I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF ENRIQUE DIAZ - A Novel for the Young at Heart by Andrew J. Rodriguez

Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd 515, Parker, CO 80134
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 1598008293, $16.95, 352 pp.

Enrique Diaz, a young fifteenth-century Portuguese Catholic, embarks on an adventure with two friends, one Jewish and the other a Moor, in search of his dream–the Prestor John utopian paradise in the heart of Africa. Quoting from the back cover: . . . "Traveling by ship, cart, and caravan, the three explorers encounter perils galore–pirates and storms at sea, slave traders and murderous thieves on land. They explore the exotic casbahs of Morocco . . . the mysterious ruins of ancient Egypt . . . the hidden civilization of Abyssinia, keepers of the Ark of the Covenant . . . the awe-inspiring holy city of Mecca . . . and return again to Renaissance Europe. En route the young travelers taste the richness of each other’s religions–and win the hearts of their true loves."

Andrew Rodriguez tells us this story is for the "young at heart", which might lead one to think it’s a children’s tale. However, considering the in-depth, historical religious facts woven throughout, I would compare it to The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, with a broader perspective. It is crystal clear that the author has a solid grasp and extensive knowledge of biblical history and a universal message to convey–the heart of this novel. Allow me to share an excerpt from page 190:

"Why are you telling us all this, Your Majesty?" I ask.

"Simply to reward your generosity with a few words of wisdom. You come in pursuit of noble ideals, not in search of riches, domination, or to tarnish the minds of the weak with a new cult.

"When young I was an idealist like you," King Ezana addresses me. "Now I know better. Upon ascending the throne I wanted to create a kingdom akin to the one you are trying to discover. I worked hard, and with the help of the queen, my family, and loyal friends, I built the wealthiest, most powerful nation in East Africa, brought enemies to peaceful terms, changed assassins into human beings, instilled hope to a dominion in despair, and established lasting peace with our neighbors. Yet after all these years, there are still vital issues I have not been able to solve and perhaps never will."

"What are they, Your Majesty?" David asks.

"Man’s stupidity, Mother Nature, and the impossibility of stopping history from repeating itself. All I have gained in forty years of hard work is a moment in time. After I’m gone, a few generations into the future, some foolish moron will take over the nation and drag it into the ground. No country has endured for long without being destroyed from within, and my kingdom is no different. Aksum will become ashes and Abyssinia an impoverished land. We may not see it, but our descendants will.

"This terrible drought and the locust outbreak are the best examples. All my efforts to build a caring and devoted society have been destroyed by the prospects of famine: herders and farmers killing each other for a morsel, people blaming government for their own shortsightedness, greedy opportunists amassing wealth at the expense of others. You see, Enrique, when citizens cannibalize each other encouraged by personal greed, the country loses its own conscience and its future right to exist."

The Incredible Adventure of Enrique Diaz is a well-written, well-edited, fascinating tale with an inspirational message for people of all ages and Andrew Rodriguez’s third novel, following Adios, Havana and The Teleportation of an American Teenager.

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - November 8, 2006


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