The life of Cusi Huascar who became the Inca Huayna Capac and the father of Atahualpa, whom the Spanish conquered, is treated in fictionalized form that couples its knowledge of the period with a sense of drama that makes it into a story with an acceptable plot and characters. As it opens we see a large gathering of tribes at Cuzco and in determining the loyalty of one of the chieftains, find that it is Cusi rather than his brother Roca who will probably be the next Inca. The knowledge makes the jealousy of Princess Wini, Roca's betrothed, flare up to plague Cusi in the months and years following. In proving himself, Cusi's main tank is the subjugation of the Shyrri, a tribe to the north and the thorn in the flesh of the Inca Empire, which needs peace in order to continue the vast program of building and social progress. As Cusi's campaign grows the elements are woven together to give an idea of the remarkable way these people lived and of the tragedies and fortunes that swept the lives of their royalty. Whether they actually thought and felt as the author indicates is debatable but her presentation of the outward aspects of their lives is an exciting recreation of history.