Historical novelist Gary Jennings returns to the time and place of his international bestseller Aztec one generation after the conquistadors have all but destroyed the culture. The once-shining capital city of Tenochtitlan has been renamed Mexico City. Eighteen-year-old Tenamaxtli, the novel's hero, has traveled with his mother from the northern region, where they have been kept abreast of the progress of the malignant, marauding, disease-bearing Spanish. In the course of witnessing the execution of an old Aztec, Tenamaxtli's mother reveals that the victim is, in fact, her son's father. Everything is in place for vengeance, and over the novel's next several years, Tenamaxtli organizes an ill-fated insurrection, enjoying many sexual adventures along the way. |
Told plainly and at some remove, Jennings has reserved the fancier footwork for an excursion into Aztec culture, creating a detailed tapestry of a struggling, vanquished race. Readers familiar with Mexican history will welcome the rich details of this vengeance drama; those new to it will be impressed by Jennings's exhaustive research.
The narrative reads like a journal, its language meant to evoke some generic past. Perhaps this is a distancing device, allowing readers to focus on the rich weave of cultural and historic elements rather than the carnage, cruelty, and genocide that characterize this unhappy piece of Mexican history.
We return at last to the bygone world of the Aztecs, to a time when their great empire has fallen beneath the brutal heel of the invading Spanlards. But one proud young Aztec, Tenamaxtil, refuses to bow to the foreign conquerors. He starts an incredible rebellion that forms a forgotten chapter in history--a story now brought to life in all its splendor and unforgettable passion.