Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Lights of Mahonri Moriancumer, by Phyllis Gunderson

I got a package in the mail in early November, which included the book "The Lights of Mahonri Moriancumer" by Phyllis Gunderson. I whipped through it in mere hours, only to get an e-mail from my mother on the following morning, saying that these books were part of my Christmas box. Whoops. But I certainly don't regret opening my presents early, and especially not this one. I love mysteries and thrillers with non-traditional heroines and a good dose of humour, and this book has it all.

Archaeologist Matt (Mathilda) Howard comes across a Buddhist monk who tells her a fascinating tale about "lights that do not die." As a child in the monastery, he came across a room full of technological wonders, and one of the masters tells him it is an ancient repository, a place where the lights have been shining for thousands of years. The monk wants to find out more about these lights, having heard that such things were mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh (which includes the Babylonian version of Noah's Ark.) Matt is intrigued, even more so when she hears another legend about glowing stones while on a dig in China, and yet another legend about the same things while on a dig in Brazil.

Matt is an engaging character. She's sixty years old, overweight, and has never been married, but has an adopted daughter who, as a teenager, developed a secret language of facial contortions to signal Matt whenever she was unorthodox and embarrassing. It doesn't seem to bother Matt all that much. Neither does her weight, come to think of it. Matt knows her limits, but only regrets her extra pounds when she's in the jungle and can't carry her own pack. She's upbeat and can definitely poke fun at herself. I particularly liked it when she was thinking, "I have a voice inside that tells me when I've been stupid after the fact, but no voice to stop me before the deed is done. Someday I'll complain to my programmer."

This book is light reading in every sense of the word. The book is 176 pages long, including the epilogue, and it's very fast-paced. Even when Matt is simply sitting and thinking, there's no slowing down. The narrative starts with a story about lights, and it ends with another one, with plenty of other "illuminating" encounters in between. I enjoyed the adventures of Indiana Joan, and I'd recommend it for readers who don't want anything overly deep and ponderous to get in the way of sheer fun.


Jennifer Leffler said...

I just finished this book and very much enjoyed it. I agree with Melanie that it is a quick read. It does also make you think "what happened to those stones?"

Heather B. Moore said...

This was a really fun book. I read it quickly too, and really enjoyed the author's unique, and quirky voice. I loved the orginality of it and found myself wondering some of the same questions.

DeweyOlsen said...

I found a Wonderful site on Isaiah!
The site has free lessons on every chapter.
Very well done and in the author’s own voice.
Every Isaiah Chapter has the Analytical Commentary of Isaiah. Enjoy this personable verse-by-verse commentary of Isaiah by well-known Hebrew scholar Avraham Gileadi.

“Dr. Gileadi is the only LDS scholar I know of who is thoroughly competent to teach the words of Isaiah”—Professor Hugh Nibley, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. (1. 6. 2003)

“It is my testimony that this man has been brought forward and trained at this time to help those inside the Church into Isaiah, and those outside the Church, Jew and Gentile, through Isaiah into the Church” —Arthur Henry King, author, former BYU professor and London
Temple President.

“Dr. Gileadi has achieved a major breakthrough in the investigation of a book of such complexity and importance as the Book of Isaiah”—Professor David Noel Freedman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Dr. Gileadi’s work will render obsolete almost all the speculations of Isaiah scholars over the last one hundred years . . . enabling scholarship to proceed along an entirely new line . . . opening new avenues of approach for others to follow”—Professor Roland K. Harrison, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada.

“Only one who is truly at home not only with the Hebrew but with the ancient manner of biblical thought could have produced such an insightful and ground-breaking book”—Professor S. Douglas Waterhouse, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

“Avraham Gileadi’s unsealing of the Book of Isaiah will forever change people’s
understanding of Judeo-Christian religion, lifting it to heights hitherto known only to prophets and saints”—Arie Noot, corporate executive, Edmond, Oklahoma.

“Isaiah Decoded is a huge breakthrough for the seeker of truth—Jew, Christian, Moslem, and agnostic. From an ancient writing, Gileadi has brought to light eternal truths about the nature of God and our relationship to him that have lain buried for centuries in the dust of time”—Guy Wins, fifth-generation Jewish diamond dealer from Antwerp, Belgium.

“Gileadi is the only scholar I know who has been able to express the Jewish expectation of the Messiah in relation to the life and mission of Jesus of Nazareth”—Daniel Rona, Israeli tour guide, Jerusalem, Israel.

“Dr. Gileadi has clearly demonstrated his mastery of the Book of Isaiah and of the scholarly literature dealing with it”—Professor Ronald Youngblood, Bethel Theological Seminary, San Diego, California.

“Avraham Gileadi’s books and tapes take the casual observer of Isaiah’s words and transform him into an enlightened and lifelong student of the Word of God”—Allan and Nancy Pratt, LDS mission president, Toulouse, France.

“Dr. Gileadi has awakened a whole new depth of my understanding of Isaiah’s prophetic message. His books and tapes illuminate the urgent relevance of Isaiah’s writings to our own day”—Becky Douglas, supervisor and sponsor of three orphanages in India, Atlanta, Georgia.

“Dr. Gileadi’s translation [of the Book of Isaiah] is clear and smooth, allowing the reader to appreciate the power and beauty of Isaiah as conveyed in the Hebrew original”—Professor Herbert M. Wolf, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

“Gileadi has uncovered an amazing message written in a divine code by the prophet–poet Isaiah. This will give comfort, hope, and joy to masses of people as they cope with the perplexing events now unfolding before their eyes”—Fenton Tobler, thirty years elementary school principle, Las Vegas, Nevada.