December 8th, 2002 Comments Off on Proteus

A friend of mine had recommended me one of Morris West books called The Navigator, which I promptly borrowed from the Public Library. As I’m allowed two books each time I borrow from them, I grabbed another of West’s books, Proteus, to fill the quota. Amusingly, I didn’t open The Navigator, and started reading Proteus instead. It hooked me on the first page and I couldn’t put it down until I was done. It’s an incredible book, packed full with action from the beginning to the end.

The story centers around John Spada, a billionaire, president of a large commercial empire, and leader of a clandestine organization called Proteus, named after a Greek sea god. Proteus was the shepherd and protector of all sea creatures, and received from Poseidon the knowledge of all things past, present and future coupled with the ability to change form at will, a proper symbol of the organization’s modus operandi.

Proteus seeks to counter world’s violence by creating bridges of benevolence against dictatorial and corrupt states. One of its primary aims is to free prisoners around the world and Spada uses his power, knowledge and money to provide Proteus with the resources it needs to operate. He is a compassionate and courageous man, but his whole world collapses when his family becomes victim of the same powers he fights. In his rage and despair, he will have to answer the same questions that every victim of violence faces: Is violence an acceptable answer to violence?

In the Greek mythology, Proteus also represented the primordial matter; the source of good and evil alike. Morris West challenges the reader to judge the protagonist, showing the trajectory of a man whose answer to terror beings with an attempt to build a better world, but ends with a threat against mankind in a conflict between good and evil, compassion and revenge, love and hate.

Although it was written in 1978, Proteus remains current and relevant. The questions it raises are the same questions millions are facing now around the world. The fictitious events it depicts mirror some of the recent events in our history. And, unfortunately, it may become a testament to our inability to answer its ultimate question.

Comments are closed.

What's this?

You are currently reading Proteus at Reflective Surface.