Book Review: St. Elmo's Fire, A Magellan Novel

St. Elmo’s Fire
St. Elmo’s Fire.

With St. Elmo’s Fire, Oliver Theakston found a delightful way to explore the first circumnavigation. The novel is based on the actual history and historical characters, but gives us something history cannot: a taste of the sort of personality conflicts that must have existed on the three-year voyage.

The story shows the expedition through the eyes of Juan de Morales, a surgeon on board Magellan’s flagship, the Trinidad. Like many of the men who went to sea on these expeditions, de Morales is seeking an escape, in his case from a life he has come to hate. For de Morales, the voyage is a chance to search for new meaning in life, but he finds more than he bargained for.

Importantly, this book is well researched on everything from the clothes crew wore to the surgical instruments de Morales carried with him. And the book paints a clear picture of how unpleasant those voyages were for their crews. Magellan’s ships carried between forty and fifty men who constantly competed for space with cargo and provisions including livestock. I highly recommend this book for fans of historical fiction.

St. Elmo’s Fire is Oliver Theakston's debut novel. It is available in print and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

By John Sailors

Enrique of Malacca's Voyage

(C) 2023 by John Sailors. All rights reserved.