cover image The Lord of the Last Days: Visions of the Year 1000

The Lord of the Last Days: Visions of the Year 1000

Homero Aridjis. William Morrow & Company, $23 (259pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14342-8

Mexican diplomat, poet and novelist Aridjis (1492) evokes medieval Spain in this intriguing tale of apocalyptic obsession and war between Christians and Muslims. The narrator is Alfonso de Leon, ``scribe and illuminator of the Apocalypse,'' a monk whose monastery faces imminent destruction by Muslim raiders led by Abd Allah, aka the Black Rider, Alfonso's twin brother. Swelled with the notion of himself as messiah, Alfonso both awaits and fears the inevitable confrontation with his brother, which may decide the religious and political fate of Spain. Meanwhile, Alfonso must fend off Isidoro, a false messiah who pronounces the names of his disciples backwards, and at the same time must confront his own, less than monastic desire for the daughter of a strange local woman. While Aridjis shows a poet's ear for language, his narrative demands patience; individual chapters (or ``Visions,'' as they're called) are strangely disconnected, leaving the plot somewhat adrift. Readers who persevere will discover a richly recreated historical world enveloped in dogma, sustained by faith and inhabited by people who view a historical conflict as the final battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness. (Oct.)