Pict Heyn, whom you'll remember from Monjo's younger verse celebration The Sea Beggar's Son (1975), makes only a belated appearance here. The major protagonists are the semi-annual flotas (fleets) which carried the treasure of the New World back to Spain. Marx, whose research grows out of his interest in recovering sunken treasure, demolishes whatever mystique might still surround the treasure ships. In tales that are variously grim and bizarre, he recalls the lot of the half-starved crews, navigators who were often ridiculed and actually persecuted for the shortcomings of their science, and officials drafted for impossible missions at the whim of the king. By the time the stage is set for the 1628 grudge fight between the Dutchman Heyn and flora commander Benevides, we've followed some 38 years of Spanish naval history. Obviously, this isn't for everyone, but Marx's fascination with the naval battles, derelict commanders, and the vagaries of weather (only sailors, he says, appreciate the entertainment value of talking about the weather) is contagious, and when he does get around to the Heyn-Benevides confrontation he rises to the occasion with some first-rate storytelling.