William Hickling Prescott lives again. The redoubtable nineteenth-century chronicler of the Spanish conquest of the New World, and of the monarchs under whose rule the conquest was launched, has found a formidable successor in Hugh Thomas. As devoted as his predecessor to the Spaniards and their history, though roaming further afield chronologically, and as committed to massive outpourings of narration, Thomas has now completed the second part of a trilogy that will encompass Spain’s relentless overseas expansion between 1492 and 1580. He has entered this territory before, with over 800 pages on the conquest of Mexico, published in 1993. Now, however, he has taken on the full Prescottian saga, and in almost as much detail.
This volume covers the period from the 1520s to the 1550s – that is, most of the reign of the Emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain). It was the high point of the era of the conquistador, when derring-do, endurance and brutality were the order of the