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During the brutal Spanish colonization of the New World, the voice of the Aztec officer known as Xolotl, oft called Prodigal Monster, throws new light on the last days of the conquest of Mexico. He is about to open an enigmatic little can-of-worms.

While ostensibly implying that a bit of treachery—perhaps mutiny—took place in the palace before the retreat of June 30, Xolotl disputes Hernando Cortés’s claims that the Emperor was hit in the head with a stone while trying to calm a rebellious crowd in the streets below. And for once, Cortés, the silver-tongued confidence man from Estremadura, is shocked to silence. The officers present believe there must be a compelling reason for the cover-up, but they have more immediate concerns that claim their attention that last desperate evening. The men must find a way to cross the Watertown causeway and the rain-drenched fields to the Anáhuac border.

But for the Conquistador, whose life has begun to come apart at the seams, the consequences of his decisions have reached critical proportions, and only time will tell if he will conquer the powerful Aztec empire and better yet, live to tell his story.

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