The Fifth Sacred Thing
The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk. New York: Bantam, 1993. 486 pages.
The Fifth Sacred Thing is a futuristic novel set in the year 2048. It is a speculation of what can be. It is a
story of resistance, of witches vs. other. And so much more. From the first sentence on the first page to the last,
the reader is taken on a captivating journal of interweaving plots and characters and elements. A rather skillful
weave it is.
San Francisco is the place held by witches, where the four elements are free and not to owned or sold. Polylove
is present as well as memories of Vietnam, the hippies, and Che. The dead interact with the living and all religious
expression is embraced. [Atheists however are distinctly lacking]. Angel City in stark contrast has been taken over
by the Stewards who are anything but. There is a mean prison there, toxic waste dumps, and camps where women breed
warriors for war.
The main characters are likeable and hold evidence of strengths and weaknesses. There is a healer-doctor Madrone who
sets out on a journey that she does not wish, the entrapped Bird, madrina Maya, many lovers and others. Those who
are worthy of hatred are painted with a human stroke also. The battle between having a place with non-violent
resisters and listening to orders barked out by the ones who have stolen the names of their underlings is a very
real one. "I feel like a number. But I'm not a number," sums up the internal struggle of the soldiers of the
The Fifth Sacred Thing is recommended for those who have not lost their patience with feminism of an idealistic
flavor and who enjoy light science fiction. Those who prefer hard science fiction would do better with other books
and other authors.