Cover image for Secret sacrament
Secret sacrament
Jordan, Sherryl.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 2000.

Physical Description:
338 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
A disturbing incident when he is only seven years old foreshadows the role Gabriel will play in the relations between his Navorran people and the Shinali, a role which is solidified when he becomes an Elected One and trains to be a Healer.
Reading Level:
820 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.6 17.0 46854.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.1 23 Quiz: 24354 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-12. Set in an ancient civilization, this New Zealand import is a riveting exploration into the impact childhood guilt has upon decisions made throughout life. Gabriel is only seven when he witnesses the brutal rape and slow death of a Shinali slave. From this point forward, he vows to become a healer, and he's eventually apprenticed to the men of the Citadel, healer-priests who work "in the regions of the human mind and spirit, as well as in surgery and medicine." Always aware of his early inability to help a woman in agony, his life is a restless struggle against pain, suffering, and evil, until he falls in love with Ashila, a beautiful Shinali woman who welcomes him into her family and into her life. His love for Ashila, coupled with his need to atone for his youthful failing, force Gabriel into exile from his beloved Citadel. Now begins fulfillment of the Time of the Eagle prophecy, when slave nation and conquering nation become equals. Secret Sacrament is a surprising book: violent, yet ultimately peaceful; bitter and despairing, yet ultimately hopeful. Although it appears reflective of the Christian tradition, with allusions to the coming savior and the sacrifice of a life to save a people, it is not overtly religious. Rather, it is a powerful story of the influence of good over evil, love over hate, and the potential impact of one person on a nation's history. --Frances Bradburn

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.