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The Navigator    by Eoin McNamee order for
by Eoin McNamee
Order:  USA  Can
Wendy Lamb Books, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Eoin McNamee's The Navigator is the first in a trilogy, starring Owen, 'Chosen to save the world'. Since the death of his father, Mom has been in a deep depression. Owen's place for solace and solitude is the Den, dug into a hillside and equipped with a sleeping bag, an old sofa, candles and objects scrounged from Mr. Johnston's salvage yard. Nearby is the Workhouse, which could tell a story of yesteryear when it was a thriving business. Townsfolk are reluctant to talk about its history, but speak of ghosts in the 'forbidding building of cut stone perched on an outcrop of rock that towered above the river'. Something about the bleak structure makes Owen shiver.

As Owen heads out one morning, he senses 'something different about the day. It seemed dark although there wasn't much cloud. It seemed cold although the sun shone. And the alder trees along the river stirred and shivered although the wind did not seem to blow.' Owen approaches a cloaked figure in a faded uniform, staring across the river. When the man turns to Owen, he says, 'The Harsh! ... It has begun ... we have a lot to do'. Identifying himself as the Watcher, he guides Owen to the old Workhouse. Inside, people move about in a flurry of activity. Summoned to guide the perplexed Owen, the Watcher's daughter Cati explains the threat from across the river, and speaks of her people, the Resisters awakening from the Sleep.

The threat is the Harsh, who have launched 'the Puissance ... the Great Machine in the north which turns again and time is flowing backward'. The Harsh have been stopped before, but today they are stronger and the Resisters are weaker. Across the river the familiar roads and houses of Owen's community are gone. He sees trenches along the riverbank and white-garbed, tall figures. Cati leads Owen to a meeting of the Convoke, where Samual speaks against accepting Owen, claiming he's a spy for the Harsh, while Pieta defends him. Owen is taken to Dr. Diamond for validation that he is the one selected for the mission. The scientist lives in the Nab, and is the keeper of the Skyward, a device for seeing across time.

Many elements and players are central to the presentation of The Navigator. Wesley is overseer of the Raggies, children abandoned by the world, dwelling by the harbor on the sea, along with Silkie who mends Boat, an elongated transport with oars that barely touch the water. Pieta is head of the military; she not only carries a magno-powered whip which shoots pulses of blue-light energy, but also a great ache in her heart; while the compassionate Contessa is in charge of food. They all combine in a suspenseful race to the homestead of the Harsh in the north, the Great Machine, and the Puissance, to deliver the Mortmain. The Planemen, followers of the Harsh, maneuver their sky-aircraft with long, delicate, slow-beating wings, following and attacking the Resisters who travel in Boat.

Eoin McNamee's first award-winning novel for adults, Resurrection Man (1994), progressed from book to movie (1998), for which the author wrote the script. Among McNamee's other works are The Last of Deeds; Lo in History; The Blue Tango; The Ultras, and 12.23. Paris. 31st August 1997, based on the final days of Diana, Princess of Wales (2007). The author lives in County Sligo, Ireland, and was awarded the Macauley Fellowship for Irish Literature in 1990.

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