So far I'm totally underwhelmed. Exposition exposition exposition! And I kind of see that the narrative attitude towards "indians" is supposed to reflect the times, but it's really uncomfortable and seems unexamined. exoticizing... infantilizing... "unthinking" natural savages and their natural wisdom... it makes me insane. Plus, the vague acknowledgement that the missions were exploiting the indians - the "novitiates" - and that they weren't free, yet with no thought of why the other "free" indians might have been attacking the missions, etc. And of course the one "nice" mission dude, Padre Mendoza, who is properly paternal, and in revolutionary fashioin treats his slaves well (all the while talking about how they are like children). If I felt a clear division between the narrative voice of the whole book and the author... it would be fine to represent the characters thinking that way. But there's no division and seems to be no consciousness that there might be such a division.
You get a more enlightened view of things in California just by reading "Two Years Before the Mast". That's kind of sad!
Jo has promised me, however, that the story heats up and then is all about relentless, cheesy, melodramatic action. So far that is not true and it's boring and predictable! Yes, you can have a character who was a baby girl raised by wolves and who dresses as a man and leads a battle charge, and still be annoying!
Aaaa, I'm such a bitch, how can I diss on Allende?