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By Right of Conquest Or, With Cortez in Mexico

by G. A. Henty
375 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Nienna

Excellent historical read with a lot of non-descriptive violence.

Plot

When Roger Hawkshaw sets sail in the early 1500's with his father, a merchant captain, on a voyage to unknown seas in the heart of the Spanish dominions, he has no idea of the adventures that await. A fight with pirates, a storm, and a shipwreck seem nothing when he faces the splendor of the hitherto unknown Aztec Empire, and the tragedies that ensue there.

Morality

Roger is a Christian and has mostly biblical values and beliefs. He does lie a few times to save his life, but avoids direct lying whenever possible, and refuses to betray God in any way.
After seeing some Africans for the first time, Roger describes their appearance in a way that could be offensive.

Spiritual Content

Roger's Christianity is mentioned several times, and he once kisses a cross. Many mentions are made of the Aztecs' various gods, and some of the rituals done for them. One character is thought to be a god, and, to save his life, he allows that belief to continue. The difference between Christianity and the pagan Aztec beliefs is a theme throughout the book.

Violence

Many characters are killed in storms and battles. A main character is killed in battle. A main character is wounded severely. Main characters are in fear for their life many times. Many mentions are made of the human sacrifices made by the Aztecs, and of how the people are killed. Hundreds of people die of sickness or war, or they are sacrificed to the Aztec gods. Roger is in fear for his life for much of the story. While there is a lot of violence, none of it is at all descriptive, though it could be disturbing.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine and other alcoholic drinks are consumed, though not to excess. The Aztecs smoke tobacco.

Sexual Content

Polygamy is mentioned, and seems to be common among the Aztecs. A man kisses his fiance.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

A stack of skulls in one temple is briefly described. It is stated once that the Aztecs eat the people they sacrifice.

Conclusion

Full of historical and cultural information, while keeping mostly clean in light of its content, 'By Right of Conquest' gives a balanced picture of Cortez and the Aztecs. Though it deals with horrifically violent events, they are written non-descriptively. The characters are easy to relate to and the story is interesting. Roger doesn't always do what is right, but his aim is always to do righteously and he looks out for others more than for himself. Highly recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction or want to study this time period or culture.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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