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Aztec is the extraordinary story of the last and greatest native civilization of North America. Told in the words of one of the most robust and memorable characters in modern fiction, Mixtli-Dark Cloud, Aztec reveals the very depths of Aztec civilization from the peak and feather-banner splendor of the Aztec Capital of Tenochtitlan to the arrival of Hern¨¢n Cort¨¢s and his conquistadores, and their destruction of the Aztec empire. The story of Mixtli is the story of the Aztecs themselves---a compelling, epic tale of heroic dignity and a colossal civilization¡¯s rise and fall.
- Comedy, drama, pathos, sex, violence, satire and political commentary!
In a word, Jennings' monumental work on the Aztec empire is outstanding. A simultaneous success on multiple fronts, Aztec is a gut-wrenching drama, a romance, an epic family saga, a titillating R-rated tale that pulls absolutely no punches over blood, guts, gore and sex, a history of the downfall of one of the world's major historical cultures and, finally, a scathing political indictment of the Roman Catholic Church and the imperial policies of 15th century Spain! Wow!
Jennings discloses this tale through the first-person narration of Mixtli, an Aztec scribe and lord, held prisoner by the local bishop, Juan de Zum¨¢rraga, for the purpose of providing accurate information and history from the local point of view to King of Spain. The manner in which Mixtli reveals his story makes very clear Jennings' disgust over the rape, pillage, subjugation and ultimate destruction of the Aztec people, their culture and their religion by the Roman Catholic Church and the military forces of Hernando Cort¨¦s. But Jennings also allows Mixtli full rein when it comes to expressing his dismay over the Aztec's own responsibilities and failures - the division of Mexico into near feudal mini-nations that allowed Cort¨¦s to pick them off, one tiny piece at a time, and through political maneuvering to set one nation against another; the spying and machinations of Malintzin, Aztec Mexico's own Mata Hari; and the vague, ineffective leadership of a procrastinating, equivocating Montezuma who failed time and time again to grasp opportunities that would have repelled the Spanish invasion once and for all!
In the foreground of this magnificent, sprawling tapestry of Aztec history, Mixtli tells his own family story beginning with his birth as the son of a common warrior, his education as a scribe, his accumulation of magnificent wealth and, finally, his ascension to the position of Aztec lord and valued government councilor. And what a story it is - the sordid, tempestuous details of his incestuous love affair with his sister; the extraordinary manner in which he overcomes his extreme nearsightedness; his incredible mastery of dialect and language; the all-consuming love he held for his wife, Zyanya, and his daughter, Nochipa; his stupidity and utter blindness in failing to realize how deeply Zyanya's twin sister loved him as well; and, his exciting travels as an itinerant merchant and spy across Aztec Mexico and the Mayan empire in Central America. Mixtli's ongoing battle and gruesome revenge on Chim¨¢li, his one time best friend and ultimately his darkest enemy, will leave you slack-jawed with amazement!
Aztec is neither a short read nor a simple read! But you'll find it all here - comedy, drama, pathos, sex, violence, satire and political commentary. I guarantee you'll find that with every passing page, Jennings will pull you more and more deeply into Mixtli's magnificent but brutal Aztec world and, when you reach the final page, you'll be sorry it's over! Undoubtedly, a 5-star achievement!
- The Best There Is
I am incapable of formulating the proper words to do this book justice. It is an incredible feat of writing - taking the reader on an incredible, thrilling, informative, vivid, heart-wrenching, exhilirating journey. Do not be daunted by this books size (over 1100 pages) - just do yourself the extreme favor of picking up a copy and starting to read. You'll never want to put it down, nor will you want it to end. This is historical fiction at its absolute finest....more info
- Scarred for Life
I love this book. I love the immense historical details, the gorgeous use of language, the intense battle scenes and the passionate love. The book, however, is intensely graphic and erotic, at least compared to anything else I've read. Anita Blake can't top some of this crap. I don't read romances and I don't read erotica, but I do like a good story and I love historical fiction. I had to remind myself that this is Mesoamerica through the first half of the book, as it felt like some other world, excluding the occasional scene between the main character and the Spaniards, which I for one also enjoyed. I was also motivated to do more research on the subject, to see for myself the truth (or falsehood) of Jennings' words, though that is something one can do for one's self, not for me to detail here. On that note, the main character seems to, in a roundabout way, play a role in major historical events. He's even sometimes the catalyst or a guiding hand. Obviously, this character is fictitious, which has further driven my curiosity to find out more.
