The history of pre-Hispanic South America is prolific in narratives of violence perpetuated, in battle and commerce, to an indigenous population. Mostly for the sake of feeding a perverse avarice and yearning for indulgence that was the fashion for Old World society at the time, this conquering force overcame great odds and difficulties to satisfy their greed for material treasure. They consequently took out their frustration and discomfort on these communities. Their occupation exhibited the brutality of a society desperate to pay their debts and build their riches with whatever could be extracted from other people, foreign lands.
Disregarded by history are the stories of the daily life of these indigenous people as they built true humane societies and developed myths to satisfy their curiosities of the workings of their natural world.
What has been lost to history is the spark of wonder when the European encountered the native for the first time, in submission rather than domination. Zoratama is that glimpse, told in the passion of a conquistador for a native beauty. The story is a tragedy of the forbidden, unprecedented and one that passion, eroticism, could not resolve. Love defeated by one of the many sins which motivated Europe to its genocidal tendencies. Ultimately it is not devotion to another being which drove the history, but rather devotion to the unknown.
Jaime Bedoya Martinez’s Zoratama constructs the structure for modern Hispanic society through the unrealistic passion of consorts of divergent worlds. His belief that the legacy of the Muisca has been abandoned is true, for beyond anthropological and archeological studies explaining in detail the life, religion, society of these people, little credit is given to their contributions to current culture.
And the assimilation, whether military or societal, of these cultures is anything but polite; the Spaniards greedy and brutal, the Muisca resolute and tribal.
Mr. Bedoya beautifully builds an alternate storyline which ultimately argues that commitment to passion and transcendence has no boundaries. Zoratama, the Muisca princess, and Lázaro Fonte, the Spanish conquistador, construct a love story for the ages, replete with spiritual integration and an offspring of a new race.
Ultimately, the writer in his true fashion destroys this love, immersed in the tragic myths of both races, in an absurd annihilation of people, family, emotion and sentiment because the ironic metaphor that evolves is the incarnation of a new race, culture and historical footprint.
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