"The Amethsyt Ring" is the final book in Scott O'Dell's Seven Serpents Trilogy which follows the young Julian Escobar as he walks across New Spain during the early years of Spain's conquest of the New World. In book one, "The Captive", Escobar starts off as a wide-eyed seminarian looking to introduce Christianity to the native "savages", but ends up finding a Mayan culture past its prime while innocently (at first, at least) stepping into the role of the returning god Kukulkan. In book two, "The Feathered Serpent", Escobar embraces his role as a god, while exposing his inner religious and moral conflicts, and then runs right into Hernan Cortes as he marches across Mexico towards his fateful collision with Moctezuma and the Aztecs.
Book three follows Escobar after the initial battles in Tenochtitlan leave Cortes' Spaniards seemingly defeated and Moctezuma dead. Spain has gotten word of Escobar's imitation of Kukulkan and a bishop has been sent to the New World to pass along a message to Cortes to have this "God" arrested. While attempting to legitimize his attempts to convert his "noble savages", Escobar allows this bishop to be sacrificed and steals his ring (his amethyst ring). Escobar can never overcome this artificial ordination and is never able to bring himself to baptize anyone in the New World.
He runs south to avoid Cortes and winds his way to Panama where he runs right into Francsisco Pizarro as he prepares his small army to enter the land of the Inca. O'Dell places Escobar right in the midst of Pizarro's conquest of Peru and the Inca, as he did in "Feathered Serpent" with Cortes and the Aztecs. The key moment of conflict in the war with the Incas was Pizarro and his band of less than 200 soldiers, defeating tens of thousands of Inca at Cajamarca and kidnapping their emperor Atahualpa.
I love the stories of the Spanish Conquest and so these fictionalized accounts, targeted to young adults, are the perfect way to introduce these amazing tales of non-fiction. The book is very well written and easy to read and absorb. The hero has flaws and the story doesn't have a Hollywood ending, which makes the tale all the more compelling and interesting. I highly recommend this book.