Circle of Stars
We are immediately thrust into a Calusa village in 1151 A.D. in what is now Florida. The land is productive, but the elements are destructive: hurricanes destroy entire populations. After just such a storm, an old woman finds an abandoned two-year-old girl floating in the reeds and names her Cougar.
Across the sea, in Eire, a young boy is born and is abandoned. A family finds him floating in a coracle and makes him one of their own. It is only later that the boy learns his real name is Madoc and that he is a son of Prince Owain of Gwynedd. When Owain’s son Dayfydd goes on a rampage to destroy the Old Religionists, Madoc and his druid community leave Wales to avoid persecution. They defy death many times crossing the Atlantic. Is it Madoc who first ‘discovers’ the New World?
Waldo moves flawlessly between Cougar’s life and Madoc’s until they intersect when Madoc and his ten ships arrive in the New World. This is a story of extremes and of interstices: the fierceness of the native tribes as well as their healing knowledge; the hatred of those whom Madoc’s men label as “barbarian” and the burgeoning understanding of how the land has shaped them. The debate about who actually ‘discovered’ the Americas still rages on. Waldo provides valuable historical insight into this debate, taking no position on the “Madoc” theory, while permitting us to draw our own conclusions about the blue-eyed, fair-haired “tribe” around Mobile, Alabama in the twelfth century.
A worthwhile read, which, from time to time, has just too much detail, too much cogitating and not enough action.