The King's Fifth

By : Scott O'Dell

Book Review

The King’s Fifth is a Historical Fiction novel written by Scott O’Dell. This book has won a Newbery Honor Book award. Many of Scott’s books were historical fiction books. He is known for writing many books for children and was known as The Foremost American Writer of Children’s Historical Fiction Books. Esteban, Captain Mendoza and his crew set out to a land titled UNKNOWN. They want to be one of the first people to discover the land and also search for gold. If they make it back to Spain, they could be rich. If the die, no one will know about this UNKNOWN land.

Captain Mendoza and Esteban de Sandoval venture to the Sea of Cortés. Esteban, the main character, enjoys to make maps and that is why Captain Mendoza chose him to go on the voyage with him. Along the way Esteban made landmarks on a map. When he was looking over his map he came across a large piece of land titled UNKNOWN. He announced it to Captain Mendoza and he wanted to see what treasures await them. On their voyage, they came across Captain-General Coronado, He was a Spanish conquistador and explorer. Coronado led his large army through California. He stopped Captain Mendoza and asked if anyone wanted to go back out to sea with him or stay on land. Many of his crew looked at the hard surf and decided not to go back out to sea with him. They knew that it would be dangerous to head back out to sea, so many decided not to go. Esteban, 4 soldiers and Captain Mendoza were the only ones to head back out to sea. When they went back out to sea, there was an intense storm that made them lose a lot of their equipment. It was not supposed to rain or have any type of precipitation in the summer by California. While sailing at night, Lunes decided to jump out of the boat and began to swim away. He did this because he figured it would be safer to get away and look for an Indian village. When it was morning, they began to head toward land. After days of pain and drought, they came across a village where they had a large feast and traded some of the things they had for more expensive things. While traveling and looking for The Seven Cities, a myth that was believed in the 1500’s. It was said to have golden walls and golden pavements and walkways. When they arrived at the first so called city they saw that there was no golden walls or rich people, they just thought that they had the wrong place on the map. They kept exploring and came across many other of the cities that were said to be made of gold. None of them did. Them and their Indian friends became very discouraged that they contemplated turning around and going back home. They saw something glistening and shining in the water so they went toward it and saw it was gold! They were so excited that they all ran to grab it at the same time. The gold nugget was worth about 24 onzas. They began to argue over it and began to fight for it. After a while they decided to split it evenly. They came across another Indian Village called Tawhi and trades them cheap trinkets for gold dust. Later that morning they wake up to see a Chief that told them to follow him because he has enough gold to last 100 lifetimes. They follow him and they see a small lake that was filled with gold. Their greed got to them and they took a lot of it and loaded into bags. If they can make it back to Spain they could become rich, if they do not, then what happens to all the gold?

Scott O’Dell really did an amazing job at keeping the setting of the novel as a historical fiction. I really enjoyed the parts in the novel when there is a storm because he uses terms like ‘Millions of serpents hissing through the waves” to represent the sound of the strong winds. The only thing about the book I didn't like was how many times I had to pause my reading to look up words because there is a lot of terms that people used and said in the 1500’s and no one says now. There is nothing Scott could have done except have a short description of the historical terms used in the book at the bottom of the page represented by numbers because some people, including me, does not enjoy stopping our reading to look up terms that we are not familiar with.

Can Captain Mendoza and his crew return to Spain safely with all of their gold or will he perish in battle. I would give this book a 3/5 because it jumps around a lot and uses a lot of words that I am not familiar with. I would recommend this book to people who are okay with pausing their reading quite a bit to look some things up. The book was really good overall and had a lot of strong points that will make you want to read at least one more chapter.

Historical Accuracy

In The King's Fifth, there were many aspects that made the story true. One aspect in the novel is Captain-General Coronado. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was a Conquistador in the 1500’s. He traveled through present-day Texas and came across Zunis and Hopis. Zuni and Hopi are two Indian tribes mentioned in the book. It is also accurate because when it got cold and started snowing in the book, Coronado stayed in the village of Tiwa. In the book he was very ruthless and in reality, he killed multiple of the Indians in the village which made this stament true. There are mant aspects that made the story true, but this one is one of the most important.

Short Informative Piece

I think that Ronda is an important place in the book.

'"I presume from the city of Salamanca. The country of scholars, where everyone is pale, red around the eyes from reading, and has ink-stained fingers."

"No, from Ronda."

"Truely? This is difficult to believe. Those from Ronda are usually venturesome fellows. Stout with the sword. Good horsemen. Restless, ready for anything.""

In the 1500's Rhonda was considered a very strong City in Spain. It is a very mountainous city and most of the people from Rhonda are great warriors and enjoy going on adventures. There is a large gorge called El Tajo that seperates the old town from its newer towns. Ronda is located a few miles from the shore of Spain making it easy for the people of Ronda to travel. The people from Ronda travel in search for gold and treasure.

Short Narrative Piece

April 1545,

This is Esteban. I miss Rhonda very much. Recently Captain Mendoza and his crew, including me, were sailing and we came across Captain-General Coronado and his large army. He forced us to pull our ship to shore. While we were there he asked the Captain if anyone wanted to join him and leave Captain Mendoza. Only 6 of us were left and we had to take a smaller ship. Back out at sea, the waves were very harsh and strong that we all had to bail the water out of the boat so it didn't sink. After a while of sailing, we came across an indian village. At the indian village, we had a feast and traded them some of the small trinkets we had for gold. Sadly we began to become so greedy that we stole all of the indian's gold and left them there with nothing. We felt no or little regret, because all we could think about was becoming rich.


"Coronado, Francisco Vásquez De (1510?-1554)." American Eras. 1997, "Francisco Vásquez De Coronado." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004, "Coronado, Francisco Vásquez De." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed.. 2016, "Coronado, Francisco Vásquez De." World Encyclopedia. 2005, and "Vásquez De Coronado, Francisco." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Ed.. 2016. "Coronado, Francisco Vásquez De (1510?-1554)." HighBeam Research, 01 Jan. 1997. Web. 10 May 2016. <>.

"Historic Ronda, Andalusia – Travel Guide, Facts and Map." Spain- Holiday, n.d. Web. 10 May 2016. <>.

O'Dell, Scott. TheKingsFifth. Digital image. The King's Fifth. Wikimedia, n.d. Web. < TheKingsFifth.jpg>.

Watson, Fiona Flores. "Ronda Facts." Ronda - Fascinating Facts. Andalucia, n.d. Web. 5 May 2016. <>.

The King' Fifth By Scott O'Dell