The only reason I give it four stars is due to the extent at which it horrified my brain, and for a few stale chapters. By that point in the book, it had become rather predictable to me. I could start to get a feel for when we were due for another scene of graphic violence or more sex. The plot was beautiful, but towards the second half it was regrettably just a little predictable. Still, there was a question of how such things would come about, and there are still a few severe shocks left in store. You don't read the book to find out who lives and who dies. You read it to find out how.
This was one of the very, very few books that had me so hooked that I actually felt moved by it, to laughter and tears and anger and joy. ...more info
This book is simply mesmerizing. One of my top 5 of all time!
Like all of Jennings's blockbuster books, it grabs you and holds on. You become so enmeshed with the characters that you don't want their story to end. Jennings had the gift of making his characters human--fallible and real.
His research must have been exhaustive, because when you finish this book, you feel a little disoriented in our own world--like you've actually been living in 16th Century Mexico, actually experienced Aztec life and the Spanish Conquest. You understand Aztec culture, their point of view. It's that real.
Yes, as in all of Jennings's books there are gruesome scenes, and plentiful-sometimes quirky-sex, but the same is true of real life.
I was just immersed in this book. Though I read it years ago, I'll never forget Mixtli and the others who inhabited his world.
Excellent reading from an amazing writer! ...more info
- Excellent read
I really like the Jennings books I now have and enjoy reading them over again. The stories and characters are realistic and believable, and seem based on actual events and people. I now continue my search for more of his work....more info
- I have yet to read anything quite like this
It's been many years since I read this novel, yet still, it is clear and vivid in my mind. I am grateful to have read this book early in my life, but at the same time I am disappointed that every book I have read since has been a let-down and has fallen short of my expectations. Nothing has yet matched this novel in its depth of story-telling, in its ability to stir emotions of all forms, in its ability to teach something worthy and inspiring, and in its ability to give life and memory and reverence for a people and history of which many are ignorant.
The feeling you get while reading this book, especially at the conclusion, is simply *wow*. This feeling comes very rarely: It is a profound awe that one usually feels when in the presence of greatness. It comes from the knowledge that you have read something that has a value beyond expression.
This book gave me a story that I will never forget, characters that I will remember as though a lost friend, a history whose remembrance is entitled to the victims, and a landscape of a world that comes back to me as clearly and as often as though I had read the book yesterday.
Entrancing and enthralling....more info
- The shortest long book I have ever read
This is a rare book - a gripping page-turner with dozens of plot twists and enough action to exhaust Jerry Bruckenheimer fans, while at the same time providing a window into an ancient culture that no longer exists. Using a simple, straight-forward story-telling style, with the narrator fortunate enough to be present at all the historically significant occasions of his time, Aztec is too entertaining to allow one to be churlish. It is a great read, loaded with sex and violent images (that I still recall ten years later) and which leaves you a little sad at the end of it all. The 'uncivilized' are eradicated by the 'civilized' and by the end of this wonderful book you may be wondering at the meanings of those words....more info
- One of the best historical novels ever written!
I heard that Jennings took 12 years to write this book.
It reads like a life work. Be warned: its ultra-violent but the gore is the truth. Anything less would be an insult to history.
I recently got a copy from the library and gave to a Mexican lady friend and told her she would learn the history of her ancestors from it. I hope she enjoys it like I did.
Great job, Jennings!...more info
- Give me more, Mr. Jennings! Please, I need more!!
Simply amazing!! I read peoples reviews who gave this book anything less than 4 stars, and surprise, surprise, most of their reviews on other books are extremely critical as well. Don't listen to them. If you have a passion for ancient cultures, are open minded and not easily offended, this book is for you! This man clearly did his research. Anyone who claims they could have predicted what life "really" would have been like in ancient Mexico, and thinks that there are discrepancies in this story has no way of proving it. Again, lets remind the critics that history is all interpretation. These differences can be so far as black and white. There is nothing wrong with filling in the blanks with your own marvelous imagination if you possess the talent for it, as Mr. Jennings obviously does.
