THE RED LANCES by Arturo Uslar Pietri


Email this review


Written by a distinguished Venezuelan author, diplomat and teacher, this novel deals in poetic terms with Venezuela's War of Independence, circa 1800. It is a time of the break-up of colonial society, represented through Don Fernando, a rich, young, vaguely idealistic plantation owner whose mulatto overseer revolts, rapes Fernando's sister and burns the plantation. Everyone is on illogical sides; nobody's hopes of revenge work out. The whole countryside seethes in a series of savage skirmishes in which towns are demolished, and priests, women, the elderly and the children, are slaughtered. Many of the central characters here are killed... It is a brilliant, succinct and impersonally brutal description of the confusion, horror and chaos of facts and causes that comprise the actuality of a revolution. A fine book, which may be limited in its appeal to the North American reader, though what Pietri says about war has many wider implications.

Publisher: Knopf