Scott O'Dell Francis X. Jordan - Essay

Francis X. Jordan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In The Feathered Serpent, Scott O'Dell … gives us the second installment of his chronicle set in old Mexico and dealing with the adventures of Julian Escobar, a young Spanish seminarian. In the sequence's first book, The Captive, Julian, after being cast away among the Maya, by chance assumed the role of their god, Kukulcan. The Feathered Serpent tells us of Julian's subsequent attempts to restore a Mayan city to its former splendor and gives us his eyewitness account of Hernán Cortés' momentous meeting with Moctezuma.

O'Dell skillfully avoids the double-barrelled problem confronting authors of multi-volumed chronicles. He manages to allude to The Captive in ways that will neither bore those who have read it nor alienate those who haven't. Furthermore, he concludes the present book at a natural pause in Escobar's life. When the novel ends, Julian is on the road back to his Mayan city after his near fatal encounter with Cortés.

Because the book deals with such moral ambiguities as Escobar's role in the Maya's human sacrifices … and because it contains scenes of violence perpetrated by both the Maya in these sacrifices and by the Spaniards in their encounters with the Indians, this fascinating book is recommended only for the more mature adolescent.

Francis X. Jordan, in a review of "The Feathered Serpent," in Best Sellers, Vol. 41, No. 10, January, 1982, p. 403.