This author's first book is a very well worked story of a Castilian lad's dramatic adventures with Cortez' tragic expedition to Mexico. By a turn of fate, Juan Christophe and an Indian girl Catalina both become members of the venture when it leaves Santiago de Cuba, and the narrative of the subsequent voyage follows historical fact. Experienced through the two young central characters, there is excitement every step of the way. Once at Vera Cruz, Cortez takes Juan partially into his confidence, in the attempt to set the various Mexican tribes against Montezuma. As the inevitable approaches, as Tenochtitlan is entered, Montezuma captured and massacres undergone, Juan meets Prince Cacama and in friendship realizes some of the faults of the ""brave"" and ""virtuous"" Spaniards. But the deeper complexity of the whole issue is accentuated by Juan's own death sentence at the hands of a pagan society. Fine historical fiction peopled with firmly drawn characters rises to a sharp climax for both Juan and Catalina as this particular phase of the conquest is played out.