by Marbrook, Djelloul
Is a literary project echoing The Odyssey. It reflects years of research into Arab seafaring, mathematics, marine archaeology, alchemy, the Pearl Route, the Mughal Court, the Persian Gulf, and the Omani-Portuguese sea wars for control of the Indian Ocean. Its memorable characters follow their natures rather than the rules of society. Their nobility of soul emerges through trial and fire in improbable circumstances. 1. Guest Boy: Bo Cavalieri, a merchant seaman with a DaVinci-like gift for drawing, witnesses a tragedy in Hamburg involving Bo’s friend and chief mate Gunderson and the pair he sketches every night, a barmaid and her Moroccan “guest boy” lover. A misunderstanding trigger’s the boy’s suicide. Bo quits his ship and takes the boy’s body back to his Moroccan village. Then he signs on as master of a British ship heading for the Omani coast to search for alchemical artifacts. The book ends in Manhattan, where Bo’s world turns strange and he becomes the guest boy. 2. Crowds of One: The dying sultan of Oman leaves Bo two priceless manuscripts, a 14th Century sailing rutter and an illuminated alchemical treatise. The treatise begins to change Bo’s life. In New York he becomes entangled with the beautiful British mathematician Margaret Wadeleigh, daughter of his childhood love, and Margaret’s lover, Adeline Compton, a conservator of ancient musical instruments. He is stalked by agents of two powerful men, vying to steal his manuscripts. His long estrangement from his artist-mother ends when she calls for his help in her last days. The book is set in Manhattan and Woodstock, New York. 3. The Gold Factory: Chechen arms dealer Commodus da Cunha kidnaps Bo to extort his manuscripts. Adeline launches a rescue mission, recruiting Margaret, retired IRA bomber Joe Minihan, and giant PLO assassin Si Larbi. The alchemy among captor, captive and rescuers blurs their differences. The sultan’s bequest to the American seaman he called Sindbad changes them all. Set in Manhattan, Morocco and Portugal.