Magellan: Over the Edge of the World

Magellan Over the Edge of the World.jpg

Book Information
Rating: Dependable
Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Laurence Bergreen
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Year: 2017
ISBN: 9781626721203
Pages: 211

Failure after failure drives Ferdinand Magellan to forsake his native Portugal and fly under Spanish colors in the name of fame, fortune, and exploration. Political intrigue sows doubts of the feasibility of his quest, but eventually, Magellan becomes commander of an armada aiming to find a faster route to the Spice Islands. On the sea, Magellan finds no respite. Mired in the center of Portugal-Spanish political conflict, Magellan maneuvers through ocean storms while diplomatic tempests never wane. One by one, the Armada de Molucca sheds men and ships as a result of storms, scurvy, mutinies, and conflicts with natives until Magellan himself is slaughtered on the sands of an island in the name of Christianity. Only one of the five ships limp back to Spain, making the crew, not Magellan, the first to circumvent the globe.

The lack of citations visible within the text clearly communicates that this tome is directed to educate younger generations. Bergreen tucks the sources in the back of the volume, and the number and quality of the sources are acceptable. Source placement coupled with the particularly dramatic tone of the book solidly place it in a middle-grade reading level. However, the greatest weakness of this work is that even a middle grade reader may be frustrated and overstimulated by the dramatic tone of Bergreen’s writing. While Magellan’s story has all the makings of an epic, Bergreen structures the volume as an epic within each chapter, and sometimes within even smaller sections. Instead of choosing to either state facts for a fairly dry read or build up the story with a more folklore take on the history, Bergreen stumbles between the two without finding a smooth way to identify a climax or even set the stage for rising action.

*Contains mild violence and mild sexual content.