River of Darkness

River of Darkness

Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon

Book - 2011
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From the acclaimed author of Conquistador comes this thrilling account of one of history's greatest adventures of discovery. With cinematic immediacy and meticulous attention to historical detail, here is the true story of a legendary sixteenth-century explorer and his death-defying navigation of the Amazon--river of darkness, pathway to gold.

In 1541, the brutal conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro and his well-born lieutenant Francisco Orellana set off from Quito in search of La Canela, South America's rumored Land of Cinnamon, and the fabled El Dorado, "the golden man." Driving an enormous retinue of mercenaries, enslaved natives, horses, hunting dogs, and other animals across the Andes, they watched their proud expedition begin to disintegrate even before they descended into the nightmarish jungle, following the course of a powerful river. Soon hopelessly lost in the swampy labyrinth, their numbers diminishing daily through disease, starvation, and Indian attacks, Pizarro and Orellana made a fateful decision to separate. While Pizarro eventually returned home barefoot and in rags, Orellana and fifty-seven men, in a few fragile craft, continued downriver into the unknown reaches of the mighty Amazon, serenaded by native war drums and the eerie cries of exotic predators. Theirs would be the greater glory.
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Interweaving eyewitness accounts of the quest with newly uncovered details, Buddy Levy reconstructs the seminal journey that has electrified adventurers ever since, as Orellana became the first European to navigate and explore the entire length of the world's largest river. Levy gives a long-overdue account of the native populations--some peaceful and welcoming, offering sustenance and life-saving guidance, others ferociously hostile, subjecting the invaders to gauntlets of unremitting attack and intimations of terrifying rituals. And here is the Amazon itself, a powerful presence whose every twist and turn held the promise of new wonders both natural and man-made, as well as the ever-present risk of death--a river that would hold Orellana in its irresistible embrace to the end of his life.

Overflowing with violence and beauty, nobility and tragedy, River of Darkness is both riveting history and a breathtaking adventure that will sweep readers along on an epic voyage unlike any other.
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, c2011.
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780553807509
0553807501
Characteristics: xvii, 324 p. : ill., maps.

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m
mdroo
Nov 07, 2016

I studied costellano in school, and learned who where the conquistedors of spain, this book is gross...but I couldn't stop reading.... when-- then-- they could go into the amazon, mind blind, is something to know....when never heard from again, because they had to conquer...they conquered their own death...

b
BennettHayes
Jun 22, 2015

An incredible journey of discovery, adventure, loss, suffering, courage, ingenuity, hardships, overcoming of obstacles, sickness, battles with local tribes of the conquistador Francisco Orellana and somewhat of Franciso Pizzaro and they sent forth to cross the Amazon eastward bound from Ecuador for the first time searching a rumored city of gold, El Dorado. Orellana wanted to find his wealth and fortune much like Cortes and Pizzaro before him. Orellana made it across the Amazon and returned to Spain but he had found no gold. He returned to the Amazon from the Atlantic this time and was unsuccessful at finding gold. He eventually perished there. I couldn't put this book down.

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uncommonreader
Oct 26, 2014

This history tells the story of the remarkable journey of Orellana from Quito to the Atlantic in 1541 to 1542 down the Amazon. It is a remarkable voyage of exploration but it is told from the perspective of the colonizer with nothing really insightful about the indigenous peoples (who were mostly robbed or killed), their sophisticated cultures, nor nature.

r
rsalvino1
Apr 13, 2012

This book is such a fascinating read on many levels. It's amazing the personal hardships that the protagonists endured as they traveled through this most amazing land.

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