Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
The Fair God
Lewis Wallace (1827–1905)
Fair God, The, by Lew Wallace (1873), passed through twenty editions in ten years. It is a historical romance of the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards, its scene laid upon Aztec soil, in the early part of the sixteenth century. The title is derived from Quetzalcoatl, “the fair god,” the Aztec deity of the air. Descriptions of the religion and national customs are pleasantly interwoven with the plot. The Emperor Montezuma is drawn as a noble but vacillating prince, whom the efforts of nobles and people alike fail to arouse to a determined opposition to the invading Cortez. At first thinking that the Spaniards are gods, he insists upon welcoming them as guests, ignoring the protests of his subjects, and even permitting himself to be craftily shut up, a voluntary prisoner, in the quarters of the Spaniards. Guatamozin, nephew and son-in-law to Montezuma, mighty in arms as wise in counsel, organizes the Aztecs for the overthrow of the Spaniards. A fierce conflict rages for many days. Toward its close the melancholy Montezuma appears upon the prison wall. Before all the people Guatamozin sends a shaft home to the breast of his monarch, who lives long enough to intrust the empire to his slayer, and also free him from blame for his death, explaining that the shaft had been aimed at his (Montezuma’s) own request. The Aztec army now rallies, and the Spaniards yielding at length to starvation, disease, and superior numbers, leave the empire. Too shattered to regain its former vigor, even under the wise rule of Guatamozin, the State gradually totters to its eventual fall, a catastrophe which the author indicates but does not picture.  1

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