Under the Southern Cross – A Tale of the New World book review

Deborah Alcock spins a novel that is quite plausible, of a Spanish monk who somehow winds up in South America to become a somewhat unwilling priest to Indian and Negro slaves along with a few Spanish overseers working in an extremely remote mining town. He finds joy in taking care of a young Indian of royal blood, and the story is woven around their interactions.

The writing style is pedantic, but that can be forgiven when remembering that this book is 120 years old, as long as Noah preached! What cannot be so easily dismissed however, is when the scene cuts to England, and the story of the Spaniard basically becomes the story of the Englishman. Of course there is eventually a connection, but the whole first half of the book’s building on the young, royal, Child of the Sun is mostly wasted as the ending leaves the reader wondering why he was even brought into the story, if he was just to be an afterthought at the end.

This book also has the very unfortunate distinction of being what was probably in the vanguard of the currently wildly popular: “White man bad, native Indians good” narrative. To be more precise, everything regarding the Spanish is looked down on, and the native Indians along with the English are depicted as honest, upright, trustworthy people.

I’ve read somewhere on the net that this is a series with “Walter Grey”, so will look more to see if there is a sequel that does justice to the introduction of the royal Indian – Viracocha.

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