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Bone Mountain - Pattison, Eliot

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Published: 31st July 2011
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When disgraced former inspector, Shan Tao Yun joins a group of reverent Tibetans returning a sacred artefact to its home, it seems he has at last found the peace he has struggled for since leaving prison. What starts as a spiritual pilgrimage, however, quickly turns into a desperate flight through the Tibetan wilderness as the outlawed monk who guides them is murdered and Sham discovers that the artefact has recently been stolen from the Chinese army. But why is the army so desperate to find the artefact entrusted to Shan? Why is an aged medicine lama being stalked by government agents? Why has an American woman, a geologist for an oil company, abandoned the project and fled into the mountains? Shan discovers not answers, but only new mysteries as he is drawn to such unexpected places as the raucous headquarters base of the Western oil venture and a monastery that seems more attuned to the teachings of the party than those of Buddha. And the further he travels into the mountains, the more Shan realises that what is at stake is not only justice but the spiritual survival of those who have joined his strange quest. At the heart of Pattison's powerful tale is a story of a brave, oppressed people who have learned to endure by drawing strength from their land and their rich spiritual traditions.

A religious artefact, a stone eye stolen by Chinese soldiers from the statue of a deity, has been recovered by a group of Tibetans who plan to return it to its village. A prophecy says that the eye must be handed over to its rightful owners by a Chinese man. The Tibetans choose Shan, recently released from a prison camp. The pilgrimage takes place against a background of repression as the Chinese authorities attempt to replace centuries of Tibetan philosophy and religion with their political ideology. It becomes clear to Shan that the stone relic may be only a cover for a potentially even more explosive mission, as people around him reveal themselves to be more than they first appeared. In an already harsh natural environment, how long can it be before the might of the Chinese military machine makes life even harder for the pilgrims? It is refreshing to find an adventure story set in Tibet, especially one that is so respectful towards the people and their traditions. Too often, non-Western countries are used in this genre merely as exotic backdrops for foreign spies or the like to trample over, wreaking havoc. Pattison demonstrates a deep understanding of a very spiritual culture, but this is not without its own problems. The adventure/thriller aspects of the novel are often brought to a grinding halt by religious ceremonies or meditation which, while fascinating in their own way, are fatal for the narrative dynamics of the piece. The occasional introduction of new characters and some genuinely suspenseful moments attempt to reanimate interest in the quest but too often the momentum has been lost. Also, given the complicated political situation in Tibet, and the ongoing struggle of its people, the novel's ending may come across as a little too neat. The redemption and/or inner peace apparently achieved by some of the characters suggests that things will improve for Tibet, though the reality would seem quite different to the outside observer. The overall impression gained from Bone Mountain is of an author who is more than capable of writing an absorbing adventure, and is passionate about Tibet and its traditions, but who has not yet found the right balance between these two strands. (Kirkus UK)

ISBN: 9780099422068
ISBN-10: 0099422069
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 640
Published: 1st April 2004
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 10.9 x 18.2  x 4.6
Weight (kg): 0.47
Edition Number: 1