Oh, and by the way, about the book being too long; it wasn't long enough! I wish it were 10,000 pages!...more info
- The Forrest Gump of the Aztec World
Ok, so I exaggerated a little in the title. The main character isn't mentally challenged like Forrest Gump. But he does have an uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time. Did you know that he even invented eyeglasses?
I am a huge fan of historical drama, and was looking forward to learning more about the Aztec world. I just couldn't get past the poor writing, which was bordering on the melodramatic. Don't even get me started on the almost laugh-out-loud bad sex scenes. One woman's vagina was referred to an an opening bud. Could the author get any more cliched?
It was a true test of will power for me to finish reading this book. I would give it 1/2 star if possible....more info
- Don't be fooled by the glowing reviews here
I can't for the life of me understand why so many people like this book so much. It's the worst piece ... I ever finished (Stephen King's It being the worst one I didn't bother finishing). If you know ANYthing about the Aztecs, you know that most of what happens in this book is absurd and stupid. There are so many better books, don't waste your money & time on this one. Go read Stephen King's The Stand....more info
- Marvelous and violent
This book is second to none. Excellent historical fiction. The first half is slow, but after that moves at the speed of light. A little heavy on sex and violence, and very graphic, so not recommended for the lighthearted. The characterization and sense of place are the best I have ever seen in a book.
I can't recommend it enough.
- lost civilization come alive
I read this excellent novel years ago and still remember its impact on me. I was entranced by Jennings' descriptions of peoples and empires long gone. His device of using a traveling merchant--pocheca--as his primary character was excellent. It gave Jennings the opportunity to take the reader to places and peoples distant from the capital in Tenochtitlan. His description of war, religion and human sacrifice is wonderful and reflects the obvious fact that Jennings carefully researched the subject.
I especially remember the merchant's horror to find that his daughter had, without his knowledge, been offered up to the horrific Flayed God, Xipe Totec. He sees her in the form of a bloody skin worn by a dancing priest. Here I must mention that there are revisionists who deny that these things--wholesale human sacrifice--actually happened in ancient Mexico--that they were inventions of the rapacious Spaniards to justify their conquest. I can remember visiting the National Museum in Mexico City where you can see Aztec ceremonial bowls used to hold human hearts; chacmools used for the same purpose; sacrificial knives; and even an effigy of Xipe Totec wearing a human skin like a garment. Nowhere, however, was there a mention of human sacrifice. Political correctness. Political stupidity.
In writing my own novels, "Skull Rack" and "Hummingbird God", on the Conquest of Mexico from the Spanish perspective, I'm delighted to say I was decidedly politically INCORRECT.
Ron Braithwaite ...more info
- An Incredible Epic Saga
Wow! One thousand and more pages of historical fiction surrounding the half-century leading up to the last days of the Aztec peoples. This story by Gary Jennings revolves around a single Aztec, or Mex¨ªcatl, named Mixtli, or Dark Cloud. He recounts the details of his life from his early child hood memories, to his rising through the ranks of Mex¨ªca working class and nobility, to the last days of the great Aztec empire as crushed by Hernan Cort¨¦s. The dense and long chapters/ramblings are occasionally interspersed with letters from the Christian priest, who supervises the transcribing of his stories, letters directed toward the King of Spain.
Know before you begin this book that it is more than 1000 pages long, and the pages are packed with many words. Unless you have several days to devote to reading it, do not expect to get through it in one sitting.
While this reviewer knows nothing about Aztec historical fact, the story presented here provides an enjoyable and exciting exploration into what the life of one Azt¨¦ca might have been like. The story is compelling and a worthwhile read. I've come away from the book wanting to explore more details of the real Aztec history, and perhaps this book will do so for many others as well. Underlining the latter third of the book, of course, is the reality that European conquerors decimated and destroyed a thriving and advanced culture all in the name of Manifest Destiny. You cannot walk away from this book without having to consider what would life in the new world, Mexico, North America, Canada, what would life have been like today for these cultures if white men had not so boldly and shamelessly invaded, conquered, decimated, and infiltrated their very lives? And of course, the next question becomes, Are we still doing more of the same but in a more palatable gloss of making the world safe for democracy?
