Title: The Soul of Fire
Author: Eliot Patterson
The ISBN number is 978 0312656034
The Publisher is Minotaur Books.
The people of Tibet have long awaited someone who would help protect their human rights from being violated. Self-immolations are at the center of this complex novel as once again author Eliot Pattison brings to light what happens when actions seem to be louder than words, events appear to be what others want some to see and murder is at the center of it all. Eliot Pattison in The Soul of Fire Eliot brings back Shan Tao Yun in this powerful novel as he and his friend Lokesh are taken away by Public Security. But, appearances are deceiving and the reasons behind this incident not quite what he thought. Shan supported the Tibetans and wanted to help protect them but the reason for his temporary release from his position was to replace a deceased member of a special international commission that was created to investigate the Tibetan suicides. But, his investigative methods get him in trouble, are often rebuffed when he delves his predecessor’s death and realizes it was murder. Viewing a monk setting himself of fire was what he thought he saw but in reality it was not. With the commissioners viewing the scene, the self-immolation, little did Shan know at first that the purpose of the Commission was to hide Tibet’s self-immolation protests, which they wanted to appear as acts of crime and terrorism? Shan’s fate and the fate of Lokesh depends on his actions and dealing with a Public Security officer named Sung who runs the Commission as Lokesh is imprisoned in order to keep him in line.
As Shan enters the room with the other commissioners it is apparent that something does not ring true. Investigating the death of his predecessor could prove fatal for him if he does not follow the guidelines set out by the commission. A video feed would enlighten him to the truth behind Xie’s death but would anyone listen? As a former Senior Inspector In Beijing, Public Security Bureau, Shan’s goal was always to find out the truth. Shan realizes from Major Sung that the Public Security Bureau consists of 3 westerners working under the umbrella of the United Nation, four from the motherland and one a reformed criminal that explains his position on the commission to replace Xie. Added in they assign a watcher to him, Tuan, making sure that he follows all protocol. Tuan is part of Religious Affairs. With his friend Lokesh imprisoned and receiving harsh treatment, Shan has not choice but to join the commission, read the reports and hopefully find the truth.
Author Eliot Pattison once again takes readers deep inside the corruption of the Chinese government, the monasteries, the Tibetan culture and the reasons behind the self-immolations. The fate of the people of Tibet often depends on the mood of the Chinese government. The sad part is that they are treated as sub human and their plight at times feels hopeless. But, not everyone is what they seem and those on the commission were placed there for reasons you won’t believe. Tuan explains to Shan that the commission was set up to explain the reasons for the immolations as a “ criminal conspiracy against the state.” But, Shan looks deeper into the root of the problem and what he finds out just from going to the site of the monk’s supposed immolation changes more than just the complexion of the immolation.
Shan’s goal is to find a way to disband that commission, find out why the former commissioner died, what happened to Deng and when checking the site he realizes what everyone thinks happened did not. Making this story come to light I realized that it is based on real life events in the news. December 26, 2014 this story from Dharamshala appeared in the news and I quote:HARAMSHALA: The Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration today organised a prayer service for the Tibetan self-immolators including Tsephe Kyi and Ven. Kelsang Yeshi, who died after setting themselves on fire on 22 and 23 December respectively. Hundreds of local Tibetans, staff and senior officials of the Tibetan administration including members of the Kashag, members of the Tibetan Parliament and Tibetan Justice Commissioners, attended the prayer service. The prayer service was presided over by Ven. Ngawang Tashi, former spiritual teacher of Namgyal monastery. Addressing the gathering, Officiating Sikyong, Kalon Pema Chhinjor, expressed his deep sadness and solidarity with the suffering of the Tibetan people inside Tibet. He said: ” Not one, not two, not even one hundred, but at least 135 Tibetans have set themselves on fire protesting the Chinese government’s repressive policies in Tibet. The Tibetan self-immolators have set themselves on fire not for their personal benefits or to fulfill their individual aspirations. They sacrificed their lives for the greater cause of Tibet and we should respect them.”
In the heart of the story are a dissident named Dawa and two Americans closely tied to her. Just what role she plays in the self-immolations and what she hopes to do to change things will surprise readers as once again author Eliot Pattison delivers an ending so explosive and powerful readers will understand just why this issue is so grave. Deputy Secretary Pao what is his real agenda? What about Sung? When the truth is revealed about Deng you just won’t believe how high up the corruption goes. Soul of Fire: Agni: The God of Fire: “ a very old god, brought up from India. His wisdom burns away all delusion. He guards the hearth in many old homes: Agni: The God of Fire. So many souls burned and turned into Fire.