The creater of Captain Hornblower has turned to history for his central character this time, and written a memorable story of the tragic last expedition of Columbus to the new world, which -- to the bitter end -- he claimed to be the continent of Asia. A lawyer, sent by the Crown to investigate conditions, and if possible even less fitted than his fellow shipmates for the experience, is the character through whom the adventures are revealed. Columbus emerges as a strange, inept genius, a brilliant navigator who spiked his own guns by his fanatical determination to interpret all he saw by what he hoped to find. Jealousies, treachery, unpreparedness, superstition and ignorance wreck his colonization plans. This is a scholarly book, more along the lines of his earlier work than the riproaring adventures of Captain Hornblower. Good reading, but gauged to a more thoughtful level of interest, rather than those seeking straight adventure.