This time I am very proud to review a novel about pirates written by Massimo Rozzoni, a talented Italian novelist who is preparing to be the new heir of Ken Follett. The book title is The Seed of Rosewood.
That is the English translation of Il Seme del Palissandro, a volume of 500 pages set in Scotland, the Caribbeans and London, in 1715. The main character is Patrick Douglas, a 15 year old who has still to discover all of the dark contradictions of life.
In the century of Patrick, seas were haunted by pirate ships. These cruel sailors devoted their life to looting, rapes and kidnappings to sell their prisoners as slaves. It is just during a looting that Patrick is kidnapped and brought aboard of a pirate vessel which has to reach the legendary Carribbean Sea.
I read the English edition of the novel and felt many counteracting emotions: sorrow, joy, rage, hope. I never read an historical fiction book about pirates, I watched movies about this topic and read only historical novels set in different centuries.
However, even though I don’t have any recent comparison with another historical novel about the deeds of corsairs, I can absolutely say that this literary work has an important historical relevance and deserves to be read by book lovers.
The first important novelty of the book is the main character, Patrick. He is not the usual captain of pirates or a female corsair, but a teen boy who, during his imprisonment, will be forced to witness a long chain of crimes, injustice and depravity.
Everything revolves around greed and money. No booty lasts much in the hands of pirates. They are gambling addicted and squander every piece of gold coin by playing dice. Through this literary work, you’ll get transported into a controversial historical time, nowadays too much overlooked by readers and publishers.
Dates and historical context are as perfectly described as characters and dialogues. The English translation is outstanding and gives you a vivid idea about what happened in the century of this story.
With The Seed of Rosewood, readers will discover the awful consequences of Spanish domination, but also sorrowful details of the slave trade among Africa, America and Europe. Episodes of egoism and solidarity alternate in the various chapters; some of them take place on the deck of the pirate ship.
There, reader witnesses a long parade of human beings: the prisoner who accepts to kill on behalf of the captain to save himself from enslavement, the former friar who looks for her lost mother…
But it is in the middle of the story, that we can see the clear clash among: slavery and freedom, injustice and righteousness, mercy and cruelty, forgiveness and punishment.
The place of greed and vicious is Port Royal, in the Caribbean Sea, where slave trade took place. And through the dialogues, you realize that everything has always been for sale. “Buy this man. It is strong and suitable for you! Who offers the most?” As if a man was merchandise.
It is really impressive read the words used by slave smugglers to sell other people like them, chained and without rights! But in this appalling reality, a light of hope breaks in…!
There are many twists in this historical novel.
While I read the various chapters of the novel, I felt the sound of the sea and the singing of seagulls. I saw the empty gaze of chained men and women and the courage of young Patrick, forced to undertake a traumatic journey that will separate him from his childhood forever.
Yes, we all are slaves, but we can set us free. This is the great message of the novel. If you want, if you repent, there is always a room for redemption and forgiveness.
The Seed of Rosewood is an interesting historical book to not forget what happened in the century of pirates, where Spanish dominators were involved in the cruelest slavery of conquered civilizations.
What was the difference between this historical age and Nazism? I don’t know the answer and not even if it is the best novel about pirates, but it is a good historical fiction work, with many hints to discover another important age of the human history.