- Publisher: Harpercollins
- Available in: Paperback, Hardcover, Audiobook
- ISBN: 0061000116
- Published: March 1, 1990
Before I composed this novel in 1985-86, I wrote down my artistic ambition for the story:
“Like the legendary wyvern, this novel is envisioned as a living amalgam of opposites: I want it to be an engrossing story of classical proportions and timing, which can be read exclusively for event. And I want to create an object, a verbal talisman of ideas, metaphors, and soul. The storyline is a tribute to life, while the theme persistently expresses the deathward perspective of the soul.
“Jaki trains first as a soul-catcher. He is our guide through the realm of the dead — the past — embodied here as the 17th century. He’s a worthy guide, because the past enwombs us even now as we live out the ideals and prejudices of our history, our living dead.
“Nature loves to hide, teaches Heraclitus, the wyvern of philosophers, who preached the unity of opposites. So, we must enter the darkness of the individual mind, distant from the ghostly glow of history, to find human nature.
“Within the individual — within Jaki — is a darkness of unknowing, the black night of blood, which holds all our screams and instincts. This is darkness not of rest but of intensity. All origins are here.
“From Jabalwan, a ‘wild man of Borneo,’ Jaki becomes familiar with this night, the ancestor of all dreams. Throughout the novel, he never loses touch with this depth, and that keeps him bound to freedom.
“Pym’s single vision is the craftiness of mind, the power of strategy.
“Jaki inherits and extends that vision by combining mind with soul, the root-pull of the earth. He fuses Pym’s reason and Jabalwan’s instinctive consciousness. As a modern man, he tethers his dreams to history, to the impersonal powers of the age, exploring and exploiting the world. And as a soul-catcher, he personalizes the source of being, investing his wakefulness in our everlasting moment of perishing and becoming.”