Scott O'Dell

Start Free Trial

Jack Forman

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 173

A Mayan Indian legend tells of the god Kukulcan, who, grieving over a misdeed, left earth promising to return centuries later in the body of a young man who has come from the east.

Scott O'Dell uses this legend in ["The Captive," the] first novel of a projected larger story called "City of the Seven Serpents." "The Captive" is narrated by Julian Escobar, a young, idealistic Jesuit seminarian in medieval Spain who travels to New Spain with an entrepreneur to carry the Christian gospel to the Mayans. Julian is quickly disillusioned by his sponsor's mercenary interests….

This is very similar to Mr. O'Dell's other matter-of-fact first-person narratives about North and South American Indian life. One can quibble here and there about plot devices (e.g., how Julian learns the Mayan language so quickly), but there's no better introduction to the rich and remote Mayan culture than through such a well-told tale. And there's more to come.

Jack Forman, in a review of "The Captive," in The New York Times Book Review, February 24, 1980, p. 33.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Kirkus Reviews


Leon Garfield