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Tathea
Anne Perry
Ace Books, 522 pages


Dan Craig
Tathea
Anne Perry
Anne Perry lives in Scotland. One series of mysteries featuring William Monk and another about Inspector Pitt have put her at the top of many bestseller lists. Over 10 million of her books have been sold world-wide. She has worked as an airline stewardess and a ship-to-shore bursar, and managed a furniture store in Beverley Hills before becoming a full-time writer.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

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In one night, Ta-Thea, empress of the Shinabari, loses everything... her husband and son are all killed in their beds by their own rebelling people. She only escapes death because one loyal man helps her flee into the desert. With only a handful of jewels taken from her dead husband's body, she journeys to the land where her mother came from. She is welcomed by her long-lost family, but she has no idea what to do with herself... she doesn't understand how a sweet little baby could be so ruthlessly murdered, doesn't know what purpose her own life has. And so she visits a sage, and tells him that she wants to learn the truth of all things.

He tells her to wait out on the beach, and that dawn, a man named Ishrafeli comes to shore, and asks her if she's sure. The journey she is about to take can not be done without a great price, but she, eager to learn the truth, gets into his boat without question. Their journey is a harsh one, and the great adversary follows her tracks, causing pain to come to every city and village she visits. Finally, she meets God, and he lets her take the truth, the Word of God, which is bound and written on a book so beautiful and magical that to touch it is to be warmed, back to His children. While that is the end of her journey with Ishrafeli, it merely the beginning of the story.

Tathea is very deeply rooted in theology, and I see a lot of parallels between the love of the Lord and the Word that Tathea teaches and Christianity... Tathea has visions of the fall of man, of the flood, and she mentions to her fellow believers in the Book that somehow, on another world, the Son of God sacrificed himself once, so that all the people of all worlds would be freed of sin. Even so, anyone may be able to read this book and see the views and beauty of what they believe written inside.

I think that it is hard to write about a fictional story about religion. To take one's beliefs and re-write them for another world, to use the totally different, yet vaguely familiar lands and peoples to tell a parallel allegory of faith, to rephrase a well-known faith such as Christianity into other terms can not be easy. Yet Anne Perry manages... and by doing so she returns to the purity of religion. Her story is about what happens when people go past the meaning of the Word of God, enveloped in the power and beauty of it, or when people soften it so that it is acceptable to everyone. She says that it is not easy, not because God is trying to be cruel, but because everything is a learning process, that to grow and to reach the fullness of what a person can become, that person needs to rise above the evils of this world. Through it all is the Great Adversary, tempting Tathea even as he and his minions try to place stumbling blocks in front of her. She asserts that Asmodeus, the adversary, acts as he does because he rejected his proper place with God, and is jealous and filled with hatred at those who someday may take part in what he can no longer have. She balances a fascinating and clear realization of religion with well balanced scenes of adventure.

I wanted to read Tathea because I've long read and enjoyed Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries, and fellow fans will grin when they find out that Perry manages to write in a tiny court room scene that ends up being fairly significant. I didn't even know what this book was about until I sat down to read it. I've emphasized the religious aspects... but that is not to say it is a dry, philosophical read. Tathea is as courageous as a person can get... whether putting on armour or standing against those who would twist the Word, she glows with strength and persistence. There is also a wonder to her, such as when she faces the Maelstrom, a scene of wildness of strange beauty. It is a very delicate story, written with great love and respect, as much a treatise to the beliefs at the heart of its author as it is a story that challenges us to contemplate our own beliefs, and whether the measure of time has corrupted them, taking us away from what God intended.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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