At the end of The Captive (1978), we left the shipwrecked young seminarian Julian Escobar assuming the identity of the reincarnate god Kukulcan--the alternative to a ritual death--and surveying the Mayan island city-state he now rules in that capacity. In this first-person narrative, Julian still expresses horror at the human sacrifices he doesn't dare order stopped, and still determines to bring the word of his own true God to the Mayans. But it is more likely the greater honor and glory of Julian-as-Kukulcan, an assimilation he accepts with ease, that impels his new preoccupation with restoring the ruined city to its former splendor; and he has no qualms about sending his army off for slaves to do the work. It is Julian's need for yet more worker-slaves that inspires his ill-considered grand scheme: he will journey to the city of the mighty Moctezuma to observe the Aztec's strategies of conquest, with a view to amassing a similar kingdom for himself. As Julian's skeptical and hostile priest has foressen, Moctezuma's response to their visit is to promise an imminent glorious death for the tall blond stranger and his Spanish compatriot, the dwarf who had set him up as a god. But as the two are not yet ready to become hummingbirds, they flee Tenochtitlan. . . and find themselves drafted into the invading army of the ruthless Cortes. In this strong middle volume, in which much is set in motion but little is decided, O'Dell gives us an interesting though not revealing view of the great Moctezuma's "confused" last days, a lightning-like spectacle of multifarious intrigue, and, above all, a shrewd, set-back, wait-and-see look at Julian's loyalties and perceptions in formation.