Authors: Bear Grylls
GOLD OF THE GODS
GOLD OF THE GODS
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GOLD OF THE GODS
A RED FOX BOOK
First published in Great Britain by Red Fox,
an imprint of Random House Children's Books
A Random House Group Company
This edition published 2008
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Copyright © Bear Grylls, 2008
Written by Bear Grylls and Richard Madden
The right of Bear Grylls to be identified as the author of this work has been
asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
This electronic book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
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A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
This book is for Marmaduke,
my precious youngest son, and another
apple of Papa's eye! I hope you enjoy this
and one day we'll live such an
At last the rain had almost stopped. The
rhythmic drumming on the jungle canopy
far above had faded to a distant murmur.
Only the sullen
drip, drip, drop
splashing into muddy pools disturbed the
silence as a single shaft of sunlight broke
through into the rainforest below.
Peering through the gloom, an inquisitive
troop of howler monkeys clung to the lower
branches of the trees. Their gaze followed
the bright line of sunlight to where a
bedraggled shape lay spread-eagled in a pool
of light on the jungle floor. Every few
minutes one let out a bloodcurdling bark
and violently shook the branch on which it
But the monkeys were beginning to lose
interest in this strange hairless ape that lay so
deathly still beneath them. This was no longer
fun. When they had first begun hurling sticks
down from the trees above, the hairless ape
had tried to defend itself against the barrage of
missiles. Once it had even barked back at
them in their own language. But now it lay as
unmoving as a lump of earth, no longer of
interest. The time had come to move on.
As the noise of the monkeys slowly faded
into the distance, a sigh that sounded
almost human escaped from the inert form.
Playing dead was not a survival strategy
Beck Granger would normally use.
Especially with a bumptious group of young
howler monkeys. But with his body on the
brink of exhaustion, he badly needed to
look after what little energy he had left.
And somewhere not far off, a far worse
threat still lurked. There was only one lord
in the jungles of Colombia's Sierra Nevada
mountains and it was not human. As night
began to fall, the mighty jaguar, king of the
jungle cats, would be patrolling his territory
All day long the young teenager had felt
his spirit stagger under the combined
assault of rain and heat and hunger.
Drawing on every ounce of strength he still
possessed, and using every shred of
knowledge gleaned in a childhood spent
learning the ways of survival, he had pushed
himself onwards. Against all the odds he
was still alive, and somewhere out there was
the goal he was searching for.
In his fevered sleep he had come face to
face with the Indian once more. He remembered
the first time he had seen those
gleaming eyes. How long ago it now
seemed. The carnival. The twins. Don
Gonzalo. That extraordinary night in the
square. The start of the desperate quest to
find the Lost City.
And then he remembered. Around his
neck hung a muddied amulet in the shape
of a golden toad, its eyes glistening in the
sunlight, its mouth wide open. Adrenalin
surged through Beck's veins. He still had
one final chance.
Taking a long deep breath, he put the
amulet to his lips.
Beck Granger strode onto the balcony of
the five-star Hotel Casa Blanca and let out a
low whistle. 'This,' he muttered under his
breath, 'is unreal.' Cheered on by a boisterous
crowd, an endless procession of carnival
floats was flowing out of the narrow
cobbled streets into the main square below.
Effigies of men with extravagant
moustaches wearing doublets and ruffs
swayed unsteadily above the crowd, while
every few minutes a roar of approval went
up as a particularly spectacular float came
into view. Cartagena's annual carnival was
in full swing and the strains of salsa, congo,
rumba and Caribbean steel bands floated up
on the breeze.
Behind Beck, in the ballroom from
which he had just emerged, the scene could
hardly have been more different. Elegantly
dressed dignitaries chatted in small groups
as waiters in starched whites passed silently
between them. A four-piece string quartet
was playing a jaunty waltz. Beck vaguely
recognized the tune from his uncle's stodgy
old classical music collection.
