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   Virgin of the Sun, The, by George Griffith  
  Nonfiction, first publication in 1898
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      It is a somewhat curious fact, especially in these days when books are many and subjects hard to seek, that none of our great historical novelists on either side of the Atlantic should have done for the Conquest of Peru what Lew Wallace in America and Rider Haggard in England have done for the Conquest of Mexico. And yet surely Pizarro is as picturesque a character as Cortez, and certainly the achievements of the devoted little band of heroes who braved with him the terrors of the then unknown Sea of the South, who starved with him in Hunger Harbour and on the desolate shores of Gallo, who followed him across those colossal mountain-bulwarks which guarded the golden Empire of the Incas, who seized a conquering monarch in the midst of his victorious army and put him to death as a common criminal, bordered much more closely on miracle than did those of Cortez and his followers. It was in this belief that I visited Peru with the intention of traversing the route of the Conquerors and obtaining those impressions, generically described as local colour, which can only be acquired on the spot. Marvellous as the story had seemed when read at home in the pages of Prescott, it became almost incredible after I had traversed the same wildernesses and scaled the same passes, many of them higher than the highest peak of the Alps, over which Pizarro had led his little army to the most wonderful conquest in the history of War. I am only too painfully aware how far my story falls short of the splendour and wonder of its subject, but that very splendour and wonder must be my apology. For the rest, so far as the demands of fiction have permitted, I have adhered to fact. All the characters are historical with the exception of Nahua, who lives in legend rather than in history, and the two Pallas, or wise women, who are inventions of my own. In the conversations I have reproduced as far as possible the exact words of the Conquerors, as recorded in the chronicles of their contemporaries, and if I have succeeded in making any of these wonder-workers live again, if only for an hour or two, in the reader's mind, I shall have achieved all the success that I can venture to hope for.

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  • War

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