Five Black Ships : A Novel of the Discoverers
In the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 1519, a jester named Juanillo joins an expedition for the Spice Islands and circles the entire world - "the greatest undertaking ever known to man." Huge sails unfurl in the breeze, church bells fill the air, and five black ships - the Trinidad, the San Antonio, the Concepcion, the Santiago, and the Victoria - embark, their crews infected with dreams: dreams of gold, adventure, the unknown, and of cloves, pepper, saffron, cinnamon, to make them rich and bring them titles and honors. Their leader is cold, stern Captain General don Fernando Magellan. Always in his armor, he paces the deck. In his cabin the crucifix has been replaced by an astrolabe. And he carries with him soil from his native Portugal, to cover him should he die during the voyage.In rich, sensuous, robust prose, with earthy humor and stunning poetry, Napoleon Baccino Ponce de Leon, a new writer from Uruguay, spins a yarn of men and ships. Of fog, jungle mazes, thirst, fear, illness, scorching sun, icy winds, bad omens, mutiny, and madness. A tale of the real men behind history's list of names. Of homesickness, loneliness, and the need for women, who belong to the land, not the sea. And as Juanillo, the fool of the fleet, jokes and sings and plays his thousand tricks to beguile the sailors and don Fernando, his master - making irreverent asides about monarchs and the cruelty of power - he brings to us all the sights and sounds and smells of the voyage. The beating of the waves against the hull, the creaking of the boards, men hanging from the rigging like rag dolls, iron and bronze fittings covered with verdigris, seaweed dark and soft as moss, giant crabs that glint blue like sword blades in moonlight, fish like jewels, and the sad howling of sea lions on deserted coasts of gray rock.A marvelous novel about the first circumnavigation of the globe, about explorers who face suffering and death, and about the life-giving power of the imagination.
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- Hardback | 347 pages
- 158.75 x 241.3 x 38.1mm | 680.39g
- 01 Jun 1994
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P
- United States