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Black Sky, White Sky

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Length: 206 pages3 hours

Summary

Chimit Ondar is a musician from the autonomous republic of Tuva, in southern Siberia, not far from the Mongolian border. A childhood friend, now a female shaman, Zoya Sedip has taken him on as an apprentice shaman. And he begins learning how to heal, how to access spiritual energy and how to direct it.

In Boston, USA, graphic artist Ray Farmer is restless. He realises he’s wasted a lot of his life dabbling in spiritual pursuits – without focus. He strikes up an Internet friendship with an ex-Speznaz paratrooper near Lake Baikal, Siberia and decides to visit him, and take time out to find himself. Finally.

He is introduced to another artist, Kolya Poliak, who takes him to Olkhon, the holy island in Lake Baikal, where he starts sketching and making connections with the spirit of the place.

But Kolya runs out of answers to Ray’s questions about spirit and art, and he suggests Ray travels to Tuva where he could ask the shamans to help him on his quest. The shamans have only recently been able to come out and practice in public after decades of being outlawed. Kolya suggests Chimit – a musician he’d met after a concert - can make the introductions, and Ray flies into the capital, Kyzyl.

Through Chimit, Ray is invited to attend a night-time ritual conducted by three shamans at a spring on the banks of the Yenesei river. Almost absent-mindedly, he begins drawing in his sketchbook. When the drumming is over, the senior shaman sees that Ray had been drawing a portrait of the subject of the ritual. And he announces that Ray should be his apprentice.

Ray begins his studies reluctantly, falls in love with Zoya, and gets into a rivalry with another shaman jealous of his attention and fast-track apprenticeship.

And suddenly Ray is plunged into a fast moving turmoil involving trust, belief, betrayal, fear and courage before he completes his task.

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