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Fiction Literary

The Gold Eaters

A Novel

by (author) Ronald Wright

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Nov 2016
Literary, Hispanic & Latino, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2016
    List Price

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A sweeping, epic historical novel of exploration and invasion, of conquest and resistance, and of an enduring love that must overcome the destruction of one empire by another.

Kidnapped at sea by conquistadors seeking the golden land of Peru, a young Inca boy named Waman is the everyman thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Forced to become Francisco Pizarro's translator, he finds himself caught up in one of history's great clashes of civilizations, the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire in the 1530s. To survive, he must not only learn political gamesmanship but also discover who he truly is, and in what country and culture he belongs. Only then can he find and be reunited with the love of his life and begin the search for his shattered family, journeying through a land and a time vividly portrayed.
     Based closely on real events, The Gold Eaters draws on Ronald Wright's imaginative skill as a novelist and his deep knowledge of South America to bring alive an epic struggle that laid the foundations of the modern world.

About the author

RONALD WRIGHT is an award-winning historian, essayist, and the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction published in sixteen languages and more than forty countries. His 2004 CBC Massey Lectures, A Short History of Progress, was a #1 national bestseller, won the Libris Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, and was the basis for the Martin Scorsese–produced documentary Surviving Progress. His other bestselling nonfiction books include the BC Book Prize–winning history What Is America?; Stolen Continents, which won the Gordon Montador Award; and Among the Maya. His first novel, A Scientific Romance, won the 1997 David Higham Prize for Fiction and was a Globe and Mail, Sunday Times, and New York Times book of the year. Wright contributes criticism to the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications. He lives in British Columbia.

Ronald Wright's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“a compelling story, history that’s sound without being intrusive, and characters that are human and believable…The novel is also unique because it focuses on territory not covered by others…the novel [has an] authentic sense of time and place, as do the descriptions of landscape." Historical Novel Society
“So interesting and compelling…absolutely enchanting…very fun.” BookRiot
“Real events form the basis of [Wright’s] fiction, and his diligent research allows him to conjure colorful details…[Wright] captures the flavor of Peru in this period of its history.” The New York Times Book Review
"The writing flows smoothly with the plot in this beautiful narrative of historical fiction... fans of high adventure will enjoy this grand story." New York Journal of Books
“The novel's compelling characters and roller coaster plot will leave you whipping through the pages with eagerness and awe. The Gold Eaters is truly the gold standard to which all fiction — historical and otherwise — should aspire.” —Buzzfeed Books

“Ronald Wright has dug deep in the treasure of the Spanish-American chronicles and come up with a golden, fabulous story of courage, greed, political intrigue and the treacherous bridges we build between clashing civilisations.” —Alberto Manguel
The Gold Eaters is majestic in its sweep and gives the reader a tangible sense of a culture that is being destroyed, its weaknesses as well as its wonders, as well as the semi-demented state of conquerors, separated from home and driven by desperation as well as greed. And always, the beauty and epic scale of the land around them, coloured with the pain of small individual lives which are, but are not, history.” —Sarah Dunant
The Gold Eaters is more than a heart-pounding epic; it is a brilliant and difficult reflection on the breaking of an Indigenous people on the wheel of ‘progress.’ Ronald Wright is a storyteller at the height of his powers.” —Joseph Boyden
“Wright’s fast-paced historical novel unfolds in the early 16th century...Diligent research [and] colorful details capture the flavor of Peru…Part coming-of-age novel, part first-contact saga, The Gold Eaters tells the story of Spain’s battle for Peru through the eyes of its participants.” —Sara Wheeler, New York Times Book Review 
“[An] epic adventure of conquest, war, and cultural differences…Wright displays his mastery of the historical fiction form with this terrific novel that will enlighten anyone interested in the conquest of Peru.” —Library Journal  *starred review*  
“Readers are treated to a riveting account of the wealthy, culturally superior Incans and the encroachment of the Spaniards on their civilization...Wright’s fictionalized treatment brings those abuses home in a visceral way—readers will never again think of conquistadors without shuddering.”  —Booklist *starred review*
“Wright is a fine stylist, never more so than when alternating between shocking violence and tender intimacy…. In its ambition and drive to bring the past level with the present, The Gold Eaters resembles another extraordinary recent novel about disastrous first contact, Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda.” —Charlie Foran, Maclean’s

“Richly evocative, skillfully paced...a brilliant approach [to] both worlds, Inca and Spanish."  —Emily Donaldson, Globe and Mail
“Wright’s narrative deftly juggles the elements of historical fiction, war story, and coming-of-age novel.” —Kirkus Reviews (USA)
“This is a rousing adventure tale of bold exploration and conquest, but best is Wright’s vivid portrayal of unrestrained 16th-century Spanish imperialism, complete with villains, victims, and a few heroes.” —Publishers Weekly (USA)

“Wright is an extraordinary storyteller and historian.  One of the best books I have ever read.”  —Victoria Jonas, National Post 

“A brilliant piece of historical fiction, [The Gold Eaters] reads like an adventure story by Robert Louis Stevenson or Sir Walter Scott, but which is full of import for our current times.”  —Peter Robb, Ottawa Citizen
“Striking...clever...Wright creates some splendid scenes.”  —Now
“A lively tale with an epic sweep…It is hard to read The Gold Eaters without noting that the world is not so different today.” —Vit Wagner, Quill & Quire

Praise for Ronald Wright's work:

“Ronald Wright is an historical philosopher with a profound understanding of other cultures.” — Jan Morris 

“Wright is an acute and indefatigable observer, bound to be compared with Peter Matthiessen and Paul Theroux.” —Los Angeles Times 

“I am an old admirer of Ronald Wright's work. He writes brilliantly and with a very uncommon level of empathy and sensitivity...No one is better at showing how the past infuses, and, in most cases, continues to blight the present.” —Larry McMurtry

Other titles by Ronald Wright