Going into this book my only frame of reference was a black and white Dr. Who Episode and a Neil Young song. Levy does a good job of taking what could have been a dry read and filling in gaps to make it read like a historical fiction.
Cortes leaves Cuba to set off to find treasure for Spain. When he first comes to land Montezuma sends treasure to him saying Hello here is a welcoming gift, now return wherever you came from. Cortes seeing the magnificent works sets up a fort and begins a quest to meet Montezuma. Montezuma sends another gift saying thanks for stopping in now please leave. Cortes continues to demand to meet with Montezuma. Cortes finally get across the land of mountains and beauty stopping at many villages along the way. Cortes learns from the villages about the taxes (tributes) that the people have to pay to Montezuma. At each village Cortes and his men stop at he tries to get them to stop human sacrifices and implores them to turn to Christianity . Finally Cortes and his men make it to Tenochtitlán. Cortes and Montezuma become friends, both looking to learn more about the other’s culture. The entire time Cortes is trying to get them to stop the human sacrifices that the Aztec’s ritually do.
After Cortes and his men put Montezuma under arrest and begin hoarding up their treasures do the Aztec people start to grumble. The Spaniards can sense the unrest and realize they are going to have to fight if they don’t hurry up and get out of the city, but then Cortes receives word that men have arrived from Cuba to take Cortes prisoner because he deceived the Cuba government and sent the treasure ship straight to Spain. Now Cortes has to fight the Spaniards luckily he is a good speaker and convinces lots of men to help him in his fight. After defeating the Spaniards he tries to return to Tenochtitlán to get all his treasure he had left. With Montezuma dead the Aztec’s have a new ruler who is going to fight to his death to defend his city. That is what he does. The Spaniards and the Aztecs have to almost daily change their fighting tactics because both sides are learning quickly how to get one up on the other. The Spaniards firepower and superior weapons finally wear the Aztecs down and they take Cuitláhuac captive.
Most of the treasure the Aztec’s had was thrown in the deep lake so the Spaniards lost their life for what turned out to be only about 3 crossbow’s price worth of booty.