The Captive (O’Dell)

Brief Description: 16 yo Spanish seminarian travels to New World and encounters the Maya. First in Seven Serpents Trilogy

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Historical Era:

Date Range: 1500s

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Original Publication: 1980

Suitable for Grades: 8th and up

Target Audience: Teen

Librarian's Review

I so wanted to like this book! I have not run across many books for children that take place in this setting (the Spanish conquest of Mexico.)  I have really enjoyed many of Scott O’Dell’s other books, but the author did not skillfully develop the character of 16 year old Julian Escobar, a Spanish seminarian sent from Seville on an expedition to the new world with a local nobleman. The descriptions of the sea voyage aboard a caravel and subsequent events were fine.   There is no subtlety to O’Dell’s depiction of the young seminary student wresting with the moral dilemma posed by the slave trade and the conversion of native populations to Christianity. The other characters in the novel are also vaguely depicted. This book is part of The Seven Serpents Trilogy which also includes the titles The Feathered Serpent and The Amethyst Ring.

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