Julian is twenty-six years old at the time the novel begins. Born in Cuba, he was exiled at the age of seventeen after serving some years at hard labor for writing political essays for La Revista Universal, an ‘‘ultra liberal’’ publication. He has dark, unruly, curly hair with dark blue eyes. During his exile from Cuba he wrote a booklet entitled "Life of a Political Prisoner in Cuba.’’ During his nine years of exile, he has traveled to Isla de Pinos, Madrid, Zaragoza, Paris, London, Progreso, Ciudad Mexico, Veracruz, Contoy, Isla Mujeres, Belize, and Guatemala. He is a teacher and writer whose father is a former Spanish army Lieutenant living on an army pension. Strong, muscular, broad-shouldered, his body chiseled by hard labor, he is enroute to a promised job in Guatemala City. He is leaving behind in Mexico City his fiancee Lucia, the daughter of a well-to-do Cuban lawyer. Julian is journeying to Guatemala hopeful to acquire work that will make him a good and successful husband to Lucia. He vows not to return to her until he has found success. He travels with only a very few items, scholarly books and his personal diaries. He writes his observations, feelings, speeches, and poems within the pages of those journals. He is never without them.
Julian is haunted by his experiences in Cuba as a political prisoner and dreams of one day making a difference and freeing his homeland and its people from the tyranny of the Spanish crown. While in Guatemala City Julian meets Sol, the eldest daughter of Don Manuel and faces yet another personal challenge. He falls in love with the young woman and fights with himself to choose honor over love. He is betrothed to Lucia and will not break his promise of marriage to her. He considers this betrayal no less heinous than allowing tyranny to exist in Cuba. For Julian nothing is simple. He is torn by his love of country and his passionate, deep love for Sol who seems to feel as he does. He discovers through his conversations with her that she is just as passionate toward the welfare of the Cuban people as Julian.
Julian is a man on the verge of greatness. In an open debate at the town hall in Guatemala City he is the third person to speak after two distinguished men have argued whether the pen or the sword is mightier. It is during Julian's remarks that one sees his potential to be a dynamic, powerful leader. This does not go unnoticed by members of the audience. Forever torn between his love of Sol and his love of country, Julian faces his deepest fears and changes the history of Cuba.
Sol is the eldest daughter of Don Manuel, the general who began the Guatemalan revolution and succeeded. She has golden blond hair, is slender, has a long neck and a creamy complexion. As the novel begins, she is seventeen. During a conversation with her nursemaid Xenufla, Sol is directed to journey to a small church in Jocotenango named after Santa Rita to ask the saint for guidance in choosing a husband. Sol follows Xenufla's precise instructions and has a vision of a dark-haired man with dark blue eyes. She returns to Xenufla and is told the Mayan saying, ‘‘Souls woven together by the gods can never be unraveled.’’ With youthful exuberance Sol shares her nursemaid's apparent joy over the vision she has had. It will be months before she meets the man of her vision. That man is Julian.
Sol is an well-educated young woman, an exception for her time. It is under her father's guidance that she has learned the violent past of her homeland of Cuba. Her general father who loves all his children and his wife has told her of war and brutality. When Sol meets Julian, there is more to their relationship than the chemistry of attraction. She truly seems his "soul-mate.’’ Despite her youth she acts much older and wiser than her years. When Julian leaves to honor his promise, she believes he has left to help Cuba become free. Even after learning of Julian's obvious betrayal of her love, she is not angry....
(The entire section is 2,037 words.)