Sir Walter Raleigh's betrayal in the jungles of the Orinoco wistfully and colorfully treated through the story of his young scribe Francis Martinson. Francis' story begins with his apprenticeship to a mean and vicious tanner in London. The boy is mistreated but keeps at his work longer than most people would under the circumstances- until his friendship with Raleigh's son Wat, whom he had met by accident in a fight, bears fruit. Wat takes him to his father in the Tower and there Raleigh decides to use him as a secretary, and Francis gradually becomes a loved member of the family. Both boys sail with Raleigh when King James commissions the ill fated expedition to hunt for gold. The King's backhanded deal with the Spanish wreaks its havoc on the expedition, on Wat who is killed and on Raleigh who is eventually beheaded. Francis lives subsequently to become one of the Jamestown colonists. Last year, the author's Golden Conquest (about Cortez in Mexico) set a high standard of character and value examination that this holds.