'Cool!' he muttered for the umpteenth
time that day. Colombia was certainly a
different country. It was also a different
world. His mind spun back to the previous
week. No more drizzly mornings trudging
into breakfast along the school avenue. No
more Mr Braintree and double maths for a
whole month. And Mrs Armington
(Armour Plating, as the boys always called
her) would have to make do with screaming
at the pigeons in the school quadrangle now
that the boys had broken up for the Easter
holidays. Beck's grin almost hurt.
Beck shook himself out of his daydream.
The identical faces of two teenagers beamed
mischievously back at him. The words had
emerged simultaneously from under two
matching mops of brown curls, high cheekbones
and arching eyebrows. If it hadn't
been for the huge gold rings dangling from
the ears of the face on the right, he would
have sworn he was seeing double.
After just twenty-four hours in South
America, Beck had already picked up a
handful of useful Spanish phrases, but there
was no danger yet of being mistaken for a
local. Luckily the twins' English was a little
more advanced. They had only met for the
first time the previous day, when the twins
and their father had greeted Beck and his
uncle at the airport. Even so, he already felt
like one of the family.
'I hope you're enjoying our little party,
Señor Beck,' said Marco. 'That's such neat
timing, you and your uncle coming to stay
with us right now. Our carnival is the best –
we Colombians know how to party. But
come back inside – Dad is about to make
his speech. Now we can find out what this
is all about.'
'And the reason you and your uncle are
both here,' added Christina. 'Isn't it a bit
odd he hasn't told you why?'
'I've learned not to ask questions,' replied
Beck wearily. 'Uncle Al tells me patience is a
virtue. He likes to keep his projects secret
during term time. So I don't get distracted
from my school work. Or so he tells me.'
Christina led the way back into the ballroom,
where the string quartet had stopped
playing and a hush had fallen over the
expectant crowd. Snaking their way through
the guests, they made their way across the
huge room. Beck saw that his uncle was
chatting animatedly to a small group
of VIPs. Judging by the half-empty
champagne glass in one hand and the fat
Cuban cigar in the other, he was enjoying
being the centre of attention.
Now in his mid-sixties, Professor Sir Alan
Granger was one of the world's most
respected anthropologists. Over the years
his studies of tribal peoples had become
classic texts, compulsory reading for
university students around the world. More
recently his appearance on the judging
panel of a TV reality show had made him a
household name in the UK.
But to Beck he would always just be plain
Uncle Al. More at home examining bits of
charred bone at the bottom of a pit or fragments
of parchment under a microscope
than hobnobbing with the rich and famous.
Uncle Al had been Beck's guardian ever
since that terrible day when the headmaster
had sent for him and told him the dreadful
news: Beck's parents were missing,
presumed dead. Their light plane had
crashed in the jungle, the wreckage spread
for miles around. Their bodies had never
been found and the reason for the plane
crash never explained.
Over the three years since the tragic death
of his parents, Beck had grown very close to
his Uncle Al and now thought of him like a
second father. For months Beck had been
inconsolable, but his Aunt Kathy and Uncle
Al's never-say-die view of life – together
with some terrific home cooking
– had gradually revived his spirits.
Like most of the Granger family, Uncle
Al had been a wanderer all his life. His work
frequently took him to remote wildernesses
around the world for months at a time, but
whenever this coincided with the school
holidays, he always invited Beck along. And
on more than one occasion he'd had reason
to be thankful for the teenager's survival
Already, at the age of just thirteen, Beck
knew more about the art of survival than
most military experts learned in a lifetime.
David Granger, Beck's father, had been the
Special Operations Director of Green Force,
the environmental direct action group, and
the family had lived with remote tribes in
many of the world's most extreme places,
from Antarctica to the African bush.
