A Book Review – AZTEC

2015 Book Review Kirby Vickery March 2015

By Kirby Vickery from the March 2015 Edition

I’ve discovered that when most people think of the Aztec Culture as lofty pyramids and human sacrifice to a ruling priestly society which demanded that sort of thing. It was destroyed by the Spaniards in the early part of the fifteen hundreds partially by the Conquistadores with their follow-on priests and Catholic religious orders. But mostly by European diseases which came with them. If you think real hard you can remember being taught that their head god was thought to have returned as Hernando Cortez. Oh yes, they had lotsa gold and jewels which the Spanish were after and there was a mythical city somewhere made of it.

What I’ve fallen love with since I’ve been writing about their mythology is their society in general. These people are the folks that gave the world corn and chocolate and thought that a Spaniard on a horse was one animal half human and half strange four legged beast. Their society had the largest cities in the world at their time. Basically their society was composed of many city states and there was a warrior caste but other than that they were an agricultural society whose people were held close to their mythology by that priestly band at the top of their social and ideological hierarchy. They had layers and layers of social strata to include slavery at the bottom to God-Kings at the top.

Author Gary Jennings had to have gone through and learned the Aztec way of life from the various surviving ‘Codex’s left by the Spanish monks of the era. His style could be termed as being American Modern while the book is a highly researched Historical Fiction.

The book follows an Aztec’s journey through life from being born into poverty to becoming a very rich trader to that of an old man captured by the Spanish and forced to recount his life of both good times and bad within the lands of the Aztec Empire. The protagonist, ‘Mixtli,’ leaves nothing out of his travels as a warrior, a trader, and a scribe within Montezuma’s kingdom.

Aztec was the first of four novels published in 1980 about Aztec life which Gary Jennings wrote. These were followed by one more which was written by his former editor from his notes. Jennings is also known for writing some science fiction and children’s short story. He passed in 1999. This is an exciting adventure book. It is something to curl up with for several nights as it is a thick book and is thoroughly enjoyable. Watch out for the blood and gore though because that was all part of being an Aztec.

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