The Dance of the Drum

The Dance of the Drum

The novel is set in the Maya Highlands of Guatemala, in the year 1546. At the start of the Verapaz project, a peaceful conversion of the Maya people directed by the Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas.

This story covers thirteen days. Just like any other two weeks, if it was for the Dominican friar Sebastián de Guareña. For the Maya certainly not! These were the final days of their calendar; a time of restlessness and restrained tension. Will Lord Mountain-Valley, the old earth god, grant them a new cycle? Not so long ago the situation was clear: the propitiation of the gods lay in the hands of the Maya diviner-priests who guided the ritual dances. Now there were new rulers in the land, and they did not appreciate these works of the devil.

Friar Sebastián is therefore surprised to find that his superiors are making an exception for the performance of the Dance of the Drum. Why encouraging idolatry in his town Rabinal? And just at a moment, when the ambassador of Emperor Charles V is expected to visit. Cecilia – daughter of a conquistador and a Maya princess – seems to know more, but her jade-coloured eyes only confuse friar Sebastián.

Time runs toward its end, and leaves its victims. Lord Mountain-Valley is unpredictable. His discontent provokes misfortune. Only one rhythm can control his impetuosity; the sound of rubber on wood, the dull beat and the blast of the trumpet. The compelling reality of the Dance of the Drum. 

“Against the background of the turbulent society of the recently conquered land of the Maya, Guatemala, colonial conquerors, the Catholic Church and the Maya aristocracy battle for power in 1546. Through his studies as an anthropologist, the author is an expert. He knows how to use this knowledge in the creation of an intricate plot, in which Maya nobles, newly enriched conquerors and zealous friars and church leaders, challenge each other in this recently conquered Guatemala. It leads to a series of political murders, with ultimately a surprising climax. An exciting, well-written novel and thus a very successful debut. A historical thriller; in terms of atmosphere and plot, comparable with a bestseller like The name of the Rose, but its decor is more exotic.”


– Drs. H.H. Puite