In her newest novel, Sherwood (The Book of Splendor) vividly recreates the resounding collision between Spanish and Aztec civilizations in 1519 that helped shape the New World. Ambitious and ruthless conquistador Hernn Corts leads an expedition to the gates of Tenochtitln, the Aztec capital, where the outnumbered Spanish troops are welcomed by empororer Monctezuma, who mistakes Corts for the god Quetzalcoatl. The natives, however, rise up on the famous Noche Triste (Sad Night) of the title and drive out the Spanish. The Aztecs win the battle, but the Spanish return to win the war. As Corts's conquest is interwoven with memories and reflections from Aztec slave Malintzin-who serves the Spanish as translator and adviser and is taken as a mistress by Corts-Sherwood captures both Spanish and Indian perspectives. She also manages to avoid the trap of presenting the Incans as wholly noble victims of the rapacious Europeans. Her conquistadors are cruel, but the natives are hardly righteous-Malintzin witnesses ritual human sacrifice, slavery and cannibalism while growing up in Tenochtitln. Sherwood draws on solid research, keen imagination and descriptive prose to deliver a triad of history lesson, adventure saga and love story in one seamless narrative.