Set upon a nameless island near contemporary Bali, this lovely, enthralling story is told with the deceptive simplicity of a fable, and written in clear, enchanting prose. Madai, a young man born into a fishing family, discovers a moonstone amulet of the bird god Garuda, who introduces him to the spirit world and enable him to become a great healer. But he also finds himself tempted by the evil of the sorceress Rangda, who offers a path of power and riches. In the face of sudden losses and terrible grief, what choice will Madai ultimately make?
The story moves effortlessly between the everyday world of the island, with its occasional Western tourists, and the mystic world of spirits, demons and gods. Especially wonderful are the descriptions of Madai's voyages to the undersea realm of the Nagas, his flight to a moon of myth, and his journey to the mountain at the center of the universe in the company of Hanuman the Monkey-King:
"The army of forest creatures reached the shore of the island, and paused on a narrow beach ringed with fluttering coco-palms. The frothy ocean looked like purple jade in the moonlight. Madai wondered where they would go, for monkeys have no power to fly to other realms. Then the white monkey made a running leap and vaulted into a giant somersault. It was all Madai could do to cling to the coarse hair of his neck as they whizzed through the air. They hurtled across the water--a vast distance, and landed in a desolate range of gleaming iron mountains, where the air was thin and nothing grew in the rusty dust. ...Another leaping somersault, and they landed on the slopes of glowing copper mountains as the monkey grew even bigger. Another leap across endless black waters, and they stood among silver mountains that shone with their own light, for there was no longer any moon or stars in the airless black overhead... Another hurtling somersault, and they landed among bright golden mountains that glimmered like morning sunlight. The great monkey bellowed a great whoop and made another great leap, and landed on the slopes of a mountain so high that its peak could never be seen. The jagged boulders on the hillsides were made of precious stones--turguoise and jade, amethyst, ruby and lapis lazuli--that flashed in the crystalline light of a very young sun. They had reached the mountain in the center of the universe..."
Read this wonderful book! It's worth searching to find -- most highly recommended!