This book, being published over two decades ago, clearly shows some of the influence of the late 70s/early 80s with it's rampant exploration of sexual themes, incest, fredom of the man to romp sexually through anyone and anything he desires. It also shows way too much influence of American culture. At it's best, the book is an entertaining and thoroughly developed plunge into an alternate and perhaps lost culture. At its worst, Jennings has given us an Aztec Forrest Gump. So many things seem to happen to our hero, Mixtli, that it becomes a bit unreal at times. He has a Revered Speaker (an Aztec King, or President) take a liking to him as a boy and choose to give him free education, He goes to war and happens to kill the most fearsome opponent even though he is extremely nearsighted, He more than once becomes a successful merchant by bringing to his community some of the most exotic trades ever found, He discovers the true origins of the Aztec peoples, He advances himself to nobility, and He even becomes Christian, of a sort. I never cared much for Forrest Gump, and have a difficult time stomaching similar characters. But, even so, this Mixtli Gump does usually earn his rewards in a detailed and satisfying manner. His cousin Forrest, on the other hand, is a joke =)
My most concerned criticism with this book is the assumption that the ancient culture is a reflection of the desires and values of American Capitalism. Too much of the Aztec way of life seems to be rooted in free trade (capitalism), a very defined nobility hierarchy, a warfaring and conquering daily life, and the premise that one can advance up through the hierarchy through a man's deeds, as our hero Mixtli does. Yes, there is a great deal of time spent on the details of the various celebrations and sacrifices which are a daily part of the culture, but the rest of the book seemed to be too much a reflection of western capitalism. I find it amusing that so many contemporary writers, historians, and scholars tend to impose a hierarchical system on ancient cultures. Why must they have noble classes, middle classes, and slaves? Why do they need to reflect our western economic structure? Why does everything need to be valued in terms of trade currency? Why must we assume that our way of life today is the penultimate system and that any previous great civilization by necessity MUST have had a similar structure to their lives? Where is the paradigm shift? There hasn't been one in 500 years of white occupation of Mexico? I don't think so.
Unfortunately, there is little to corroborate my concern with these details. As pointed out by Jennings' Mixtli, there is little, if any, evidence of the actual histories of the Aztecs, or Mex¨ªcatl, or whatever ancestors there once were.
The book gets three stars. It could have received four if it wasn't so over-laden with a capitalist and western overtones....more info
- Comparative to the BEST!
Having read what I consider one of the best epic novel series in existence, Stephen King's The Dark Tower Series, I have no quandries in saying that this novel in itself brings in every literary aspect that King adopts throughout the Tower series into roughly 1000 pages and in one book. If there was one book you should bring to a desserted island, Gary Jenning's Aztec would be it. Imagineative, Gratuitous at times in terms of sex and violence but always entertaining and enthralling, this is to be held as one of the best books ever. Unless you are freakishly squeamish about taboo subject, this will end up on your all time list, GUARANTEED!...more info
- Aztec book is great and the service (Amazon) is very good.
The book by Gary Jennings is the best novel I read about the cultures of Mexico....more info
This is a great book that I had read in the past but lost..I was happy to be able to replace it..It arrived in great condition and did not take too long to receive....more info
- Good, gory read
You don't have to be a sicko to like this book.
It's a romanticized version of the Aztecs, but the book still has a lot going for it. It's a human universal: sexuality and death cults go hand in hand -- be prepared. The book recreates the worldview of pre-conquistador Mexico City, and then brings in the Spanish. The plot is... good to great. A few loose ends were tied up in just the way you knew they would be, but there are still some surprises.
If you liked Tom Clancy's Without Remorse or Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire, you are probably going to like this, too.
