Rayo, Hardcover, 9780060093594, 304pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2002
A perfect combination of history, passion, imagination and scholarship, Yxta Maya Murray's The Conquest pulses with the intangible essence that separates the books we love from the few that forever imprint themselves in our minds.
A restorer of rare books and manuscripts, Sara Gonzales lives in a solitary world filled with dusty broken books. A born reader, Sara is doing with her life just what she set out to do, even at the expense of true love.
When Sara is assigned to restore a banned and scandal-filled sixteenth century book called The Conquest, she does not yet know that the story will consume her, intellectually and emotionally, causing her to reevaluate her own sense of history as well as to question the decisions that have brought her to where she now finds herself.
Reputed to have been written by a notorious Spanish monk, The Conquest recounts the fantastic sexual adventures of an Aztec princess enslaved by Cortes after his conquest of what is now modern-day Mexico. Sent to Europe so that she may perform before the aristocracy, the princess soon becomes all the rage at court, an artist's muse, and a mortal danger to those who destroyed her world. Enthralled by the tale, Sara suspects that no monk wrote it, and she plunges into the mystery of the book's origin.
As Sara swims through the archives of the famed Getty Museum, the book captures more than just her curiosity. It becomes a cultural allegory of her own existence. In her own life, Sara has not resolved the conflicts of her broken family. While her father refuses to remember the past, she cannot forget her mother's untimely death. Sara's painful history that threatens her romance with the man she's always loved. It is The Conquest that leads Sara to an understanding of what she values most.
Filled with swashbuckling adventure and scholarly mystery, as well as a deep sense of our connection to history and its fallibility, The Conquest reminds us that books exist not only as doorways to other worlds, but also to help guide us toward discovering who we are and what we dare dream to one day become. A book for book lovers, The Conquest is Yxta Maya Murray's finest and most ambitious novel yet.
“Clever and spellbinding.”
-Washington Post Book World