Do you enjoy historical novels? Come and meet "VIRGIN OF THE SUN"
A great historical novel with a big heart and plenty of spirit.
As you know, a few months ago, when I left my day job, I mentioned my intention of offering my services and translating other authors’ work. Jordi Díez, who had already translated one of his books (The Pendulum of God, I included it in one of my posts on new books a while back) to English decided he’d like to have his first book, the wonderful ‘La Virgen del Sol’translated to English too.
As I told Jordi, the experience was always interesting (I got to know much more about the Inca period and civilization than I had ever known), challenging at times, and emotional (it’s not easy to translate when you’re crying with the turmoil and events the characters live through).
I have tried to do the best job I could but all the merit remains with the author. I won’t try and review the finished piece, but as I read and scrutinised in detail the original in Spanish, I thought apart from links and the description, I’d leave you a translation of my thoughts on the Spanish version.
I hope you’ll give it a go.
Virgin of the Sun by Jordi Díez. A great historical novel with a big heart and plenty of spirit.
I must confess I don’t know much (hardly anything) about the historical period shown in the novel Virgin of the Sun. I cannot comment with knowledge how exactly it sticks to the historical facts (that due to the peculiar characteristics of the Inca civilisation are not easy to check as all sources are indirect) although for what I’ve read in the the author’s (that he calls ‘Slight historical licenses’) it seems to provide a fairly close idea to what the era was like. I can say for certain that I am now much better informed that when I began my reading and I’ve been inspired to carry on documenting myself.
Virgin of the Sun is a novel covering a specific period in the history of the Inca Empire, one of its moments of maximum expansion. The author chooses (very successfully) to combine the history of a seemingly nobody (Nuba, a farmer from a tiny village) and his family (especially his daughter, Nemrac) with that of the great of the Empire, Inca Tupanqui Pachacutec and his son Tupac Yupanqui. In fact, the novel takes place in a sort of world of the ‘Upstairs/Downstairs’ where the fates of the most powerful and of those that at first sight have no power at all, intermingle and combine in complex and unexpected ways.
Nuba’s story isn’t simply (even if it is not simple at all) the history of his life and his family, the tragedies that happen to him, his loses, but also of his spiritual awakening. When we reach the end of the book (and I’m not going to tell you about it, don’t worry) and we get to completely understand his experience and the teaching he has assimilated, that we share as we accompany him, we realise that his journey towards a new understanding was matched by the actual journey he undertakes during the novel.
I loved Virgin of the Sun. The author manages to provide the needed information to place his action and the characters, without transforming the book into a tedious historical treatise. Despite the distance, not only historical, but also cultural, that separates us from the action, his writing is such that we get to know and identify with the characters, who are multidimensional, human and interesting. Like in all eras we find envies, characters blinded by desire (be it of power, immortality, love…), victims of situations outside their control, and also enigmatic characters that share their lessons in ways sometimes difficult to understand (wonderful Corioma). I cried with the Nuba’s misfortunes, Nemrac’s vicissitudes, and marched with the troops through the desert. I was horrified by the sacrifices, worried by the future of the ill-fated lovers, I was touched by the vision of Machu Picchu, and fascinated by the project of conquests and the creation of an empire. What else can I tell you? You’ll cry, laugh, learn, and discover new things about the Incas and perhaps about yourselves.
I recommend you this novel for its breath and ambition, for the fascinating plot, the humanity of its characters and because it is a great story. Don’t miss it!
Virgin of the Sun by Jordi Díez (translation: Olga Núñez Miret)
These are turbulent times for the Inca Empire. Emperor Yupanqui Pachacutec has started a territorial expansion to avoid the fulfilment of a prophecy that predicts the future disappearance of his people. This bloody process will result in fights between possible successors, unexpected betrayals and the birth of heroes and martyrs. But above all, it will require the effort of the whole population that will be obliged to work together in the building of the holy city form where the Son of Inti will rule the future of all his territory.
Meanwhile, in a small hamlet of the Empire, a priest has read in the stars that Nemrac, a young girl with eyes like emeralds, is the chosen one to become Daughter of the Sun. Full of emotion for such an honour, the parents of the girl, Nuba and Airún, will set off on a journey of no return towards the Temple of Inticancha, were the girl shall fulfil her destiny. During the hard trip, Nuba will lose his wife and daughter; he’ll discover that reality can be terrible and at the same time he will find the necessary courage to resist fatality and to try to reunite again with Airún and Nemrac. This adventure will require not only all of his effort, rigour and ingenuity, but also enormous spiritual growth that will help him accept and understand the slippery meaning of life.
The Virgin of the Sun is a gripping novel that transports the readers to the Inca lands, and introduces them to the spirituality of this millenarian culture.