This book is incredible. It will change the way that you look at everything. Crisp details and descriptions of persons, places and events make for a great read. You will feel this book happen around you as you read it....more info
- Simply AMAZING
This is an awesome book. I won't say here what almost everybody before me has already said, just this: This book is a must read for everybody that calls himself a Mexican (like me).
I already knew much of the history, but I have never read it in an objective way.
And for everyone else (not Mexicans) I definitely recommend it, it contains not only very detailed history about the Aztec people but a very good novel within.
- Eye Opening
I read this book after reading about it in the times and it sounded so exotic. It's not always easy, especially with the Aztec names and the amount of characters involved. But once I got into it, I could not stop and it still remains in my head. The sadness of the story of the Mexican Indians and their treatment by the Conquistadors is another heartbreaking one of the battles between the native inhabitants of the Americas and the white settlers.
There were horrific rituals performed by the Aztecs that I thought incredible until some time after I read this book, there was an Aztec exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. And sure enough, there was proof of the validity of Jennings' careful research and the practice of flaying was true.
Highly recommended. You will not forget it....more info
- I agree!
I can only reiterate all of the praise for Aztec. It's a truly special work of historical fiction that, even after 1400 pages, leaves you wanting more....more info
Gary Jennings is one of the best historical authors out there. This book is the second of his that i've read. It is one of the best books I've ever read. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know what life was like for an everyday Aztec in the prime of their existance....more info
- WOW--what can i say???
The way that Gary Jennings wrote this book was super extraordinary!!! He makes it seem as if the main character Mixtli (one of his many, many names as most "Aztec" readers learn) was part of the aztec's history. He wrote it as if Mixtli experienced it all. It's truely an amazing book. As many others agree, my first thought of reading this book was, "Oh no. Here goes another boring history book." But NO!! If I would've had time, I would've finished the book in at most a week, but at the pace of 50 pages a day, it took me only about a month to read it.
If you would like to read another magnificent novel, I would defenitely recommend "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet.
I promise that if you liked "Aztec", you defenitely will not regret taking my recommendation....more info
- Incredible...words cannot describe how enthralling this book is
No book can compare to this one. Its sequels are worthless, but Aztec itself is the greatest book ever written. I have read it over ten times and am amazed at Gary Jennings' writing. You will never forget this gripping story...I promise you that...more info
- Excellent Story-Telling
As a student of Mexican history, an aspiring writer and a linguist by education, I'm possibly among the tougher readers out there. As a matter of fact, I rated the sequel to this book at 1 star out of 5... :)
So here is my opinion, take it or leave it. I believe this work deserves the highest mark.
- Specific, visual writing style that leaves no doubt about what the writer is saying. The quality of writing is well above average: the words are chosen with care, the scenes are complete, the text is easy to read. G. Jennings immediately created the 'style' of the book, unique and engaging.
- Compelling main character. Mixtli is a joy to get to know. He's one of the richest literary personages that I know of. The insights into his nature are deep and disturbing.
- Breadth of research and excellent presentation of it. The sites, smells, sensations of the time are reproduced with outstanding level of detail.
- "Show don't tell" excellence: I forgot about time... the book is so visually and sensually compelling that at times I had an impression of watching a movie rather than reading a book. Or having a dream...
- Tight plot. Some folks seem to expect a fast-moving plot from this book which is probably a 'milieu' (location) book rather than a commercial, event-driven story. The plot is the life itself. Every scene is in its place. Even the most disgusting scenes (e.g. Mixtli puking onto the old whore) move the plot forward in more than one way. Superb planning and execution!
- Honesty and bravery in covering even the most unpleasant details.
- Some characters do get repetitive. All the key women are coockie-cut: stunning beauties of unbelievable grace, who drench Mixtli in their generous unconditional love only to die untimely and horrific deaths. Everyone apart from his daughter (thanks goodness not his daughter) worships his member and indulges into the most questionable behaviour with him from incest to pedophilia.
- Some historical data is plain wrong. The flow of conquest is distorted, the character of Montezuma, in fact rich and well-documented, is made into a cartoon junkie, Dona Marina is artificial, etc. I guess that's the 'right of pen' in action... but it does undermine credibility of the rest of the facts. Which, probably, is fine.
