At the Moon's Inn, first published in 1941, provides a fictional account of De Soto's famous Spanish expedition to La Florida and through the southeastern United States between 1539 and 1543. The novel begins in Spain in 1538, where De Soto and his chief lieutenants, veterans of the campaigns in South America, pledge themselves to a new enterprise to explore and exploit La Florida. The narrative follows them on their voyage to Cuba, where they rest and obtain additional supplies, then set sail for the area now known as Tampa Bay. Lytle's brilliant historical novel takes the readers with the conquistadores through the hot, humid land, where despite their advantage in military technology they found they must rely on the Indians for food. The author explores the cultural confrontation that seriously weakened the Indians, while the Spaniards' dreams of gold gradually turned to hopes of survival in the hostile environment.
Drawing his facts from the 1939 United States De Soto Commission Report and from the surviving historical chronicles of the expedition, Lytle weaves a fascinating tale that brings to life the history of Spanish efforts to establish a controlling presence in the New World during the first half of the 16th century.
In his introduction, Douglas Jones places At the Moon's Inn within the context of the documentary record, as well as within the framework of its distinguished author's career.