Sold into slavery by a wicked stepfather, Marina wins the admiration of her master, conquistador Hernan Cortes, and rises to become the most powerful woman in 16th century Mexico.
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Helen Heightsman Gordon
They triumphed over youthful hardships (hers in Aztec-ruled Mexico, his in rural Spain), to become a team that changed two continents forever. Without his loyal slave and interpreter Marina, the conquistador Hernan Cortes could not have toppled the empire of Moctezuma II. Without Cortes, Marina would have been crushed by the treachery of her ruthlessly ambitious stepfather. Together, they rebuilt a devastated nation, shaped its Christian destiny, and created their son from a love greater than a master and a slave are ever supposed to know.
These authentic, fully human historical characters interact with fictional characters who immerse us in the world of pre-Columbian Mexico: wise and foolish kings and aristocrats, ambitious warriors, merchant-spies, life-loving farmers, artisans, priests and priestesses, healing women, slaves, gamblers, and commoners. In this stratified world, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, men and women seek to understand each other and risk the pains of love. They build precarious relationships within a physical world plagued by earthquakes, storms, and famines; they find courage within a culture obsessed with war, bloodthirsty gods, and human sacrifice.
"I'll come right to the point," Cortes said. "You've had an offer of marriage. Juan Jaramillo wants to buy you from me."
Marina looked stricken. "Would you sell me?"
Cortes snorted. "Of course not! Ironically, however, I'm prepared to give you away."
Marina's anxiety intensified. "Why would you give me away? What have I done to displease you?"
"You've never displeased me," Cortes said, knowing it was true. "But I've been selfish, and now I want to please you. I need to know what you really want." . . .
Marina wondered about her own motives. Why had she decided to put the yellow flower in her hair? Was it to please Cortes, or because Juan had given it to her?
Her father's words came to mind once more. "Never want what you can never have, Malinalli." How unyielding was the fence those words had placed around her life? Would she be throwing away a chance for happiness by never daring to reach for it? For a few seconds she pondered her predicament; then she answered . . .