- I'm sorry, but the compulsive obsession with how every woman's 'tipili' looks and feels, and with Mixtli's own manhood size is tiring. I've done my share of wild things in life, but even I thought it too much.
Overall, a delightful book. It affected me deeply, and possibly changed me. How many books have done this to you?
Cheers. ...more info
- am I the only one?
Everyone seems to love this book. I suppose if you're comparing it to Michener, it would be daring. As a historical novel, it is exhaustive. I'd rather read an ethnography, however. The writing is repetitive, unimaginative, and endless. The sex and violence is completely gratuitous; are we really to believe the Aztecs had small trained children performing ritual (and graphically described) sexual acts on people? I'm not a prude, but I felt as though Jennings was taking pleasure in describing some of the most violent and sickening acts by proxy. Clocking in at over 1000 pages, it has lost the battle for my attention....more info
- Amazing journey through pre-Columbian Central America
Incredible journey through Central America before and up to the devastation that was the arrival of the Europeans. Gripping story with a lot of action wrapped in insightful historical perspective. Great characters and although the life of the main character may be a little too big to be one person's life the context and the environment through which he takes you is extremely believable and pretty accurate from what I could tell....more info
An amazing story about life, love, and tragedy. It took me on a journey to another world....more info
- Worthwhile Reading
I thought this book to be extremely good. But I have to admit - that through the first half of the book - I was disappointed after reading all the raving reviews. It wasn't until the last half that I started liking it and then by the end - I was completely absorbed.
Definitely a worthwhile read.
I was transported to another time, another way of life and as a result of reading this book, I have been enriched.
It is gory, graphic and for "mature audiences" - but I believe that is inline with life back in the 1500s; i.e., it WAS Smelly, bloody, "less civilized" (whatever that means) and more human.
If you read it all, from beginning to end - it will be worth it....more info
- No history here...
I don't know...it certainly isn't a book that I couldn't put down,in fact it took me several tries to finsish it. Though it started out interesting enough, you know with the sex and violence, after awhile I found myself skipping ahead to try to outguess predictable and corny outcomes. Didn't really catch any sort of mystical, magical historical viewpoint for me. More like silly soap opera dressed in Aztec rags. ...more info
- Aztec book is great and the service (Amazon) is very good.
The book by Gary Jennings is the best novel I read about the cultures of Mexico....more info
- the greatest novel ever written!
First read it several years ago in high school. Was completely enthralled from beginning to end. A mix of fact and fiction that meshed perfectly without rambling on. If could have only 1 book for the rest of my life, it would be AZTEC!...more info
- Action, Adventure, Ritualistic Gore, and Lurid Sexuality
AZTEC by Gary Jennings is not for the squeamish or easily offended, but for the rest of us it is an incredibly engaging, quasi-educational read that will make you think while it entertains.
As you can tell by the other reviews, AZTEC is essentially the life story of one Aztec named Mixtli who lived during the last 50+ years of the Aztec Empire, and in so doing witnessed the civilization at its prime and then witnessed its downfall. Rather than get into the substance of Mixtli's many adventures here, let me just say that Mixtli leads a very extraordinary life. Through his unlikely but gradual rise from a commoner to a noble, every facet of the Aztecs' social, political and religious life is explored. Of course, as with all historical fiction novels, the reader should keep in mind that the specific events are fictiously rendered, and may therefore be exaggerated or otherwise altered to make the story more exciting. Also, because significant portions of the book concern aspects of Mixtli's life that have little or nothing to do with the Aztec civilization as a whole, the reader should expect to have his/her history lesson of politics, economics, war, and religion occasionally interrupted by Mixtli's oftentimes unconventional (even among the Aztecs) personal life.
