Brazil by Errol Lincoln Uys - cover


Through the lives of two powerful families, Brazil depicts five turbulent centuries in the history of a remarkable land. From colony to kingdom, from empire to nation, Brazil is filled with memorable people living through one of the great adventures in human history.

The Cavalcantis are among the original settlers and establish the classic Brazilian plantation -- vast, powerful, built with slave labor. The da Silvas represent the second element in both contemporary and historical Brazil: pathfinders and prospectors. For generations, these adventurers have set their eyes on El Dorado, which they ultimately find in a coffee fortune at Sao Paulo.

Brazil is an intensely human story, brutal and violent, tender and passionate. Perilous explorations through the Brazilian wilderness . . . the perpetual clash of pioneer and native, visionary and fortune hunter, master and slave, zealot and exploiter . . . the thunder of war on land and sea as European powers and South American nations pursue their territorial conquests... the triumphs and tragedies of a people who built a nation covering half the South American continent, all are here in one spell-binding saga.


Publishers Weekly logo

Pulsing with vigor, this is a vast novel to tell the story of a vast country. Uys depicts Brazil's evolution from colony to empire to republic. Lacing the tale together are two families: the Cavalcantis, planters and slave owners; and representing another fundamental social stream, the da Silvas, prospectors, adventurers, seekers of El Dorado.

The principal characters, both real and imaginary are hard to forget. Among them: the great Indian warrior, Aruanã; Secundus Proot, a Dutch artist who wanders into the interior to paint Indians; Black Peter, a freed African slave who takes murderous revenge on his persecutors; Francisco Solano López, doomed and gallant president of Paraguay; Anthony the Counselor, visionary rebel.

Uys re-creates history almost entirely "at ground level," even more densely than Michener, through the eyes and actions of an awesome cast of characters.

Jornal do Brasil logo

Uys has accomplished what no Brazilian author from José de Alencar to Jorge Amado was able to do.

He is the first to write our national epic in all its decisive episodes, from the indigenous civilization and the El Dorado myth, everything converging like the segments of a rose window to that reborn and metamorphosed myth that is Brasilia.

He is the first outsider to see us with total honesty and sympathy and full empathy with the decisive moments in our history and their spiritual meaning.

Descriptions like those of the war with Paraguay are unsurpassed in our literature and evoke the great passages of War and Peace. --   Professor WIlson Martins 

Le Figaro logo

No one before knew how to bring to life Brazil and her history. Uys's characters are brilliant and colorful, combining elements of the best swashbuckler with those worthy of deepest reflection. His work  evokes perfectly the grand but interrupted dream that is Brazil.

L'Express logo

A masterpiece! Brazil has the look and feel of an enchanted virgin forest, a totally new and original world for the reader-explorer to discover. Who can resist such an invitation? Uys retraces all the great moments of Brazilian history with the charm and mastery of great historical fiction 

Washington Post logo

Uys has interwoven five centuries of Brazilian history and generations of two fictional families into a massive, richly detailed novel, Michenerian in sweep and scope, informative and intriguing. Uys has a sense of pace and an eye for detail that rarely fail him.

New York Times logo

This is not a caricature of Brazil, a country of endless carnival and happy samba dancers. Brazil offers a painless introduction to a country and people whose development has a sweep and drama similar to our own.

Booklist logo

Uys smoothly inter-weaves a series of self-contained episodes into a sprawling saga that spans five centuries. The richness and authenticity of the setting and the historical detail make the investment in this lavish drama eminently worthwhile.

Illustrated Guide to Brazil, a Novel

An online guide with a wealth of photos and illustrations giving a unique insight into the novel and the history of Brazil.

Links to the Illustrated Guide to Brazil can be found at the end of each section of the e-book enhancing the reader's enjoyment of a spellbinding saga "with the look and feel of an enchanted virgin forest, a totally new and original world for the reader-explorer to discover."


Brazil is the first work of fiction to depict five centuries of a great nation's remarkable history. With a stunning cast of real and fictional characters, this unforgettable epic unfolds in South America, Africa and Europe.

Brazil has a large cast of characters. The Cavalcantis of Santo Tomás and the da Silvas of Itatinga and most of the incidents involving these families are fictional. Aruanã, Secundus Proot, Black Peter, the Ferreiras, Patient Anthony, Armand Beauchamp, Henrique Inglez, Bábá Epifánia – these, too, are imaginary characters. 

