THE SPANISH BIT SAGA #20
By Don Coldsmith
Bantam paperback, November 1993
Originally published in hardback, April 1992
Twelve brave young men set out, led by the indomitable Blue Jay, seeking a better wintering land to the mysterious south. But the quest becomes an obsession that plunges the men – and the beautiful, enigmatic woman who joins them – into a lush, deadly forest inhabited by great spotted cats and “thunder lizards,” against a man-eating people near the sea, and to a highland realm where human sacrifice are performed on a man-made mountain.
To the young holy man Walks in the Sun, the journey is a test of his vision and his skill at casting the bones. For as he and his comrades face death, disease, and loss, they fight for survival – and a return to the People.
Like most of the previous books in the series this one is also about discovery, wonders that can also fill the mind with mistrust and fear, be they new lands, unknown people or creatures. Don Coldsmith was a master at capturing these feelings in the written word, making the reader share these moments as if they were there too. A perfect example of this is when Blue Jay and his band camp on the beach and fear they have angered the sea Gods as the water slowly creeps further and further up the sand as if to sweep them away.
Right from the start the reader knows that most of the band doesn’t return from this journey and Coldsmith’s superb storytelling reaches out and grabs the imagination as the reader becomes one of those in the audience listening to Walks in the Sun’s emotionally charged description of the joys and sadness the band endures as their trail takes them much further south than intended.
This really is a beautifully told story that for me has become one of my favourites in this wonderful series so far.