Masters of the Sea
There are some books that are made with the sole purpose of pure entertainment. Some are designed as window dressing for insights into the human condition, while others seem to linger in the realms of paperback pink stickers. There are very few true classics and to find them one usually has to turn towards the past. Jules Vernes left us with many such classics.
George Rios’Masters of the Sea, both a translation and adaptation of Jules Verne’s Mathias Sandorftells the story of the compelling Dr. Mathias Sandorf, a courageous Austrian patriot, who seeks to free his country from Germany and its policy of expansionism. He is betrayed and imprisoned. Yet after an escape, his bad luck holds when he is shipwrecked and marooned for 20 years on an island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite his remote location, Sandorf’s enemies continue to haunt him and make attempts on his life. In a brilliant crossover, the character Nicholas of Cape Matapan, the daring diver featured in Jules Verve’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, is also featured in the book. Sandorf finds allies in a group of Shaolin Chinese, who expand his views on medicine and the benefits of acupuncture. This book moves with a rush of energy, introducing to the reader a wide range of interesting concepts: Hundred foot tidal waves, cargo carrying dolphins, and a sea battle between the might of a manmade naval force against the creatures of the ocean’s depths.
George Rios must be congratulated for he has done something truly ambitious and audacious. Attempting to take something that belonged to Jules Vernes and transforming it into something not only new and updates. It’s a work of literacy with his own imprint. In that simply herculean task, he has been utterly successful. He also seems to go to great pains to not only honor Vernes, but to place a carefully tailored extension to his vast body of work.
The intriguing cover is of Verne’s tomb in Amiens. The now famed marble statue is the actual death mask of the writer, and depicts Verne breaking his own tombstone and emerging from the grave. The tomb, like the writer it houses, has become an important figure in science fiction.
George Rios is an accomplished appointed official with an impressive resume of public service. Yet, he demonstrates another rare gift for adaptation, a skill that is vastly easier than it looks.
The book is a perfect read for anyone interested in science fiction or looking to tackle the more lengthy Jules Vernes books like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Around the World in Eighty Days. If you are a parent looking to expand your child’s love of reading, or simply a fan of Jules Vernes, this is a great addition to your personal library.
George J. Rios