"I, Jeronimus, am a man of phials, a measurer of powders on bronze scales, a potion brewer, an opium and arsenic merchant. The primped and perfumed Amsterdam burghers came to me in droves requiring cures for fevers, love balms, the miscarriage of a bastard child, and, of course, poisons. Ah, poisons."
So speaks Jeronimus Cornelisz, a thirty-year-old apothecary who transforms before our eyes into a murderous madman.
The Company is a novel based on the 1629 voyage of the Dutch East India Company flagship Batavia, bound for the colonies with a cargo of untold riches. Among the passengers is Cornelisz, a man ousted from polite society by sordid rumors of necromancy. Corrupt to the very marrow of his soul, Cornelisz considers himself God's equal, the rightful heir to gold, silver -- even another man's wife. So twisted is he by lust and greed that he incites a mutiny, running the ship aground on a reef.
All is lost -- the ship is wrecked, its passengers dying, the treasure trashed at the bottom of the sea. "The apothecary will heal us," the survivors pray, believing themselves lucky to be alive. In the name of benevolence, Cornelisz seizes command of their island refuge. The brave castaways stir with hope -- until the killing begins. For forty frenzied days, Cornelisz decides who shall live and who shall die, leaving his victims with just one wish -- that they had gone down with the ship.
Soaked with the blood of the innocent and the wicked, The Company plunges, with the weight of history, deep into the heart of darkness.
- Simon & Schuster, January 2002
Simon & Schuster
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