"Flight of the Goose: a Story of the Far North" is award-winning fiction set in the Alaskan Arctic.
An Inupiaq woman trying to follow "the outlawed path of shamanism" comes into conflict with a scientist studying the effects of oil spills on salt marshes.
Thomas, who grew up in the Arctic, tells the story from both the aspiring shaman's and scientist's points of view.
"It was a time when much was hidden, before outsiders came on bended knee to learn from the elders. Outsiders came, but it was not to learn from us; it was to change us. There was a war and a university, an oil company and a small village, all run by men. There was a young man who hunted geese to feed his family and another who studied geese to save them. And there was a young woman who flew into the world of spirits to save herself..."
So relates Kayuqtuq Ugungoraseok, "the red fox". An orphan traumatized by her past, she seeks respect in her traditional Inupiat village through the outlawed path of shamanism. Her plan leads to tragedy when she interferes with scientist Leif Trygvesen, who has come to research the effects of oil spills on salt marshes - and evade the draft.
Told from both Kayuqtuq's and Leif's perspectives, "Flight of the Goose" is a tale of cultural conflict, spiritual awakening, redemption and love in a time when things were, to use the phrase of an old arctic shaman, "no longer familiar".
This is a classic journey of the hero, a coming-of-age tale woven with ecology, adventure and myth. Danger and violence erupt from villains and the wilderness itself. The reader becomes immersed in the lives of indigenous and outside characters in the remote village: witches, missionaries, sport hunters, grandmothers, bush pilots, oil men, evil spirits, bears and geese. Under it all is a universal story of passion - between a man and a woman, community, and love for the Earth. Quotes from shamans and seers from many ancient cultures enrich the text.