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The Song of the Quetzal

In a lush rainforest situated in southern Costa Rican, deemed off-limits by the government, Diego begins his search for a legendary blue tree to save his mother's life. The stories tell of its nectar, able to cure all those who drink of it, and its roots, offering immortality to those who should eat of them.

The book is based upon a native folktale that states:

When the shiny feathered long tails disappear from the jungle,
When silent ones carry the tune of life,
The rainbow-dressed blue tree
Will weep tears of joy.

The word "quetzal" comes from the nahuatl term quetzalli, meaning "shiny feathered long tails." Pre-Columbian cultures, among them the Mayan and Aztecs, considered the quetzal a sacred bird. Its iridescent plumage was a symbol of spirituality, life, dignity, fertility, liberty, abundance, power and wealth. The bird was caught in order to pluck its best feathers and then released. Whoever killed a quetzal would suffer a punishment.

The Song of the Quetzal is the first novel by the Costa Rican author Victor Roswell. It is written for a younger audience and falls within the so-called eco-fantasy genre. The original idea comes from the author’s concern for the destruction of the earth’s rainforests, source of an abundance of medicinal plants and home to the majority of what remains of the world’s animals, reptiles and insects. The emblematic golden toad, a creature that is now extinct, plays its part in the novel.

The story takes place in a group of mountains in Costa Rica's South Pacific mountain range. They are called San Cristóbal; it’s not what they’re really called, but it might prevent some crafty, greedy fellow from finding this fabulous place, should he come across this story. What is true is that neither the Spaniards, nor any other nation, have been able to conquer these lands. 

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