In 1539, the priest Marcos de Niza was sent by Coronado to explore unknown lands north of "New Spain". He returned with a report on the Seven Cities of Cibola, fabled "cities of gold". More than four hundred and fifty years later, Kevin Scott, an archaeologist working for a land developer, is told to investigate the route on which de Niza led Coronado's expedition. Scott discovers documents which prove that de Niza, whose account was discredited, was neither a liar nor a fraud, but a victim of others' greed. But Scott's boss only wants to be abe to tell investors that the proposed site of "Coronado Estates" is "historically important"...but not so important that development can't proceed. As Scott becomes ever more frustrated in his attempts to make public his findings, what started as suggestions from the company turn to threats and violence. Hartmann uses actual letters and reports by de Niza, Coronado and Cortes to create a novel with the texture of living history. Culminating with the betrayal of de Niza in the sixteenth century and the modern betrayal of Kevin Scott, the result is a powerful indictment of greed and ambition.
William K. Hartmann, first winner of the Carl Sagan Medal, is the author of the novel Mars "Underground "and many highly regarded popular and academic scientific works; his photo-essay book, " Desert Heart," is a hauntingly beautiful testament to the Southwest he loves. A planetary scientist, he lives in Tucson, Arizona.