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 anime cartoon TV series The Mysterious Cities of Gold. The characters take their names from the book, the high-level quest 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.

Matching characters[edit]

  • Esteban - main character and is the map maker of the group and he becomes imprisoned for 3 years for hiding the gold and not giving the king his fifth share.
  • Zia - an Inca 13year old, kidnapped to and then from Spain,she then is the group translator and speaks six different languages
  • Mendoza - a wily adventurer who arrived in the Americas by becoming a navigator on the ship to the New World to find gold in the seven cities
  • Father Francico - he doesn't really have a role in the group just one for extra ed vice and then he gives the blessing to others and is mainly a missionary.
  • Zuniga and Roa - a comedy duo who are Mendoza's cronies. They also are his musicians and are just mad gold crazy as their leader..

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]