King Afonso I of the Kongo; Nóbrega and Anchieta; Tomé de Sousa; Mem de Sá; Raposo Tavares; Johan Maurits; “Ganga Zumba;” Pombal; Tiradentes; Pedro II; Francisco Solano López; Eliza Alicia Lynch; Joaquim Nabuco; Anthony, the Counselor; Juscelino Kubitschek; Vilas Boas; Herbert “Betinho” de Sousa – these are real characters and what is said of them relates to recorded history.

Readers' guide  with Description | Table of Contents | Plot Summary | Characters/People | Settings/Locations | Glossary | Maps | Family Trees

Notebook from novel, Brazil. by Errol Lincoln Uys

I searched for the story of Brazil for five years, a literary pathfinder wandering in quest of the untold saga of the Brazilians and their epic history.

In these pages, I share my mighty journey of twenty thousand kilometers across the length and breadth of Brazil in 1981. I traveled through the heart of a nation in which the flame of freedom was newly lit after years of military dictatorship, the journal I kept colored by the voices and emotions of the era.

I explore the exhaustive processes that go into the making of a novel with a first draft of three-quarters of million words written in the old-fashioned way, by hand. I reveal the early genesis of my ideas for plot lines and characters, the detailed planning of my outline.

Of all the accolades a writer could hope for at the end of an epic work like Brazil none brought more joy than a simple question asked by the famed Brazilian historian and sociologist Gilberto Freyre.

"I should like to know if Uys had an unpublished jornal intime of a Brazilian family?"

There was no private journal, just the will to understand the Brazilian "thing" and a passion for writing and storytelling, which lies at the heart of every good novel.





Brazilian slavery - Jean-Baptise Debret (detail)

Antônio Paciência, "Patient Anthony," was eight years old on a day in August 1855 when he learned a terrible lesson. Until then, the dark-skinned mulatto boy had known no shame at being naked and often raced bare-bottomed to the Riacho Jurema to swim in the creek.

That August morning, a stranger came to Antônio Paciência, who stood naked with four others, and examined him with the thoroughness the boy had seen with vaqueiros inspecting cattle. His head, shoulders, arms, hands, trunk, legs, and feet were inspected. He was made to open his mouth wide to permit an examination of his teeth. The boy's private parts were searched. When his genitals were touched, Antônio Paciência uttered an involuntary cry, which made the stranger laugh and give the boy's testicles a vicious squeeze.

"As he grows older, senhor, he'll be a good worker.". . .

Antônio Paciência stood with two older boys, a young man, and a girl. They were on the dusty open ground thirty feet away from the main house of Fazenda da Jurema.

Antônio Paciência raised his head slightly. He saw the senhor capitão sitting on the veranda, fanning himself with his hat. The senhor capitão's son was here, walking with the stranger as he inspected those selected to stand before him. Antônio Paciência's gaze shifted nervously from the senhor capitão to some women gathered off to the left between the house and a storeroom. He looked at the black slave Mãe Mônica - "Mother Mônica," the senhor capitão fondly called her - who stood at the front of the group.

Battle of Riachuelo - Paraguayan War

After going to the rescue of the Parnaíba, the flagship Amazonas steamed slowly up the channel exchanging shots with the enemy, though these cannonades were secondary to another objective of Vice-Admiral Barroso and his men. About a mile upstream, the Amazonas turned. Then, full steam ahead, her great paddle wheels churning the water, the Amazonas came down before the three-knot current.

On and on she rode, belching black smoke from her stack and red flame from the mouths of her cannon, steaming directly for the Paraguarí, the newest vessel in President López's fleet.

She struck the Paraguarí amidships, her ram buckling iron plates, smashing through the enemy's bulwarks. The Amazonas's steam whistle shrieked, her decks vibrated violently, her engines raced at full power with a mighty force that shoved the Paraguayan steamer sideways through the water and onto a sandbank.

"Viva Dom Pedro Segundo! Viva Brasil!" the Amazonas's men cheered, as the frigate backed away from the crippled vessel.

Some Paraguayans had been hurled off the gunboat by the impact; some had abandoned her to swim to the west bank. But a dozen or so shouted back abuse at the macacos and hurried to clear the debris around a 12-pounder. It was a desperate defiance: They were enraged at the destruction of their ship, and afire with the knowledge that generations of Guarani before them had been called to stand fast against this enemy of enemies.



BRAZIL by Errol Lincoln Uys