This book was recommended to me by a terrific tour guide when I was traveling in Mexico. It is a great read of historic fiction and really gives you a feeling of the Aztec culture. Terrific! I\'m looking forward to reading the other books by Gary Jennings.
An absolute masterpiece. I have read this historical novel of ancient Aztec culture 3 times in the past decade and am enthralled each time. Jennings performes everything with master strokes: completely real characterizations; plot lines that evolve in unique but fully believable ways; intense pathos; hundereds of details that prove his commitment to research and colorization of time period; a style that is facinating to read and rings true in the first person of the main character. The structure brings the reader into the life-recollections of this Aztec merchant, soldier, trader, diplomat and advisor to kings leading to a climax of vivid tragedy. Ultimately sad as a chronicle of the death of a culture but not without humor and moments of wry comment on human foibles. I have recommended this book to all my relatives and many others. This one will stay with you forever.
This novel, despite its years, is enchanting and captivating; I could not put it down, and rushed to read its sequel, Aztec Autumn. It immerses you in an imagined lost world, the Mexican peninsula before the Spanish conquest, and it paints a sophisticated and learned culture utterly destroyed by the heedless conquistadors. If you love well written, well researched historical fiction, or to learn about a long ago time, you will love this book.
It's a great story told in a very magnetic atmosphere that keeps you riveted to the pages. Sometimes it seems that you are there in the past where history unfolds itself. There are many amusings insights into the pretensions and prejudices of one culture over another. If you like historical fiction with more than a grain of truth, you will enjoy this read.
If you love historical fiction, you will LOVE this book so much that you will not lend it to anyone. This is my most favorite historical fiction (my favorite genre anyhow) book of all time, and I am 56. I've read this book at least five times. Having been given the grace of attending an alternate high school that was run like a university, I had chosen to study, for History, the history of the Conquest. Oh, heavens! What happened when the Spaniards came to the Americas changed the entire world, forever.
Let's pretend that you do not like studying history. It's good then to find historical fiction on your topic. Gary Jennings, I could tell from my past studies, had a very thorough knowledge of the tribes of middle America, those that were conquered by Hernando Cortez, on a search for riches. Because the natives of middle America believed that their god would come back someday, on a boat, they thought that the Spaniards brought their god back to them, and then, so many, many mistakes happened!
This book starts with a letter by the King of Spain back in the 1500s (Juan Carlos, the king that had funded Cortez's conquest), requesting that the Catholic friars that raped the middle native Americans of their religious beliefs after Cortez stole their gold, find a living Aztec so that he, the king, could find out what the Americans' lives were like before Cortez ever landed on the Yucatan and headed into the interior of Mexico. Since very few Azteca lived after the conquest of what is now Mexico City, only one was found who daily explained to the friars the truths of his culture.
This book is absolutely fascinating. The one other book that is historical fiction that I've read more than twice is "Centennial" by James Michener. I heartily advise that if you can, get Aztec in a format that you can look at the maps provided on the hardcover's interior. They MIGHT BE on a page in a softcover paperback, but I do not know.
This book may have taken me longer to read than any I can remember. It got to the point where people who know me would see me with it and say, Wow, youre STILL reading that?
Admittedly, its over 1000 pages but still!
After such a time-investment, one might like to feel a sense of literary accomplishment (or something) but no. This was definitely the trashiest 1000+ pages I have ever read.
I got the distinct impression that before sitting down to write the book, Jennings made a list of all the taboo topics, assorted acts of violence, and sexual perversions he could think of and said, OK, were gonna get all these into the book, somehow. And he did.
The book is framed as the story of the life of Mixtli, an aged member of the Mexica tribe, which he tells to the Spanish Inquisition, on the order of the King of Spain. This of course, gives plenty of opportunity for the Spanish priests to comment on how shocking Mixtlis doings are in case the reader hadnt noticed. From humble origins (and a forbidden sexual relationship with his sister), Mixtli rises to a significant position in the Aztec empire (and wanders about having all sorts of adventures), before the arrival of Cortez, and his peoples subsequent fall. (which is actually portrayed quite well, I thought.) My main issue with the book is that all the shocking content is not portrayed in the interest of describing (or even exploiting) different cultural mores most of the stuff (although not all) is described as taboo in Mixtlis society too. And its all done from the point of view of things that would be shocking to a Westerner, not shocking to an Aztec. Jennings was playing with his readers not his story.
That said, I cannot deny that the book was entertaining all the way through.
Fabulous! I've read it twice. Prepare for a journey into the past of Mexico. The book covers 1529-1531 as the narrator, Mixtli, records his knowledge of the past of his own tribe as well as others. Thus, the actual history covered starts about 50 years prior to 1529.
This is the story of a man and his people. It is the story of Mixtli, who rises for above his lowly station to distinguish himself as a scribe and later a warrior. He earns a fortune as a traveling merchant, explores every part of what the Aztexs called the One World--the far lands of mountains, jungles, deserts, seacoasts.
Wit Mixtli we experience blood - drenched but awesomely grand sacrificial ceremonies; we encounter other blood-curdling forms of violence; we suffer the shattering personal tragedies with which the gods have ordained that Mixtli must pay for the honors and riches that he earns; and we meet love and sexuality in numerous varieties, from the forbidden first love of his childhood to the ghastly proclivities of a cruel queen, to the great, enduring, and tragic love of his life.
I really had a difficult time getting into this book. I didn't get through 50 pages before I put it down and said forget it. The dialog was pretty tedious. I think it would be better to listen to on audio, at least for me. It has gotten great reviews, so, who am I to judge. Definitely give it a try. I can read just about anything, and this just didn't do it for me.
Truly an amazing, wonderful book! I laughed, I cried, I was shocked and offended, outraged and enchanted. I learned something and was thoroughly entertained the entire time. This book is not for the feint of heart! You get incest, rape and all sorts of sex. There's cannibalism, pagan rituals, human sacrifice, and all sorts of violence and gore. You also get beautiful storytelling and moments of magic, tenderness and wonder. The utter destruction of the Aztec (Mexica) people by Hernan Cortes and his fellow Spaniards was a tragic, sad waste. Yet another dark chapter in the history of the world. The main character is wonderful. Truly an amazing man. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Pick it up if you're up for an amazing adventure.
A sweeping saga of love, loss, and war, Gary Jenning's lengthy novel pulled me in from the first page. The story follows the life of Mixtli, a man of the Mexica people, who were descended from the Aztecs and lived in "The Heart of the One World" - Tenochtitlan. When Spanish conquistadors (led by Cortes) take over what we now call Mexico, they enlist Mixtli, near the end of his life, to tell the story of the Mexica to the Spanish king. Mixtli is a powerful voice - engaging, often humorous, and sparing no detail, no matter how gory or sexually taboo. It really doesn't seem like this novel is over 1000 pages - I never forgot plot details and it read so smoothly. I thought it gave great insight as to the culture, the reign of the man we call Montezuma, and how the Spanish were able to conquer Mexico. An amazing book.