequently. As a "lapsed Pagan" myself I found her Utopic vision of San Francisco entertaining and her Pagan characters reasonably well-drawn. She certainly is more comfortable there, as the other locations and characters are rather sketchy. Witches = good, Stewards = bad.
The Melissa (a bee-witching demi-goddess character) was pushing it a bit far up the curve, even given the basic premise that magic can work in this world - she just seemed over the top to me. My main problem, though, was the violence/non-violence issue. The Council pragmatically decides that if the City is to survive they must use non-violent resistence, peppered with some nifty mind-games tricks. Fair enough, and believable. Yet effectively, they're also manipulating the poor Steward grunts into fighting for them - violence at one remove is still violence.
It's a good read, anyway.
14 helpful votes
15 helpful votes
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on December 10, 2009
Unlike some other authors who add novel-writing to a successful nonfiction career, Starhawk has mastered (if I can use that word of a feminist) the basics of plotting, character creation, descriptions of action sequences that allow the reader to follow what is happening and (most important in science fiction and fantasy) world building. It was a pretty good read, and I say that as a 40-plus-year fan of adventure fiction.

That said, it has some flaws. The most glaring is the general who acts like a big city police chief dealing with demonstrators (a type Starhawk, as a longtime activist, is no doubt extremely familiar with) rather than what he is supposed to be, namely the head of a conquering army who is in no way bound to refrain from abusing or even wiping out the people conquered. More broadly, the central conflict of the story is a resource war between two nations that have different religions, which means it's automatically going to be cast as a religious war, but on the Christian side there are no signs of actual spirituality; the Christian characters are secular in all but name. (This is an ongoing problem in popular fiction by non-Christian authors; they can't seem to understand real Christian faith well enough to depict it accurately.) Finally, I was disappointed that the conflict was decided, in the end, by the Pagan side getting a little supernatural help. Yeah, the deus ex machina ending has a long and honorable history, going back to Ancient Greece, but I still don't like it.
3 helpful votes
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on September 28, 1999
I admit, I wouldn't have picked up the book if I'd realised Starhawk was the name of the author, not part of the title. But I like Zimmer Bradley, and the blurb was good.
I enjoyed reading The Fifth Sacred Thing. It was a well-thought out, realized world - though only San Francisco was truly vivid. Maya, Madrone and Bird are great characters and none of the spiritual/magical explanations were added on; everything was tied into the plot.
However, based on all these reviews, I'd say read The Fifth Sacred Thing if you do believe in wicca, in ley lines and crystals. If you don't, like me, you'll find a well written, enjoyable but in the end - too much Californian sunshine solving every problem, peace and love win, the big bad Corporation and Army defeated. The book is a little too much political fantasy without enough reality. The Wild Boar people are happy to stay away from the water and food-rich City? The Corporation only drugs their pen-raised soldiers with immune-enhancers not serious drugs? And the only bad apple in the entire place seems to be Cress rabbitting on.
Read it, but go for harder stuff if you're cynical like me. If you're not, well, you're much happier than me, and you'll enjoy the book a lot.
20 helpful votes
21 helpful votes
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