Just a few weeks before the end of term
Beck had received an email sent by satellite
phone from a remote location somewhere in
the Amazon. Uncle Al had been invited
by the Mayor of Cartagena to join him and
his family for the Easter holidays in
Colombia. A plane ticket had been booked
and Beck was to fly out the day after term
Beck guessed the invitation meant more
than just a holiday in the sun, but Uncle Al
had chosen not to explain. After spending a
rainy afternoon in the school library
locating Colombia on a map of South
America and then scouring the Internet,
Beck had finally tracked down some more
information about the mysterious Mayor of
Mayor Rafael de Castillo, who he now
knew better as the father of Marco and
Christina, was the direct descendant of
Don Gonzalo de Castillo, a famous
conquistador. Gonzalo had sailed with
Christopher Columbus on his voyages of
discovery to the New World. He was
famous as the founder of Cartagena, had
become fabulously wealthy, and had died in
mysterious circumstances after an
expedition into the nearby Sierra Nevada
By now Beck and the twins had at last
managed to squeeze their way to within a
couple of metres of the podium at one end
of the Hotel Casa Blanca's magnificent ballroom.
As they jostled for a better view of the
speakers, there was a squeal of feedback and
the amplified rumble of someone clearing
Señoras y señores
,' boomed a disembodied
A polite round of applause followed the
introduction of the mayor, and the twins'
father stepped up to the microphone. A tall
man with dark, well-groomed hair, Don
Rafael reminded Beck of an old-fashioned
Hollywood star from the black and white
era. Don Rafael was clearly an experienced
public speaker. Every now and then a smile
would break out on the faces of the guests,
followed by an eruption of laughter around
'He always tells that one,' Christina
shouted into Beck's ear during one
particularly loud outburst. 'Watch – he'll
stroke his moustache now. He always does
that when he's feeling pleased with himself.'
Marco and Christina doubled up in a
fit of giggles as Don Rafael duly obliged.
The crowd fell silent once more as the
serious expression on the mayor's face
indicated that he was reaching the climax of
his speech. With a theatrical flourish of his
arm, he gestured towards a huge oil painting
hanging in an ornate gilt frame on the oakpanelled
wall behind him. The subject of
the portrait, a man roughly the same age as
Don Rafael himself, was wearing doublet
and hose and looking out from the battlements
of a harbour wall. His right hand
gestured towards a fleet of warships under
full sail, their pennants fluttering in the
In a flash Beck realized who the subject of
the portrait must be. As the twins' father
struck up the same regal pose, the great conquistador
Gonzalo de Castillo, founder of
Cartagena, rose from beyond the grave.
Once more the ballroom burst into
'Spot the family resemblance?' shouted
Marco above the noise. 'I'd recognize that
nose anywhere. Luckily Dad hasn't passed it
on to us.'
'I hope he hasn't invited all these people
here to tell them he fancies himself as a conquistador,'
added Christina. 'That would be
As the applause died down once more,
Beck recognized the words '
'. All eyes turned towards
Uncle Al, who acknowledged his host and
the crowd with a polite bow. Beneath the
trademark eccentricity that the TV audience
had found so endearing – a 'bumbling
favourite uncle in a panama hat', as one
critic had described him – was one of the
sharpest brains of his generation.
Don Rafael was speaking quickly now
and the silence of the audience and the
expectant look on the faces around him
reflected his enthusiasm. But it was only
when the mayor uttered the words 'El
Dorado' that Beck realized something out
of the ordinary was in the air. The look on
the twins' faces said it all as their mouths fell
open in amazement. The mayor continued
to address the gathering, his voice growing
'My father thinks he knows where to find
the Lost City,' whispered Marco, hardly
able to breathe. 'It was found in the jungle
by a small group of conquistadors under
Gonzalo and then lost again for centuries.
No one has ever known where to look.
'And your uncle is here to help us find it,'
added Christina. 'The expedition has been
kept secret until now, but all the arrangements
have been made and it will be ready
to leave next week.'
'Welcome to Colombia,