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Well, I just finished. Wow! I'm totally floored. What a truly remarkable book. Definitely one of the best books I have ever read. I laughed, I cried (especially at the end - the tears were running down my face the last 20 pages or so - the descent and eventual fall of Tenochitlan was horrifying and sad, but Mixtli's end was tragic, just tragic), I marveled, I was dumbfounded and astounded, I was outraged. I learned something, and I was unbelievably entertained. I simply loved this book. For such a long book, there was not one part I thought dragged or got dull. Sometimes at the end of a really long book, even if it's good, you're just kind of ready for it to be over. Once I got about 3/4 of the way through, I started to dread the moment I read the last page, and now that I have, I'm sad to not have it to look forward to anymore.
Some random thoughts, in no particular order -
* Aaackk! I am completely furious with those ass Bishops. They executed Mixtli????? Seriously? After he was commissioned by the King to give a history of himself and the Mexica? And to top it all off, they burned him as a heretic?? I'm completely stunned and outraged. I certainly hope the King punished those horrible men. The King, obviously, came to like Mixtil through his story. I hope King Carlos was as outraged as I was! I can only imagine Beu withered away and died a long, slow painful death, no doubt wondering why Mixtli had abandoned her. Who knows? Perhaps he had time to tell her what was happening and to arrange for someone to care for her before he was thrown in jail and executed. It's just sickening!
* Aha! I knew Beu really loved Mixtli and covered it for many years with behaviours Mixtil could easily interpret to mean she despised him. However, I think she gave enough hints along the way, and that Mixtli was a dunce for missing them. One of the saddest moments at the end was when she finally revealed her feelings to Mixtli, and he realized how much he had missed over the years.
* Cortes was quite a piece of work. I wonder how accurate the book's portrayal of him was - a self-serving villian, acting on no official orders other than his own greed, and in fact acting in direct violation of the orders given to him by the governor of Cuba. A brilliant man to be sure, but pretty much an awful one. He did a lot of crap, but I thought one of the lowest was taking the three remaining Reverend Speakers on his journey south and then trumping up charges against them and having them executed. Good lord. That was low! And poor Mixtli unwittingly providing testimony through his drawing. I can only imagine how he suffered wondering if the three speakers thought that he had participated in their trial willingly.
* The whole conquest of Mexica was just so sad. Of course, it's not anything new, but to read about it from the standpoint of the Mexica just really drove home how awful "the white man" can be. We all know the same thing happened in countries all over the world, including our own. Such a tragedy that people couldn't work together for the mutual benefit of all rather than destroy what is foreign to them in the guise of making life better for the other guy.
I have so many thoughts, but I must go make dinner. Hoping to read what others think. We haven't had a ton of discussion, but maybe we will once we're all done.
Oh, BTW, what did you all make of Beu telling Mixtli that when she caught him with Malinche and said he was uttering Nochipa's name along with Zyanya's? Do you think he did have relations with his daughter or at least harbored fantasies about it? The man did have incest in his background after all.
Overall, I thought for the time and culture in which he lived, Mixtli was a very upstanding man, full of compassion, integrity, pride, intelligence. Sure there were the incidences of incest, the murder of Motecuzoma, some random violence, maiming and killing, but like I say, considering the time and the culture . . . .
Anyway, everyone please hurry and finish and post your thoughts!
Last Edited on: 3/4/10 4:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
BTW, I am now very anxious to read The Feathered Serpant by Colin Falconer. I understand it gives a different version of Malinche and portrays her in a more flattering light. Now, the question is, when to get to it.
Okay, I answered my own question as to when to get to Feathered Serpant. The answer was, last night! LOL! I tried getting into The Book Thief, but naw. Too "artsy" of a writing style for my taste. So, TFS it was. Here's a cut and paste from another thread -
So, I guess I wasn't ready to leave old Mexico, so I picked up Colin Falconer's Feathered Serpant, which covers the same time period and a lot of the same chast of characters of Aztec. I was very tempted to pick up Aztec's sequel, Aztec Autumn, and I did read the first few pages and was drawn in, but I'm nervous considering Colleen's warnings that the rest of the books in the series don't come close to being as excellent as Aztec. So, I figured Feathered Serpant would be a good choice. I understand that it presents a different and more flattering portrayal of the woman Malintzin/Malinchine/Malinali (the woman of many names) than Aztec, which portrayed her as a scheming traitor. Apparently she remains a controversial figure to this day, both reviled as a traitor and revered as the mother of the modern day people of Mexico. Anyway, I think it was a good move to start it right after Aztec as I immediately knew what was going on, I knew who was who for the most part, I knew things without having to be told, etc. So far, it looks like it's going to be good, although I highly doubt it will be near the level that Aztec is.
Last Edited on: 3/4/10 4:56 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Oh, The Feathered Serpent by Falconer is one of my favorites! An excellent choice, Shelley! Obviously, it's not as detailed as Aztec, but you'll enjoy reading a totally different take on Malintzin. Definitely let me know what you think about it!
I'm a little behind in my Aztec reading again. Not my fault though because I had a little accident. I fell off the deck and broke my tailbone! Since then, I've been in a haze of butt pain and painkillers, lol. My darling son thinks it's hilarious and is now calling me "Broke Butt Mom". Charming, isn't he? Yeah.
Ouch, Valli! It must hurt to break your butt!! It's not even the type of injury where you can enjoy sitting and reading while you recover!
I finished up Aztec last night. Like you, Shelley, I loved this book!! The best part of the book, to me, was how Jennings was able to so fully pull you into the book that no matter what happened, you couldn't wait to read more! Incest, rape, murder, human sacrifice......all of this could have really turned you off to the book, except for the fact that Mixtli is so convincing and likeable that you want to keep reading no matter what happens!
The ending was so tragic and contained so many ironies - especially after earlier Mixtli had talked about what a horrible death burning was. Yet, he endured it so bravely, earning a "Flowery Death" like he said he would as a child. And also that he and Beu finally admitted their love for each other, and the Christians left her to die so tragically alone. You definitely called this one, Shelley!
Other than Mixtli, who was everyone's favorite characters in the book? I like Cozcatl - the things he endured for Mixtli and yet he still loved him so! And, I have to admit, Chiamli - the way he kept popping up; he was persistant! Of course, I hated him, but the book did such a good job of making you hate him!
After reading the whole book, I still think Tzitzilini becoming tapir woman was one of the most poignant moments for me.
I also just did a bit of googling, and did you know that Jadestone Doll really existed?
Last Edited on: 3/4/10 3:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
No one else has finished?
I just finished Feathered Serpant by Colin Falconer, and if you haven't read it, I recommend it. Same time period and events, but told in a totally different style and from different perspectives. Aztec gives you a great background for it. Falconer's style is much sparser than Jennings'. I posted a long, rambling comparison of the two in the "March Madness - What Cha Reading This Month" thread.