Malinalli of the Fifth Sun: The Slave Girl Who Changed the Fate of Mexico and Spain by Helen Heightsman Gordon is a historical fiction novel taking place in South America during Hernán Cortés’ time. Malinalli was an important person in Cortés’ entourage who has been vilified throughout the ages.
Born to a high class family, Malinalli's life take a turn to worst when her beloved father dies. Her stepfather intends on harming her, but instead sells her to slavery. In 1519, Malinalli becomes one of 20 slaves given to Conquistador Hernán Cortés and starts her Christian life as Marina or Doña Marina.
Not only beautiful, but also a gifted translator, Malinalli becomes in integral part of Cortés' professional and personal life. In fact Cortés and Mailinalli become such an integral part of each other that they were referred to by the same name --La Malinche.
The story is told through various viewpoints: Cortés', Malinalli’s family, and acquaintances, but mainly of Malinalli since this is her story. Since the history is complex, even though the story spans a relatively short time (about 16 years) there are parts of the book which simply read as a history book (albeit a very interesting one) in order to move he story faster.
The main reason I found that the author chose to tell the story thorough various points of view, especially those whom I think are not actual historical characters (village traders, wife of a chief, etc.) is to introduce the reader into early culture, religion, and traditions of the indigenous Mexican people. The author brought up points in the book which, through the story, give the reader some food for thought. For example, the Spanish trying to Christianize the locals, claiming their G-d is the one true G-d and bashing idol worshiping. They broke and disgraced the locals’ idols only to replace them with their own idols.