Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What Mrs N's Been Reading - The King's Fifth

Went back and read an old one this time - Scott O'Dell's The King's Fifth, originally published back in 1966. If you've read Island of the Blue Dolphins or The Black Pearl, then you know that O'Dell does a nice job with historical fiction, with a young main character. The King's Fifth was true to O'Dell's reputation. This one has a young mapmaker on trial for cheating the Spanish king out of his share (the fifth referenced in the title) of gold that was found on an expedition to Mexico in 1541. During the course of that trial, he is also accused of murdering his superior officer. The story switches between his trial, and his recollection of events of the expedition. During the trial, officials at nearly all levels are trying to get in good with the boy, because it seems that he's the only one left alive who knows where the gold is hidden. The King's Fifth gives a good look at what it was like to be on one of those expeditions, both the physical conditions, and the way that the idea of lots and lots of gold affected some of the men psychologically. A good adventure story, with a likable main character. I recommend it!

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