Raven Discussion Guide
 

Stephanie S. Tolan
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Flight of the Raven

Flight of the Raven

by Stephanie S. Tolan

SUMMARY

Flight of the Raven, the second volume of a trilogy that began with Welcome to the Ark (1996), is the story of Elijah Raymond, one of four remarkably gifted children gathered together in an experimental group home they have dubbed "the Ark." Sheltered there from a world of ever-growing violence, the children discovered that they were sharing dreams, not only with each other, but with equally unusual children around the world, all of whom believed they had a mission. In the dreams Elijah was always a Raven, connected to, but able to fly far above the others. When the Ark program was discontinued, the mission seemed lost and Elijah ran away.

In this book Elijah is found by a band of environmental terrorists and taken to their mountain hideout, where an actual raven appears and stays always nearby. Living also in the terrorist's compound are Amber and Kenny, the leader's children, who believe, as their father has taught them, that the need for radical change justifies the deaths of innocent people -- deaths they call "necessary losses."

Against his will, Elijah finds himself mentally connected to Amber, and realizes that she, too, is one of what he calls the "Ark kids." Unable to get away from his captors, Elijah discovers that he can shift into "dreamtime," joining his consciousness with that of creatures who must survive in an unforgiving natural world. Gradually, Elijah learns to survive himself and begins to understand that his mission has not been lost. To follow it, he must find a way to take a stand against the ultimate threat posed by the terrorists and help to rescue Amber not only from her father, but from herself.

DISCUSSION TOPICS

These topics are designed not for standard literary analysis, but to encourage thinking and the sharing of ideas, feelings and beliefs that may be stirred by reading the book. There are no "right" answers to the questions posed.

TERRORISM

  • Charles Landis has taught his children that violence is necessary to make change in a world ruled by governments which can use force against their own citizens. Do you think violence is ever justifiable as a way to achieve positive change?

  • Originally, Charles Landis used nonviolent methods to try to protect the environment. He changed his tactics only after his wife and brother were shot in a confrontation with the police. Does this make the government in any way responsible for his use of violence?

  • Do you see any connection between terrorist tactics and warfare? What do you see as the major differences? What goals do you think each can achieve?  

  • Are weapons of biological warfare or terrorism worse than conventional weapons?  

  • Do you think real terrorists, like the fictional Charles Landis, believe that their actions are justified and that their goals are positive?  

  • Charles Landis has taught his children that the loss of individual lives ("necessary losses") is acceptable in service to a larger moral cause.  How do you think this theory fits with his reaction to the deaths of his wife and brother?

  MIND POWER

  • Many indigenous cultures around the world share a belief that certain individuals (who may be called shamans or medicine people) can interact with animal spirits and travel in realities other than our standard three dimensional reality. Do you think that might be possible, or would you agree with those people who call such beliefs superstition?  

  • Some contemporary scientists believe that consciousness exists throughout the universe, that everything shares some aspect of a kind of universal mind. Do you think we might ever have a scientific explanation for the sorts of telepathic connections the Ark children experience?  

  • Have you ever had experiences that don't fit well into our normal beliefs about the limitations of our minds? Have you ever had a dream that later proved true? If so, did your dream predict something important, or something minor?

 Novels can help us think about our lives and our world in new ways. –ST

HUMAN CONNECTION

Elijah comes to feel a strong connection to Amber and Cassie and some members of the Free Mountain Militia. Do you think it's necessary for people to feel themselves a part of a family or group or community?

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

Flight of the Raven, like Welcome to the Ark, is a work of fiction. All of the characters are invented. However, they are based on real people, and many of the unusual things they can do with their minds are things that real people report being able to do.  After Welcome to the Ark was published, I heard from a group of young people who said they had been dreaming the same dreams as Elijah, Miranda, Doug, Taryn and the other children they connected with around the globe.

Elijah's "Dreamtime" is based on reports many people have made on their experiences of sharing consciousness with animals and on the shapeshifting methods of indigenous people and those in our culture who study their abilities and philosophies. In fiction we are not limited to what has been scientifically verified. Imagination can take us into realms well beyond science. It's important to remember that we have yet to understand imagination itself.

Copyright 2001, Stephanie S. Tolan

This guide may be copied for educational purposes only.


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Last modified: March 05, 2007