Ships Afire

J. J. Armas Marcelo, Author Avon Books $7.95 (310p) ISBN 978-0-380-89741-4
Spanish buccaneer Juan Rejon, setting sail in the early 16th century, discovers Salbago, a fictitious New World Latin American island. Rejon and his shifty crew settle Salbago, nearly eradicating the island's only nativespacks of large, eerie, green dogsand erecting Royal, an alluring, seedy Bagdad of a city, sprawling over the harbor. The pirate instinct continues in the next generation with Rejon's only child, Alvaro, the product of Juan's union with the ravishing Arab prostitute Zulima. Alvaro leaves Salbago in search of new lands to plunder and becomes a wealthy slaver in Santo Domingo. But he eventually returns to Salbago, half-crazed from years of searching the South American jungle for the mythical city of El Dorado and pitifully addicted to coca leaves. First published in Spain, Armas Marcelo's wild epic explores the fine line between reality and fantasy, the point at which obsessive greed and lust twist into madness. This exaggerated adventure tale also embodies a biting criticism of conquest, epitomized by the 16th century Spanish Empire and its destructive craze for power. These conquistadores, Rejon father and son, end their days as lunatics, pathetically trapped between past glories and their miserable present and future, as the Dutch invade and pillage Salbago. The author's luscious style matches the exotic content: every page erupts with rococo, erotic language, with lengthy, convoluted, enticing constructions, all admirably translated by Arvio. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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