Saturday, December 23, 2006

The King's Fifth

by Scott O'Dell

This book is a tale about "gold fever", the malady where one becomes so obsessed with obtaining gold that one loses all sense of morality and common sense. The year is 1541 and a cartographer named Estéban de Sandoval is sitting in prison awaiting trial. He is accused of not paying the king a fifth of the treasure he discovered, as required by law. In flashback, Sandoval recounts how he came to travel through the lands of Nuevo España (modern day Mexico and Arizona) searching for gold. It's an interesting peek back into the lives and times of the Spanish invasion of North America. As for the tale itself, well, it's almost a stereotypical tale of greed and arrogance. I kept flashing back to the movie Mackenna's Gold as I read the book. But the characters were interesting and the ending is somewhat positive. As waiting room material goes, it's pretty good.
LibraryThing link


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