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Land Without Evil
Matthew J. Pallamary
Charles Publishing, 356 pages

Land Without Evil
Matthew J. Pallamary
Matthew J. Pallamary spent 6 years writing Land Without Evil. He travelled to the rain forest, studied with shamans and did his research to capture the spirit of an indigenous people on a quest to maintain their heritage. He has been a teacher for the last 9 years at the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference and at other conferences throughout the Southwestern United States.

Matthew J. Pallamary Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

One glance at the flyleaf is enough to cue you in that this is not your standard fantasy novel. In fact, it might be better to think of it in the magic realism corner for now. You're going to be shown spirits, gods, and, well, astral projection, but it won't be quite like anything of that nature that you've seen before. Chances are, the people you discover in this book are a civilization you never knew existed and will probably never meet.

Land Without Evil is the story of South America's Guarani Indians -- their traditions, their fight to live, and their enemies who were determined to assimilate the tribes.

In the middle of the 18th century, every native people's worst nightmare arrived in the midst of the Guarani: missionaries. There is no one more dangerous than people who think that god or gods are on their side, and that god wants them to convince everyone of their version of the truth. Think: Uganda millennium cult, Scientology's questionable "suicides," Heaven's Gates' pathetic final images. There is a difference though: native people didn't go to the missionaries for enlightenment; it was pressed upon them.

Entering the Catholic faith meant forsaking the Guarani's birthright of traditions and beliefs. Often, this illumination came at the cost of their own lives, as foreign foods and unfamiliar sicknesses cut through their numbers. But, there were a few who tried to lead the people back to their origins.

Avá-Tapé is the shaman who has been chosen to save his people. The church chose him, too, and doesn't plan to let possible converts vanish into the forest. Land Without Evil is the story of Avá-Tapé's struggle to free his tribe from the threat of the white men and lead them to the joy of the Land Without Evil. It is a re-awakening and a stunning realization.

Pallamary's exhaustive research in this subject comes through in the wealth of detail about the indigenous tribes. It is a rare look into the past of a people who are quickly disappearing. True, there are moments when the "noble savage" stereotype comes dangerously close. And the speech has that stilted structure of Native Americans in films and on TV. The pace may be slower than you might wish. But these are small discomforts to suffer in order to learn about these people and their ways.

Throughout the novel, Pallamary draws parallels between the Guarani's beliefs and other religions around the world. There are many points that appear to be universal, but whether those similarities spring from any greater truths or only from the similar needs and questions within the human animal is up to you.

So, put aside for a while the sword-and-sorcery with its fantastical covers and read something much closer to home. Discover buried and forgotten moments of history that are part of who and where we all are now. If we are the sum of our parts, shouldn't we know more about each of those pieces?

Copyright © 2000 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, will be published in early 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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