Edison Marshall wields a dull cutlass and yet hacks out blocks of passable background. This pseudo-biography palms off Herman Cortez as the Casanova conquistador of Seville, Cuba and Mexico. Rising from near poverty, young Herman burns to make out like Tony Curtis and get his share of that New World gelt. First though come his studies in cosmography, astronomy and applied anatomy (three seduction scenes before he ever sees a sail). Once these are under his doublet, he makes Cuba, two jail escapes and two more girls, marrying one. Then on, toward the mainland and Montezuma and more girls. Then all gets gory with gold, high culture and human sacrifice. As Montezuma dies, Mr. Marshall muses; ""It was the end of an era. The world they had known and seen through glasses darkly was fated for destruction. This was the twilight of their gods."" Such clinking cliches are hardly worth stringing.