On the cusp of the medieval and modern worlds, dream-haunted journeyman apothecary Thomas Chinnery sets sail on Bear's Whelp
for Cathay to trade in drugs for his master. But the Whelp's
captain wants easier money from attacking Portuguese ships. Among the usual plunder, they find two prisoners to ransom: a Portuguese man accused of sorcery and a beautiful Indian woman accused of heresy, both being shipped from Goa to Portugal for trial by the Inquisition. In their possession is a potent drug called the Blood of the Goddess, and Thomas determines to find more of it. But others in Goa have heard of the drug as well, and the price of the Blood of the Goddess begins to mount, promising to cost more dearly than Thomas could have imagined.
From Publishers Weekly
Portugal's exotic colony of Goa, on India's western shore, was in the 16th century the farthest-flung outpost of Europe's fiercest and longest-lasting Inquisition. Here, historical fantasist Dalkey (The Nightingale) uses it as backdrop for an exemplary start to a new series. En route to Cathay on an Elizabethan privateer to establish trade in Oriental medicines, apothecary's apprentice Thomas Chinnery, an engaging young Englishman, stumbles upon, but then loses, a sorcerer's vial of powder that can resurrect the dead. In an obsessive quest for this unholy grail, Thomas follows his only link to it, the enigmatic Hindu beauty Aditi, through Goa's teeming multiracial byways, until he is trapped and interrogated under torture by the colony's fearsome Holy Office, whose Inquisitor Major, Domine Rui Sadrinho, is also hellbent on finding the eerie powder. Under investigation himself for practices even the Portuguese Grand Inquisitor finds irregular, Sadrinho needs the drug to extend beyond death the agonies he relishes inflicting in the name of the Church. Dalkey's meticulous research pays off in ravishing atmospherics that highlight the aromas, sights, sounds and traditions that shroud malevolent European church-and-mercantile-state power politics on a mysterious subcontinent. Every bit as absorbing is the author's rich tapestry of characters, from Timoteo, a 13-year-old monk whose irresistible innocence is the Inquisitor Major's most effective torture device, to sinister Father Antonio Gonscao, the Machiavellian special envoy of the Grand Inquisitor. Dalkey serves an exotic repast here, one that, like the exquisite spices of the Indies, tempts the palate with tantalizing hints of wonders yet to come.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.