Synopses & Reviews
The Shogun of Japan is cracking down on the samurai, and is obsessed with cruelty to dogs (he is known to history as the Dog Shogun). A very young Peter the Great is just about to launch his coup d'etat and transform Russia.
In France, the Sun King rules over a court of unprecedented splendour and ceremonial formality. A Spanish viceroy is leaving Mexico for home, lauded in a baroque poem by Sor Juana, the greatest female poet of Latin America, a nun who may be the lover of the viceroy's wife.
In the Sonora desert of North America, a Jesuit priest and his tribe of Pima Indian converts are cultivating the soil, and are about to discover that the land across the bay is not an island but a part of the same continent. It will be called California. In Manila, meanwhile, there is a pogrom against the non-Christian Chinese. The Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica dies. He is Henry Morgan, the most notorious pirate of the age.
William Dampier, an Englishman sailing with buccaneers, lands on the desert coast of north-west Australia and writes down the first Western impressions of the strange stone-age people who gather around him on the shore.
In the little-known kingdom of Siam, a Greek adventurer from Cephalonia has become the chief adviser to the king. The French are anxious to move in, and Louis XIV sends a huge glittering entourage to the other side of the world. The intrigue ends in blood and confusion.
And in far-off England, a Dutch king lands in Dorset to begin the Glorious Revolution and fashion the state under which we still live.
John E. Wills has written an epic and fascinating book. He immerses us in a world of wooden ships, of trade in precious metals and spices, of diverse religions and cultures. He is as sure a guide to Africa and the Netherlands as he is to Western science and Buddhist mythology.