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Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone
by Dora Machado

Published: 2008-05
Paperback : 453 pages
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Between truth and deception, between justice and abuse, a stonewiser stands alone with the stones. Or so begins the stonewiser's oath. But what happens when a rebellious stonewiser discovers that lies have tainted the stone tales? In a world devastated by the rot's widespread destruction, only the ...
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Between truth and deception, between justice and abuse, a stonewiser stands alone with the stones. Or so begins the stonewiser's oath. But what happens when a rebellious stonewiser discovers that lies have tainted the stone tales? In a world devastated by the rot's widespread destruction, only the tales preserved in the stones can uphold the truth and defend the Goodlands. In this world, stone truth is valued above anyone's word, and stonewisers are the only ones capable of retrieving the tales from the stones, the only link between past and present, order and chaos. Sariah is the most gifted stonewiser of her generation, but her talent does not atone for her shortcomings. A survivor of the Guild's brutal training, she is curious, willful, and disobedient. Yet not even Sariah is prepared for what she finds when she steals into the Guild's Sacred Vaults: A mayhem of lies and intrigues that shatters her world. Hunted, persecuted, and betrayed, Sariah must make an unlikely alliance with Kael, a cynical rebel leader pledged to a mysterious quest of his own. The fate of their dying world depends on their courage to overcome centuries of hatred and distrust. But not even the grueling journey has prepared them for what they're about to discover. Because nothing is really as it seems, and the truth is more intricate and devastating than they ever suspected . . . Vibrant with detail, alive with compelling characters, and packed with intriguing action and unforeseen twists, Stonewiser is an unforgettable adventure, an exquisite, heartwarming tale from a mesmerizing storyteller.

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STONEWISER SARIAH KNEW she was dying - murdered, she surmised, and not by the stones she clutched in her hands as was often the fate of unwary stonewisers. Kneeling on the Sacred Vault's cold ground, the stones were scalding to her palms. Her hands throbbed, her muscles cramped, her shoulders strained as if she balanced the full weight of Meliah's colossal boulders on the crumbling structure of her neck. The forbidden twin stones she was trying to wise offered an intriguing tale, but Sariah wouldn't live long enough to understand it unless she acted quickly. Who in the Guild had wanted Ashmid gone and Sariah dead, and for what dark purpose? ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1.In Stonewiser's fantasy world, the stones are the last reliable repository for memories, information and truth. Do you find any parallels and/or contradictions between the concept of the stones and the means and ways that we use today to disperse, gather and understand information?

2. What do you think would happen to our sense of self, to our culture, to our institutions, if we didn't have any reliable ways to trace our past? What would happen to our society if our history was erased, if we had to recreate an existential framework for ourselves, relying on fragments of uncorroborated knowledge?

3. When the story begins, Sariah is a slave of her own beliefs, a lease of the Guild. What are the key elements that drive Sariah away from slavery? What are the elements that help her to define her personal concept of freedom?

4. Sariah has often been described as the ultimate reluctant heroine. In Dora Machado's own words, the heroine of Stonewiser "is a flawed person, a bundle of contradictions, a tough cookie with lots of baggage, a troubled soul." With all those tags associated with her character, what is it that makes Sariah such a compelling heroine?

5. The New Blood's oath "From the rot we came and to the stone we shall return by way of hallowed land," is the central belief of a marginalized, persecuted and maligned people. How does the oath shape the thoughts and actions of the rebel leader Kael? How does the oath influence his decisions regarding Sariah? Do you think that the oath limits or frees his people to overcome poverty and oppression?

6. What does gThe Roth represent? Symbolically it could be interpreted as greed, power, materialism, or money, but it also could be interpreted literally. Do you believe that the human race is neglectful of our environment and ecological system? How much of gThe Roth is literal? How much of it is interpretive?

7.Being a stonewiser implies some very specific biological characteristics, dangerous and highly specialized training, a very complex set of skills and practices, and enormous responsibility. Do you see the original need for a Stonewisers' Guild? Where did the Guild go wrong? Can you think of some ways in which the Guild could transform from an instrument of oppression into an instrument of enlightenment?

8. Dora Machado grew up in a third world country. Which themes, subjects, scenes and/or characters do you think might best reflect her experiences and heritage?

If you'd like to know how Dora Machado has answered these and other questions, go to www.merpress.com and click on Interviews. Or if you'd like to ask Dora herself, send her an email at [email protected] .

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Dear Reader,

The idea of a stonewiser came to me in a dream. I saw a woman sitting cross-legged on the ground of a dark cellar, holding a stone in each hand, caught in a dangerous struggle. The stones she clutched with such passion revealed her extraordinary nature. She was a stonewiser, able to retrieve the knowledge preserved in the stones, the only remaining way to uphold the truth and ensure justice in a world devastated by the rot's destruction.

With this powerful image in mind, I set out to work on the story's premise. I thought about our world today, the media, the news, the internet; about how difficult it is to ascertain the truth despite having unprecedented access to huge amounts of information. I wondered: What would happen to us, to our society, to our culture, if the truths we held as the basis for our identity were fundamentally flawed?

Sariah, my novel's reluctant heroine, faces the terrible choice: She can continue to live her life as the slave of a false truth, or she can renounce everything she knows and make a forbidden alliance with a mysterious rebel-her bitterest enemy-to discover the truth she craves.

My dream became the award winning Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, a smart fantasy adventure with a heart, packed with intriguing action, unforeseen twists and unforgettable characters. It is a story about a flawed woman with an extraordinary talent and grit to match, who must overcome her own beliefs and prejudices to bring redemption to her world and truth to herself. Readers tell me how much the story thrilled them, shocked them, touched them. And if after escaping into my world you find yourself questioning your world and your truths, well, remember this: Fantasy is often rooted in reality and reality is often a product of our own fantasies.

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone"by Tim M. (see profile) 11/09/09

This book is a MUST for anyone who reads SFF. It is NOT a Young Adult book and its sophistication may turn off some readers, especially those who don't normally read the genre. The characters and plot... (read more)

  "Stonewiser"by Janan F. (see profile) 11/01/09

I love this concept, but the language is unfortunate. The terminology reminds me of some of the '50's science fiction films. I think Dora Machado has a gift, but that that gift would be be... (read more)

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