Friday, September 14, 2012

Strong Roads: A Spanish Shipwreck Survivor in Ancient Hawaii

Title of the Book: Strong Roads - A Spanish Shipwreck Survivor in Ancient
Available on: Amazon (Print and Kindle), Barnes and Noble (including Nook) and other similar sites
Authors website: G.E.M. Thomas

Overview provided on Barnes & Noble:
In 1565 the Spanish perfected, after 40 years of failure, a circular course between Acapulco Mexico and Manila, in the Philippines. Their ships, laden with silver ingots, were sent from Acapulco every year until the early 1800's. Stories exist that the Hawaiian Islands were known to the Spanish before their 'discovery'. Beyond this, Hawaiian stories accurately tell of people washing ashore their land. This is the fictional story about the connection between ancient Hawaii and the Manila Galleons, told through the eyes of a Spanish soldier.
Overview provided on Amazon:
Alonso Truylos, and his three friends are out to find adventure wherever it exists. As soldiers, these men sail to the New World. As time goes on, events and occurrences reshape their relationships. Alonso Truylos finds himself going deeper into this strange New World. Eventually, joining a galleon in the hopes of attaining riches, only to discover how life really works.

My views:

The author dedicates this book to Google Inc. I presume one can travel far and wide in cyberspace, just as the main character in this book, Alonso Truylos did but on a ship or rather many ships. Further, for Alonso and his four friends the New World were the strange lands that spread before them, waiting to be seen, just as cyberspace is relatively speaking a New World for us.

I am not a fan of history, but love adventure and while this book had all its historical facts intact, it was no boring history book. I could smell the foam of the sea, the sweat of the sailors, the fear of the slaves or the wounded soldiers lying close to death. I could sense the excitement that Alonso felt, each and every time fate or his own calling brought him to a new path, a new sea voyage. He loves his wife Maria, whom he has left behind on shore, yet, he cannot resist the temptations of new adventures and the lure of becoming wealthy.

My favourite character in this book is Pedro, who is what we in the modern world may call a maverick - he does have a tendency to speak his own mind, to behave rationally and get into trouble. He questions things, such as why are slaves ill-treated? He decides to continue with the same ship and crew that Alonso, Philip, and Antonio had first embarked upon. The other three move on.

As the book moves on, even Antonio decides to stay back with a woman he met at a tavern. Then it is just Alonso and Philip who remain to embark upon the open sea on newer adventures. Through his journeys, Alonso continues to evolve as a more mature person. As their journey goes on, Philip unfortunately dies in battle.

Alonso, moves on towards achieving his goal. His goal is best elucidated in this sentence when he is questioned about his objective in life: Yes, I have a goal to make my wife proud. I want to return to her, in two years time, with a fortune. I want to settle down and be happy. I feel I am on the right road to reach that objective."

Just before he is to set sail for Manila, a voyage that promises him tons of riches, he runs into an elderly Oriental woman. She predicts: You will get treasures, but not the treasures you have chosen.

As the title of the book indicates, Alonso is the sole survivor of this voyage. He finds himself on a beautiful island. Here the tribes live for today, they soak in the sun, they surf on the waves, there is sharing and caring and laughter.

The last sentence of the book is poignant. Alonso remarks: I made it to where they share food and ride the waves. I made it to my new home which is Owhyhee (Hawaii).

This book made me think. How many of us are caught up in this corporate rat race. Just like Alonso we want to attain a goal, be it riches or promotions. In our race towards these, we forget to be happy.

It was a very interesting book and I enjoyed reading it.

Interview with the author:

1) Tell us something about your own journey in writing this book?

Strong Roads A Spanish-Shipwreck Survivor in Ancient Hawaii was written over a nine-month period. There was one stage where I was here

Sometimes, I would voluntarily leave my host farms, because of bumping heads with the land owners. One WWOOF farm placed me in a goat pen exposed to the elements. I was there only for three nights. Another farmer asked me to clean her house. I left that night with no where to go. Also, I would find myself doing work exchange in hostels, only to get fired from 100 percent of them. Nonetheless, through the poverty, I kept writing the story on my laptop. I began the sequel and completed Strong Roads Blues and Greens and Blood fifteen-months later. Many people do not believe I wrote a part of the story in a tropical jungle. My laptop would be connected to a solar panel and an inverter. I can explain such behavior simply, I wanted to write something that is my view of the world and I refused to let obstacles stop me. I could go on and on discussing the story behind writing my story, but my work is first.

