The King's Fifth

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The King's Fifth
Author Scott O'Dell
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date
September 1966
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 272 pp (hardcover)
ISBN 0-395-06963-7 (hardcover), ISBN 0-440-94538-0 (paperback)
OCLC 301963

The King's Fifth (1966) is a children's historical novel by Scott O'Dell that was the inspiration for the cartoon TV series The Mysterious Cities of Gold. It describes, from the point of view of a teenage Spanish Conquistador, how the European search for gold in the New World of the Americas affected people's lives and minds.

Plot summary[edit]

The story takes place in a time when the Spanish adventurers known as Conquistadors roamed the New World of the Americas in search of the mythical gold treasures of the dethroned Native Americans.


  • Estéban de Sandoval - a teenage mapmaker to the expedition
  • Zia Troyano - a younger teenage Native American guide
  • Captain Blas de Mendoza (very loosely based on Antonio de Mendoza) - an aristocrat in search of gold
  • Father Francisco - a priest to the expedition who joined as a missionary and an explorer
  • Roa and Zuñiga - part of a trio of musicians who are Mendoza's cronies


TV series[edit]

The book was the inspiration for the 1982-1983 French cartoon TV series "Les Mystérieuses Cités d'or (The Mysterious Cities of Gold). A few of the central characters take their names from the book, the high-level quest (searching for the Cities of Gold) is the same, and the "golden lake" scene from the book is also present in the cartoon, but the similarities end there (the cartoon has motifs of fantasy and science fiction). The cartoon is set in South America, whereas the expedition in the book explores California, in North America.

Choose Your Own Adventure book[edit]

The book is also a slight influence in the Choose Your Own Adventure Time Machine's 1987 book Quest for the Cities of Gold, as the reader meets Esteban at different points.

Awards and nominations[edit]