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Secret Sacrament
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Dreams.
Vows.
Prophecies.
Destiny.

The Navoran Empire is wealthy, powerful - -and slowly falling under the sway of the Empress's corrupt and sinister adviser.

The Shinali nation has been reduced to a single clan on a small strip of land. They cling to their traditional ways, awaiting a hero out of legend.

All Gabriel Eshban Vala has ever wanted is to be a healer. It has been this way since his seventh year, when he witnessed a brutal act he was helpless to stop. But he never forgot the eyes of the dying Shinali woman who asked him for help. From that day forward, Gabriel withstood the demands of his father, his family, and even his Empress in order to pursue his dreams of healing the sick. So what could an ancient prophecy foretelling his powerful nation's downfall have to do with him?

When a chance meeting on a lonely plain brings him into the land of the Shinali, Gabriel develops a deep respect for these people and grows more and more disenchanted with his place among the powerful rulers of the Navoran Empire. Now, caught between loyalty to his Navoran roots and love for the Shinali people, Gabriel must make a single choice. The fate of two nations hangs in the balance. And so does Gabriel's own life.

Sherryl Jordan has written an extraordinary and deeply moving tale of fate, hope, loyalty -- and the ability of one man to change destiny.

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Gr 7 Up-A young and talented healer tries to save two civilizations in this absorbing fantasy. As Gabriel learns the healing arts from wise masters, he also becomes inescapably involved in the treacherous politics of the Navoran Empire. The Empress trusts the young man's ability to interpret her dreams, while her jealous advisor Jaganath tries to discredit, corrupt, and even murder him. The villain also means to destroy the neighboring Shinali people, most of whose land the imperialistic Navorans captured years ago. Gabriel, however, develops strong ties to the native people. He respects their rights generally, then becomes personally involved as he falls in love with Ashila, a young Shinali woman. As Jaganath's hold over the Empress increases, Gabriel tries to help the Shinali find a peaceful solution. He cannot prevent the bloodshed, but eventually the young man paves the way for a more positive future by making a tragic personal sacrifice. Jordan deftly conveys the historical and political background of her world, showing the contrast between the Shinali and Navoran peoples, and the appeal that both societies hold in the mind of the protagonist. Gabriel is an engaging hero, determined to act nobly, and yet caught up in events that often make his decisions agonizingly difficult. Though at first he seems almost too saintly, his struggles to balance personal principles with the cruelty of the real world bring out his human frailties and raise powerful questions about fate, duty, and courage.-Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

The citizens of Navora have pushed the native Shinali off their land, but when a prophecy foretells that a Navoran man will help the Shinali reclaim what was theirs, the empire will stop at nothing to thwart his destiny. PW said the novel has "enough drama, twists and turns to keep readers glued to their seats." Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

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