“Paul Henry, judo expert, Yankee fan, and college dropout is a Catholic fundraiser. He accidentally discovers a manuscript in Barcelona while taking some of his wealthy clients on a tour of the Iberian Peninsula, on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage of discovery. Henry’s wife Lucia, a historian, tells her colleagues about the manuscript, with frightening consequences: Henry’s life is threatened, and his wife is kidnapped and tortured by unknown assailants. Henry finally locates Lucia’s whereabouts and finds that the man behind this evil action is his employer Denis Donahue, a fanatical Catholic - one of the richest and most ambitious men in the country - who has set up, in several states, college towns offering a Catholic way of life. Donahue and his rightwing alliance, intent on bringing back traditional morality to the USA, are engaged in a struggle to restore Catholic values, which, they think, have been destroyed after the Vatican Reforms introduced in the sixties. Donahue also wants Columbus and Isabella – both of whom he regards as perfect Catholics – to be raised to sainthood by the Vatican, and, thinking that the publication of the manuscript would work against his plan, he gives orders to have it seized and destroyed.
The novel reproduces, in its entirety, the discovered manuscript - a tale of three generations of D’avilas, a family of conversos in Spain who were persecuted by the Inquisition and took part in Columbus’s voyages and were eyewitnesses to the enslavement and genocide of the native population.”
Fabulous Voyage Across the Ocean Sea
It was not the Indies before us, we realized, as soon as we saw
the people of the land, who looked naked, uncivilized and
vulnerable—even as Colon persisted in telling the officers and
passengers we were at an island off the mainland of Cathay.
The admiral, the Pinzon brothers, Luis de Torres the translator,
two Royal Officers—Rodrigo de Escovedo and Rodrigo Sanchez—
got on a boat and were rowed to the shore. I was with them, and my
task was to keep an eye out for signs of gold.
What passed next was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard.
The admiral, wearing full dress uniform, stood with the two other
captains—the Pinzon brothers—carrying Spanish flags on either
side of him, and announced he was taking possession of the island,
which he had christened San Salvador, in the name of the king and
the queen of Castile and Aragon. Luis de Torres, our interpreter,
translated in Hebrew and Arabic the words of the admiral for the
benefit of the natives, who stood at a distance from us, and grinned,
not knowing that the ownership of their land had passed from them
They were a handsome race, akin to the people of the Canaries,
their skin color varying from yellowish to red. Both men and
women were tall and healthy-looking, and the most remarkable
thing about them was that, despite the fact that they did not wear a
stitch of clothing on their bodies, they did not appear lascivious or
wanton. Most of them were young, under thirty years of age. Their
hair, short and coarse, was cut and combed forward at the front, but
grew in the back like ponytails, and they painted their bodies with
various colors—black, white, red and ochre. The contrast between
them and us—with our lice-ridden hair, unkempt beards and
unwashed bodies—was so striking that neither party knew what to
make of the other: where they had come from, whether they were
friends or enemies, or whether they were even human or merely a
new type of apes.