When Columbus "discovered" what is today Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, the islands consisted of a peaceful people called the Taino. Except for an occasional Caribe attack, they lived in utter peace and solitude. They believed that their god, Yocahu, would reward them for being peaceful people and as a result, they never defended themselves nor fought amongst each other. Unfortunately, this peaceful existance meant they were ill equipment and ill prepared to defend themselves from the Spanish Europeans and their swords.
This is the story of a people before and after Columbus. What led to their downfall? This novel explores all the factors involved, tells how the Spanish raped the Taino women, enslaved anyone over fourteen years of age, cut off people's hands, and wiped out an entire race. The tragedy of the Tainos is that they thought Columbus was Yocahu and treated him as such. Their later disappointment ran deep.
The main characters are Neef, a crippled Taino boy that overcomes many obstacles with his own people and with the white men, Princess Anacoana, Columbus (called Colon in the book), Mateo the cabin boy, Basamanaco the trader (and adoptive father to Neef), and one lone warrior that sacrifices himself in hopes of saving his people.
Beautiful story and very well told. The only reason I fail to give it four stars is the prose is just awful at times. Thee, thy, and thou just do not fit the island scene. The Spanish come across as hicks with their own speech full of th's and n's.
Favorite passage: "Neef thought in his heart: I was never a crippled boy, nor will I ever be one. It's these people who are crippled, for they can only see my outward appearance, but not how well I can think, or what I can do."
This book was formerly called Sons of Yocahu and I've been informed it has went through more editing as well had a cover makeover.