"Rowen’s research...is nothing less than breathtaking. The sensitivity and originality of his portrayals are equally impressive, avoiding the trap of simply retelling a familiar tale from an exclusively European perspective or casting the explorers as nothing more than rapacious colonialists....the tale intelligently captures the religious impulse behind Columbus’ adventure…A remarkably new and inventive take on a momentous episode in the 15th century."—Kirkus Reviews
“…spellbinding…Few authors recreate historical worlds and craft characters who feel so real...I particularly enjoyed the way the soul of the Native Americans comes across the narrative. The characters are intriguing, each reflecting a rich culture and a historical background that will excite the reader.”—Readers’ Favorite Five Star Review
“An impressively crafted work of riveting fiction from beginning to end, author Andrew Rowen has firmly grounded his truly exceptional novel in historical fact. The result is nothing less than a literary masterpiece that is as deftly complex as it is consistently entertaining.”—Midwest Book Review
"...a fascinating story of enmeshed lives, and the consequences of new worlds....written with scrupulous detail to historical accuracy..."--William F. Keegan, Curator of Caribbean Archaeology, Florida Museum of Natural History, Talking Taíno, Taíno Indian Myth and Practice
“A must read book for American history, European history, and Native American history! The author, Andrew Rowen has delivered an epic historical account…I can easily see this book becoming required reading in many educational settings....The readers are going to be talking about this book for decades to come!”—Book Review Crew, Authors on the Air
“Amazing! The lives, loves, victories and defeats of the Taíno Indians are just as meticulously and poignantly brought to life as Columbus, his famous voyage and Queen Isabel’s court. A sprawling, globe-trotting, all-consuming tour de force illuminating all sides of the epic cultural clash that created the New World.”--Trey Ellis, Platitudes, Home Repairs, Right Here, Right Now
"The story of Europe’s first encounters with the Americas has become so fraught and tortured that most people now avoid it, which is a shame, because it is so historically important. With Encounters Unforeseen, this fascinating story becomes human and real. Andrew Rowen has produced a remarkable work – beautifully written, well researched and necessary. A landmark!"--Warren Kozak, LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay
"An extraordinary combination of scholarship and imagination, Andrew Rowen’s Encounters Unforeseen creates a balanced 15th century world, where Caribbean natives and European explorers meet in a painfully evolving historical adventure."--Bartle Bull, The White Rhino Hotel, A Cafe on the Nile.
A debut historical novel dramatizes the first contact between Columbus and natives in the Caribbean.In his book, Rowen braids a series of parallel stories about Columbus and his crew's initial encounter with the Taino natives he stumbles on when he finds the Caribbean Islands. While the climax of the tale is the crucial point of discovery in 1492, the author begins the narrative in the middle of the 15th century, detailing Columbus' childhood in Genoa, his early professional pursuits as a merchant and cartographer, and his unrelenting quest to win financial backing for his bold expedition directly across the ocean to the Indies. Rowen also adroitly reconstructs Queen Isabella's tortured ascendancy to the throne and the political intrigue she navigated since she was a teenager. But most impressively, without the benefit of any written Taino history, the author re-creates the lives of the natives long before Columbus arrives, chronicling the paths of three tribal leaders—caciques—and their varying responses to the European visitors they first believe, in their ghostly pallor, look like spirits or corpses. One of them, Guacanagarí, allows Columbus to erect a more permanent structure on his land, a decision the other two chieftains, Caonabó and Guarionex, consider incautious. Their judgment is confirmed once Columbus' crew becomes abusive of the women in the absence of their admiral. In addition, Bakako, a young native boy, is taken captive by Columbus and used as a navigator and interpreter, and his astonished curiosity reflects the general bewilderment of the Taino people. The plot concludes in 1493, in advance of Columbus' return, amid volatilely deteriorating relations between the Taino people and his men. Rowen's research—a combination of scholarly investigation and travel conducted over six years—is nothing less than breathtaking. The sensitivity and originality of his portrayals are equally impressive, avoiding the trap of simply retelling a familiar tale from an exclusively European perspective or casting the explorers as nothing more than rapacious colonialists. Furthermore, the tale intelligently captures the religious impulse behind Columbus' adventure as well as the Spanish Inquisition: the powerful Christian devotion of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.A remarkably new and inventive take on a momentous episode in the 15th century.