A highly colored romp through the last days of the Aztec empire, told in the voice of CortÃ‰s' mistress, from the author of The Inquisitor's House and Blaze. Malinche was born under threatening astrological conditions, but was spared routine murder by her generous father, a non-Aztec prince who governed a small outpost on the border of the vast lands controlled by Moctezuma. When a brutal raid by a neighboring tribe devastated the village, she and her parents traveled to Tenochtitlan, the sparkling Aztec capital. After her father's death at the treacherous hand of Moctezuma, Malinche goes through a shadowy period of quasi-prostitution in a coastal town, until strange sail-borne ships arrive. She recognizes the leader of the sailors as the latest incarnation of Plumed Serpant, the most thrilling of the gods. Malinche determines to seduce this god-man, who goes by the name CortÃ‰s. Quick with languages, she soon becomes his most trusted translator and, before long, his lover and advisor. CortÃ‰s' army makes its gold-scrounging way to Moctezuma's capital, entering into uneasy alliances with Aztec-hating nations and eventually bringing about Moctezuma's downfall. The novel succeeds as a giant action pageant, chock-full of human sacrifices, raging battles and Aztec trivia. Also interesting: Malinche's perceptions (aggressively street-smart, but imbued in Aztec religious imagery) of the hard-sold Spanish way of life. In all, a big, bloody imbroglio, filtered through the biased eyes of an ambitious and uncontrite narrator.