THE GOLD OF DREAMS by JosÉ María Merino


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The son of a Spanish conquistador and an Indian woman, 15-year-old Miguel VillacÉ Yótotl, leaves his home in conquered Mexico to join an expedition in search of the golden realm of the high priestess Yupaha. The journey is a treacherous one through unexplored territory where the group is often set upon by unfriendly tribes. Their leader, Don Pedro, is killed in one such assault, and the future of the venture is left in the hands of his courageous bride, DoÑa Ana. Reaching Yupaha's realm, they find an old woman with little gold to offer. As dissention mounts in the ranks, DoÑa Ana reluctantly agrees to let the party split up and take different routes back to the ship, a move that nearly spells death for them all as the greed of some leads to an attack on Yupaha's tribe; salvation is possible only with the help of GinÉs, the group's Indian interpreter. Ironically, the last, arduous leg of the return journey does lead to treasure. In a matter-of-fact style, well translated by Lane, the Spanish author portrays with honesty and power the peculiar mix of religion, glory, and greed that marked his country's conquest of the New World; acts of violence are presented in graphic but unsensationalized detail that conveys their commonplaceness in the 16th century. A gratuitous bit of melodrama when--the party happens on a tribe headed by none other than Miguel's long-lost father--but it hardly detracts from the fine quality of the whole.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 1992
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: "Farrar, Straus & Giroux"