The Gold Eaters

Written by Ronald Wright
Review by Jo Ann Butler

In 1526, Waman, an Inca lad trembling on the edge of manhood, leaves home to make his fortune. His grandfather went to sea as a young man and returned as a rich trader with tales of fire islands and giant tortoises. So Waman joins a Peruvian raft headed westward, only to be overtaken by a strange ship carrying pale-skinned barbarian men clad in cold metal. Most of the raft’s crew is slaughtered, but Waman is enslaved.

After hearing of Mexico’s unbelievable wealth and the ease of its conquest by Cortez, Francisco Pizarro is ravenous for Inca gold. He has the same weapons as Mexico’s conqueror, but Pizarro needs an interpreter to control the Incas. Waman is old enough to learn Spanish, but young enough to be pliable. The lad is dubbed Felipillo, taught his captors’ language at the point of a sword, and taken to Spain with samples of Inca treasure. When Pizarro raises an army and returns to Peru a few years later, Waman is forced to aid in the destruction of his people.

In The Gold Eaters, the award-winning Ronald Wright explores both the mighty clash of great civilizations and Waman’s internal struggle. Has the young man taken on so many Spanish ways that he is a man of two hearts – no longer Inca? Will the remnants of his family embrace him, or recoil? Wright presents lucky readers with complex, interwoven tales in a truly compelling story. I devoured The Gold Eaters, and you will too. Highly recommended.