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The Fifth Sacred Thing (Maya Greenwood, #1)
by Starhawk


Starhawk's "The Fifth Sacred Thing" takes place in a dystopian future where two contrasting societies exist on the ruins of California. The novel follows several protagonists and their interwoven narratives as they navigate this divided world and ultimately fight for their survival.

The Setting:

  • The City of the Angels: Ruled by the oppressive and technocratic Global Dominion, the city represents a world consumed by greed, technology, and ecological devastation. It relies on genetic engineering, surveillance, and a militarized police force to maintain control.
  • The Covenant of the Goddess: Located in what used to be San Francisco, this community lives in harmony with nature, embracing spirituality, art, and sustainable living. They draw upon ancient wisdom and pagan traditions, particularly the power of the Goddess, to heal the land and resist the Dominion's encroachment.

The Protagonists:

  • Maya Greenwood: A young healer and member of the Covenant, chosen as a messenger to attempt peaceful negotiation with the Dominion. Her journey is one of self-discovery, courage, and unwavering faith in the power of love and compassion.
  • Bird Landingham: A former musician disillusioned with the Dominion, he finds solace and purpose within the Covenant. As a skilled healer and fighter, he becomes a protector and guide for Maya.
  • Hope: A genetically engineered woman created by the Dominion but escaping to the Covenant, she represents the potential for change and redemption even within the heart of the oppressive system.
  • Justiniana Cheney: The ruthless and power-hungry leader of the Dominion, she embodies the destructive forces of greed, fear, and control.

The Story:

The novel begins with Maya's diplomatic mission to the City of Angels, which quickly turns into a fight for survival as she witnesses the Dominion's brutality firsthand. Meanwhile, the Covenant faces an impending invasion, forcing them to prepare for a conflict that will determine the fate of their way of life.

As the story unfolds, we see:

  • The stark contrast between the two societies: The Dominion's technological advancement comes at the cost of individual freedom and environmental destruction, while the Covenant struggles with limited resources but thrives on community and spiritual connection.
  • The power of individual action and collective resistance: Maya's courage, Bird's leadership, and the Covenant's unwavering spirit demonstrate the potential for ordinary people to fight against oppression and create a better future.
  • The importance of reclaiming our connection to nature and the divine feminine: The Covenant's reverence for the Earth and the Goddess offers a powerful alternative to the Dominion's exploitative ideology.

The Fifth Sacred Thing:

While the four sacred things are earth, air, fire, and water, the fifth remains unnamed, urging readers to discover it for themselves. It signifies the intangible elements essential for life and resistance: hope, love, community, and the power of the human spirit.

The Ending:

The climax of the novel involves a confrontation between the two societies, leaving a lasting impact on both. While the ending avoids a simplistic resolution, it highlights the importance of hope, resilience, and the enduring power of human connection even in the face of immense challenges.


"The Fifth Sacred Thing" is a complex and thought-provoking novel that explores themes of environmentalism, social justice, spirituality, and the struggle for a better future. It challenges readers to consider the values they hold dear and the world they want to create.