Book Review: Aztec – Gary Jennings

51vhjwi2bq2lAlmost by the end of the past year, some friends and I set some goals for this 2016. One of those was to read one book every four weeks (the other one was to do at least 30 mins of exercise a day…).

My first book for the year was Aztec by Gary Jennings (ISBN 978-0765317506). This is like the third time I read it and just as the very  first time I did when I was in college, I still find it fascinating!

The story is told from the eyes and voice of Mixtli, an inhabitant of the Mexica empire that had the fortuitous fate of being a writer, merchant and warrior throughout his life and gives us a wonderful portrait of the last years of the powerful and wary Mexica empire, its traditions and customs until its fall at the hands of the Spanish conquerors.

Despite being a book of historical fiction, the extensive story is quite vivid and provides a deep, well sourced background regarding the economic, military and sociopolitical organization of the empire and its relationships with the other two empires of the Triple Alliance and adjacent tribes.

The author went above and beyond the basic ideas of the religious rites and ceremonies to explain profoundly the beliefs and the reasoning for such events that go from having the younger girls perform a dance at the moonlight to please the rain god Tlaloc, to the complex ritual of the rebirth and fertility for the god Centeotl.

Far from being a tedious description of all of these, the main character and narrator lives them and we with him as we read about all his joy, pain, sadness, anger and sufferings through all the things that could happen in a lifetime, treason, love, blood, sex and his uncountable treks through the country.

Without any doubt, is one of my favorites.


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