Arrows

a novel by Luisa Maria Celis

Synopsis

How does a monk raised in a monastery deal with naked women and the atrocities of war? In 1566, Spain expands its dominion over the newly discovered territories not yet widely known as America. The many native nations of this new land pose no threat to Spain's superiority, despite the ferocity of their resistance. Conquistadors rule–natives are slaughtered and enslaved. Only the Church denounces the horror. The missionaries are the natives' only hope.

Friar Salvador Cepeda is a determined, devout and virgin Franciscan monk. He is sent across the ocean to join a historical conquest expedition to the lands of the recalcitrant Carib Indians of the valley of Caracas in the Province of Venezuela, and the cruelty, lust and avarice of the Conquest shake his faith to its foundations. When beautiful native Apacuana enters his life and takes him into the stronghold of the most feared chief, Guacaipuro, Salvador discovers a native society he never imagined, a God he never knew and a passion he cannot condemn. Torn between what he has always believed and his new insight of life Salvador must find a new way to confirm his faith or else become an apostate.

Review

The first novel by Luisa Maria Celis could be included among the best modern historical accounts about white civilization meeting the innocent and paradisiacal culture of Indians in the New World. The foundation of the city of Caracas is the epopee of these men who risked lives and beliefs in search of the Unknown. But it is also the story of these "savages" - so human and close to every other people in the world - consciously facing the loss of their ancient world.

Historical, scientific, and Natural documentation about the facts and epoch are impressive. The reader is transported in a few pages to the times of our ancestors and can feel as if being part of their lives. Descriptions are so vivid that can be recreated like a mental movie. This is one of the best achievements of this novel and what keeps the reader breathless to the end.

Language, Spanish sayings so well translated into English and atmosphere between characters reflected in the book are the real portrait of the true people that even today can be found in Spain and South America.

The always conflictive heritage of European settlements in the New World has its roots in these first exchanges in which the good will of a part of conquerors was overcome by war and economic interests of newborn nations struggling between the feudal customs and the new principles of human rights and modern revolutions.

Arrows leaves an open door to hope and mystery. We wait for a "to be continued".

A must read for everyone curious about history and humankind. Two thumbs up.

– Maria Sempere, astronomer

Excerpt

My body seemed to weigh a thousand pounds, but I finally managed to scramble to my feet and only then felt the gaping cuts and bruises. I realized my right eye was almost swollen shut and had to raise my chin in order to see. The air quickly filled with weeping and wailing, as the people returned and gathered.

The smell of congealing blood hung like a miasma. I knelt beside her in silence. She raised her head slowly becoming aware of my presence; her eyes–puffy with crying–grew wider as she recognized me. Next thing I knew, I was sprawled on the ground and she was thrashing me. Her nails were scratching deep in my neck; she slapped me and spit me on the face, screaming her pain and hate. Kneeling astride me, she pounded my chest until she grew tired and only wept, sobbing so heartbreakingly that I felt my own tears running freely. I let her. She had all the right in the world to hate me. I hated me, too.

"I am astonished by Arrows. Here is a quintessential novel for all three Americas – North, Central and South."
– Alan Twigg

About the Author

Luisa Maria Celis was born in Caracas, Venezuela. She lived in Germany and emigrated from Venezuela to Canada eight years ago where she studied English, Art and History courses at BCOU. Property Manager by profession and autodidact in most things, she started writing some fifteen years ago and has produced a self-published romance Dos Zafiros y un Rubi (2001), in Spanish, and poems, children's stories in both English and Spanish. Arrows is the first of a series of three historical novels that tell the story of an epoch that saw the birth of the Caribbean.

Praise

"Everybody who is interested in the origins of today's South and Central America should read this very well researched novel about the conquest of Venezuela! It is remarkable how the author succeeds in connecting the reader to both the Indian and the Spanish side, and their very different ways of seeing the world. No other historic novel that I have read is as objective and historically accurate and personal at the same time."

– Sabine Reihl

"I am astonished by Arrows. It is a quintessential novel for all the Americas–north, central and south – from the top of Canada to the bottom of Chile."

– Alan Twigg