With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels;
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!
The King’s Gold by Yxta Maya Murray
Reviewed on: January 1, 2023
HarperCollins Publishers: New York
Two years have passed since The Queen Jade adventure (reviewed here last month), and Red Lion adventure and fantasy bookstore owner Lola Sanchez has returned to her quiet life of living the vicarious adventures of Alan Quatermain, Dirk Pitt, Professor Challenger, and even Indiana Jones. She is also in the throes of preparations for her imminent marriage to UCLA archaeologist and former notorious playboy, Erik Gomara.
Her reverie is disrupted by a visit from three very alarming men, led by a dapper Guatemalan who identifies himself simply as “Marco.” Claiming that Lola’s reputation as an expert in deciphering arcane documents has led him to her door, Marco solicits her aid in interpreting a 16th Century document written by a Florentine alchemist named Antonio Beato Cagliostro Medici, who rode with Hernan Cortez in the sacking of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and who claimed to have stolen Montezuma’s gold and taken it back to Italy. In the document, a letter written to his despised nephew, Cosimo I, duke of Florence, Antonio tells of the vast Aztec treasure which he has hidden, and which may be discovered by solving two ciphers that reveal the hiding places of four clues scattered among four rival Italian city-states that will ultimately lead to the gold horde.
Marco implores Lola to travel with him to Italy to hunt for the hidden gold, and when she demurs—after all, her wedding is just two weeks away!—he becomes more threatening, revealing that he has links to her recent past, and that her biological father, Tomas de la Rosa, archaeologist and one-time Guatemalan freedom fighter, died in Italy searching for Montezuma’s gold, not in Guatemala, as Lola and her mother, UCLA archaeologist Juana Sanchez, had been led to believe. The lure of Montezuma’s legendary treasure trove plus the possibility of discovering her father’s final resting place overcomes her misgivings—and better judgement-- and she agrees to accompany Marco and his thuggish sidekicks as they fly to Florence.
What follows is a wild—sometimes madcap—journey through Italy as Lola and Marco—soon to be joined by the irate bridegroom-to-be, Erik Gomara, Lola’s mother Juana and step-father Manuel and adventurous half-sister, Yolanda de la Rosa—set out to follow the clues—and booby traps—left by Antonio Medici. From Florence to Siena to Rome to Venice and ultimately to the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta on the tiny island of Torcello in the Venetian Lagoon, the intrepid adventurers face dangers and deceptions at every turn. Nothing and no one seems to be what and who they really are. And the treasure???
On many levels this is a beautifully conceived novel of adventure, romance, humor and transformation. The twists and turns of plot and character development come at a fast and furious pace. Not the least of the novel’s delights are the deeply evocative and lovingly rendered descriptions of the four Italian cities that play such crucial roles in the plot.
Four trowels for this worthy sequel to The Queen Jade.