This book has won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, so when I saw a copy, I snapped it up. I was mildly disappointed, although it's very readable.
In a world devastated by nuclear holocaust, leaving vast blackened deserts, what's left of humanity has returned to a pastoral way of life. It is the duty of the travelling healers, who are held in very high regard, to give medical help where required. This book is the story of one such healer, who uses snakes to bring healing (an interesting concept).
Two of the snakes she uses are from earth, but the other one is extraterrestrial - the dreamsnake. These dreamsnakes are precious and rare. No-one knows how they reproduce. Many healers have begged the inhabitants of Center City for more dreamsnakes - always without success. The book turns into an adventure story, with our central character undertaking a dangerous journey to Center City to ask for help. But how can she succeed, when all others have failed?
It is certainly a bold and vivid book, but I personally didn't think it was quite as good as it's been made out to be. Nonetheless it's well worth reading if you like SF or just a good adventure tale.