Reviews for

Columbus and Caonabó: 1493–1498 Retold

Columbus and Caonabó is a feat of meticulous research, beautiful writing, and great imagination. Much of the early history of the Caribbean is irretrievably lost, but Andrew Rowen has given us a detailed and exciting glimpse.”
—Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, Conquering the Pacific

Columbus and Caonabó succeeds on two levels, as all the best historical fiction must do. With meticulous research and deft phrasing, Andrew Rowen brings the 1490s to life. At the same time, he tells a great story, carrying us on a narrative journey as skillfully as he takes us back to a different age.”
Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest, When Montezuma Met Cortés


“Historical novelist Rowen captivates in his powerful standalone sequel to Encounters Unforeseen: 1492 Retold, following Columbus’s ongoing subjugation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well as the desperate attempts of Caonabó, a storied Taíno cacique, to defend his chiefdom and protect his people… Rowen’s writing brims with striking historical detail, and he offers welcome maps and illustrations of the main characters and events, but as a storyteller he never loses sight of the heart of this conflict: the devastation wrought by Columbus and Spain’s power-hungry monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand… Rowen weaves bravery and treachery and pits truth against myth in this sweeping tour de force…A meticulously researched and intensely tragic novel of Columbus’s offensive against the Taíno people.” —booklife Read Full Review


“As a leader in the Taíno community, I am often skeptical of non-Caribbean people writing about our history, culture, and customs. Many who embark on this endeavor have only skimmed through the upper layers of our written story. On the other hand, Andy Rowen takes us on a deep journey that humanizes our ancestors and treats us as equals rather than passive victims. The dialogue between the Caciques and Spaniards is intelligent, meaningful, and extremely believable. A few times I had to remind myself that I was reading a novel and not a historical document. His writing invokes vivid images of events that happened long ago, credibly weaving fiction and fact! I recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject!” Kacike Jorge Baracutei Estevez, Higuayagua Taíno of the Caribbean


“…captures the vast political intrigue…Action scenes abound, including battles between the Taíno and European forces, as do lovingly written romantic scenes…Casual readers will  simply enjoy the rich characters, thrilling plot, and exploration of a little-known culture.” —Blue Ink Review Read Full Review


“As an archaeologist and historian of the Contact period in the Caribbean, I found the historical novel Columbus and Caonabó fascinating. Rowen’s research into the historical record is impressively thorough and informed by practical on-site investigation. He carefully depicts what happened or may have happened (experts disagree) and—with the speculative latitude of a novel—fictionalizes the perceptions, beliefs, and decisions of the European and Taíno protagonists, affording them commensurate sophistication. While unprovable, the fictionalizations are one of the book’s great strengths, stepping beyond worn stereotypes to humanize the protagonists as individuals. Rowen presents their essential humanity within their cultural settings—their loves of families and friends, different beliefs in supernatural beings, and different perceptions of right and wrong, as well as the ethnocentric judgments they made of each other. Taíno cultural behavior, ideas, and beliefs were as sophisticated as those of the Europeans they met —as Rowen vividly portrays—and the book adds to our understanding of the Taínos and Contact history.”
L. Antonio Curet, Caribbean archaeologist; museum curator. Co-ed., Islands at the Crossroads: Migration, Seafaring, and Interaction in the Caribbean

…guile is shown to trump innocence…to read this book is to be forced to confront the very worst of arrogant, hubristic conquest—and the sobering fact that the conquerors achieved their grim goalsAn often absorbing story and an impressive work of scholarship.
—Kirkus Reviews Read Full Review

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