2) I understand that you now have a full time day job, but do you plan to continue writing?

To stop writing would mean to die, honestly. We each have something in us that is a gem. It is there from our beginnings and moves us forward until our end. I believe these passions, purposes, or skills are to us genetically dealt. My great-grandfather whom I am named after partially, Edward Marshall Scull, was a writer for example.

3) What's your next book project?

The sequel is titled Strong Roads Blues and Greens and Blood. Alonso Truylos finds himself in Sixteenth Century Hawaii. The 'King' of the island grants Alonso aristocratic status. Luxuries are given to him by the highest echelon of the kingdom. When a morganatic relationship develops with a high-class woman, jealousy towards Alonso Truylos ensues. His deep friendships are destroyed and at the same time war breaks out between the royal brothers who control the polity. Alonso Truyos is forced into exile away from society, for his own safety. And it is here, where Alonso Truylos must make a spiritual decision. And that decision is special

Author's Bio: Gordon Edward Marshall Thomas (G.E.M. Thomas) graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Technology in May 2009. Upon receiving his Bachelor's degree in Paralegal studies, he moved to Hawaii. Once in Hawaii, he traveled from place to place for a year while writing this novel. G.E.M. Thomas learnt about the stories of the Spanish in Hawaii, before Captain James Cook's expedition, because of his interest in reading history books. He also developed his writing ability from his work in the paralegal field.

UPDATE: G.E.M. Thomas is seeking crowd funding for his next book, won't you please hop across and see if you can contribute.

Source of the photograph:
Downloaded from Flickr and used as per the terms of the Creative Commons License


Destination Infinity said...

Interesting theme. I always wondered how the people of yesteryears had it in them to go to distant seas using primitive navigation technology, knowing well that their lives are in danger. I admire their courage and spirit. I guess some of them were rewarded with wealth.

I like the message of this book as well.

Destination Infinity

Jules said...

This sounds like my kind of book! I was able to spend a delightful week on Maui and I think I could use my imagination to see the sights. Thanks for another great review.

And thanks for your visits.

Susan Cooper said...

Like you, I am not a fan of the cold hard facts of history but I do love a good book that is historically based. This sounds like a delightful read and one I would greatly enjoy. The characters sound like... well characters... LOL. I will be downloading this book today. :-)

Susan Oakes said...

Looks like an interesting read and adding a story instead of just facts helps bring it to life. I read the Dirty Secret after your review and it was quite a good read.

Catarina said...

Sounds like an interesting plot Lubna. Love historical adventures. Good review that made me interested in the book.

Lubna said...

@Jules: I remember your posts about Maui
@Susan Cooper: Oh they are characters, all right!
@Susan Oakes: Glad you enjoyed Dirty Secret. This is also a good read.
@Catarina: Yes, I love adventure stories, I really loved the ending.

Jeannette Paladino said...

Thanks for your book reviews. I'm not sure it's my cup of tea, but that's why book reviews are so helpful! You know what you're in for if you read the book.

Bethany Lee said...

Lubna, once again it looks like you have reviewed a great book! The story sounds like a good one, and certainly one that I can relate to. It seems I am always searching for my own "treasures" but I know in the end, what I want and need is to "ride the waves" and live in the moment. I am 80% finished with the one book about Mumbai, India--the one you reviewed--Poor Little Rich Slum, and I have enjoyed and am enjoying that one thoroughly. It makes me want to go visit India too, and meet some of these industrious people. There was one other book you reviewed that I wanted to get. I am going to have to go through your posts and find it. And then get that and THIS ONE too!! Thanks for your great reviews.

Lubna said...

@Jeannette:Thanks for visiting, Jeannette. I do tend to look up book reviews, when contemplating buying a book.
@Bethany: You are lucky - you know what you want. Some people are searching for even that. Last year, I was contemplating what shall I do with my life. BTW, have you read Po Bronson's book - What Shall i do with my life - I don't think I've reviewed it here, I read it much much before I began to blog about books, but it is an awesome read, of real stories of real people.