The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth
Farnsworth mixes historical fiction, supernatural, political intrigue, and medical thriller genres together to come up with The Eternal World, a fantastic novel about greed, power, and the struggle to live just a little longer.
Publisher’s Description: Five hundred years ago, a group of Spanish conquistadors searching for gold, led by a young and brilliant commander named Simon De Oliveras, land in the New World. What they find in the sunny and humid swamps of this uncharted land is a treasure far more valuable: the Fountain of Youth. The Spaniards slaughter the Utiza, the Native American tribe who guard the precious waters that will keep the conquistadors young for centuries. But one escapes: Shako, the chief’s fierce and beautiful daughter who swears to avenge her people–a blood promise that spans more than five centuries. . .
When the source of the fountain is destroyed in our own time, the loss threatens Simon and his men, and the powerful shadowy empire of wealth and influence they have built. For help, they turn to science, to David Robinton, a scientific prodigy who believes he is on the verge of the greatest medical breakthrough of all time. But as the centuries-old war between Shako and Simon reaches its final stages, David makes a horrifying discovery about his clients and the mysterious and exotic woman he loves. Now, the scientist must decide: is he a pawn in game of hunter and predator . . . or will he be its only winner?
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Spanish conquistadors and the fountain of youth — a popular tale, but not one I’ve seen fictionalized often, which made The Eternal World a refreshing read for me. Switching from modern times to the early 1500’s, the novel tells of the rise and fall of Simon De Oliveras and his fellow soldiers who discovered the “fountain of youth” while searching for gold in the Americas.
Simon, like most villains, does not see himself as the villain, and Farnsworth’s writing shows readers both sides of him. Simon truly believes he can make the world a better place using the Water. He believes he and his fellows share this benevolent mission. But drinking the Water and living so long has corrupted them all, and not everyone is on his side as he believes. Simon’s story is a good example of the corruptive effect of absolute power.
One of the most telling moments in the book comes when Aznar, a former Spanish priest turned hedonist and serial-killer, tells Simon how being kept alive by the Water ruined his faith in God.
“You took me to some pagan altar, and you sacrificed me. Humiliated me. Beat me. I thought I would die there. And I comforted myself with this thought: At last my pain is over. At last I will know God. I knew, Simon. I knew I was going to see our Father in Heaven. And then you gave me the Water. … I thought God would provide me life everlasting. Instead, it was you.”
Even the altruistic David, though he remains a hero in the story, is shown as being susceptible to the power. It is the nature of human beings, Farnsworth seems to be saying in this novel, that we are so easily corruptible. Perhaps we are only good people because we don’t have access to those things that corrupt us?
There is a little bit of everything in this book — action/adventure, espionage, science and medicine, political intrigue, history, the supernatural, and even a bit of romance. I’ve been waiting a few years for Farnsworth’s next book and The Eternal World certainly doesn’t disappoint.
If you like this book…