Megan's Reviews > The King's Fifth

The King's Fifth by Scott O'Dell
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's review
Oct 29, 09

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An interesting look at a group of Spanish conquistadors searching the New World for gold. The story is told from the viewpoint of Esteban de Sandoval, a young cartographer who travels with a group of conquistadors from Coronado's army is search of the riches of the Seven Cities of Cibola. The story opens with Sandoval imprisoned and accused of withholding the "King's Fifth," or the Spanish crown's portion of the gold Sandoval discovered on his journeys. When he is brought to trial, Sandoval pleads guilty of the crime and admits to having found the gold but claims that he cannot give the king his portion. The remainder of the novel alternates between a series of flashback recounting Sandoval's hunt for the gold and scenes from his current courtroom trial.

I really enjoyed the insight this book gave of the powerful draw gold held for the conquistadors. When meeting with one group of Indians in the story, the tribe's chief asks, "This gold...why is it of such value that a man goes hungry to search for it?" Many of the characters in the story were gripped throughout the entire book by the mere thought of finding gold, and others were soon swayed by its lure. I appreciated that the author never really seemed to preach about the evils of gold or material wealth but instead focused more on how it changed the characters and shaped their actions and tested how far they were willing to go and what they were willing to do in order to reach their goal.

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