The 1527 Spanish expedition to colonise Florida decimated its original contingent of 300 souls to a mere four, one of whom was a Moroccan slave. Here Estebanico tells the story of his life interwoven with his account of their attempted conquest; of the starvation and drownings, of disease and altercations with indigenous tribes, of challenge after challenge as they struggle from the Gulf Coast to Mexico.
Based on historical events, this is a riveting and unforgettable chronicle of survival and discovery in the New World, narrated by a man usually consigned to a footnote in history.
Grim and turgid in parts but an excellent account of the other side of colonisation. We all loved learning the history and facts of the expedition. Only one (male) member couldn't engage with the book; the rest of us thought he would have loved it!
Most people in our group enjoyed this book.
We found this a very engaging read. The idea of selling oneself as a slave to clear debts was novel. The social changes over the 8 years the survivors spent on their quest produced a significant change in how the Spaniards moved from "Lords" to "team members", and the slave to leadership. The drive to get rich by finding gold seemed to be a hopeless goal; and showing respect to the people they met was a significant factor in their tale.
Thoroughly interesting; absorbing. None of us knew much, if anything, about the Spanish arrival in USA, so we all learned from this book.
Vivid prose. Really good descriptions. Good storytelling about storytelling. Really thoughtful.
Most enjoyed this book although with reservations - we thought a list of characters, and a map of the route taken, would have helped in identifying where the expedition went. We also found the lack of speech marks disconcerting and sometimes hard to follow. All found the incompetence and arrogance of the Spanish leaders to be astonishing.
It was interesting that most of us knew very little about this era, and from that perspective it was worth reading. . We didn't think some of it was very convincing e.g. the treatment of and opportunities offered to a man twice compromised as a black man and a slave seemed unlikely. We found it hard to identify with and feel for most of the characters as many of them were shadowy characters and not well drawn.
Generally enjoyed by most of the group. A fascinating tale especially given it was based on factual events. A compelling read; well written with a good pace. Not for the faint hearted.
A well received book by us. One of those books that almost everyone enjoyed. Some of this is loosely woven around historic events in that some of the characters and events existed but this is not a history book, it is more of an adventure story told in the first person. Enjoyable, engaging and well written. Enjoy!