Finally, AZTEC is more than just a good story and a quasi-history lesson, it is also a social commentary criticizing Anglo/European culture and the Catholic Church. The Spanish/Catholics are portrayed throughout AZTEC as greedy for gold, and as terribly unenlightened hypocrits that regularly burned "herotics" but thought the Aztecs' human sacrifices to be barbaric. So, not only is AZTEC exciting and quasi-educational in the context of a history lesson, it also makes us examine the errors of our past so that we may possibly be more tolerant of the wide-array of beliefs and cultures we now encounter amongst our family, friends and co-workers each day....more info
- THE BEST BOOK YOU WILL EVER READ ON AZTECA
When I found my hard copy at a yard sale amongst other interesting books I purchased I never planned on reading this huge book. Thank God I did! What an incredibly artistic way of introducing a person into the absolutely fascinating history of the areas that included the Aztecatl. Or perhaps one may prefer that to be Mexicatl since this is what became of the Aztecatl. The Triple Alliance, the Tolteca origins, the daily beauty and dignity of everyday circumstance. The coincidence, the verility, the pride, the love, the frugality, the shrewdness, the very Heart of The One World, and the splendor, the majestic splendor of the craftsmanship and the love, boundless love... It will draw you in until you drop your ethnocentricities and come to think after all, that the sacrifices were altogether not that more absurd than many other superstitions viewed in the light of their day, many of which are still employed today. I've read many books, am a big fan of Central American cultures but never really understood the Aztec part and always viewed them as latecomers on the Mesoamerican scene. This book enlightened me to the importance and grandieur of the Aztecs. Oh and not to forget, I still miss verile ol' Blood Glutton and the "Genaro-like" Nezahualpili, and I'll save a soft spot in my heart for Tlilectic-Mixtli ! A whole life in one book, and a most filled one at that. Goodbye dear friends, I'm off to Tenochtitlan!...more info
- Awesome book
A very interesting tale of the final days of the Aztecs before the Spanish conquest. If you have a strong stomach for sex and violence (which this book contains a lot of) and have an interest in ancient cultures then AZTEC is definately worth checking out....more info
- entertaining and informative
This book was a very entertaining read. As a person who has studied Spanish and Mexico in depth, I found it very interesting and accurate in many ways. (Of course I am not a expert on the Aztecs so you may take this with a grain of salt). I don't think that it portrayed the Aztecs in a stereotypical or negative way and it did a really decent job of describing one character's (Mixtli's) life before and after the arrival of the Spaniards. I'm sure that the author took a few liberties with his historical information, but I think overall this book gives a good description on how Aztec life might have been.
It's a big book, but I could hardly put it down. Totally worth reading....more info
- AFTER 20 YRS.. I STILL REMEMBER THIS BOOK...
I MUST ADMIT THAT IF A BOOK DOES NOT GRAB MY INTEREST AFTER THE FIRST 20-30 PAGES I USUALLY WALK AWAY FROM THE BOOK.
FORTUNATELY FOR ME, I HUNG IN THERE. YES,IT TAKES MAYBE TWICE THAT MUCH TO GET ROLLING, BUT MR. JENNINGS IS LAYING THE GROUND WORK FOR WHAT IS ARGUABLY THE BEST HISTORIAL NOVEL THAT I'VE READ.
THE BOOK CENTERS AROUND AN AZTEC WHO'S AT NEAR BOTTOM OF SOCIETY AND HIS LIFE AS HE MOVES UP INTO THE ROYALITY OF THAT TIME.
THE AUTHOR CAPTURES AND DELIVERS ALL THAT WE LOVE TO READ ABOUT,ADVENTURISM, LUST,BARBARISM, BLOOD SACRIFICES, SINSTER PLOTS AND LOTS OF SEX. WHAT IS THERE HERE NOT TO LIKE?
THIS BOOKS GOT IT ALL AND AFTER ALL THESE YEARS OF READING..
( HOW MANY BOOKS DO MOST OF US REMEMBER AFTER 20+ YRS? ) I STILL THINK IT'S THE BEST FICTION FOR THIS PERIOD OF TIME.
THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR EVERYONE, BUT.. CAN I RECOMEND THIS BOOK.. ABSOLUTLEY!...more info
- Worth every second of your time!!
Do not be intimidated by the length of the book. I was, yet I read it anyway and at the end I wish there were more pages. All of the 5-star comments are true. This is one of the best books I have ever read. This is also the first review I have written on Amazon and I was so moved by the book that I had to encourage more people to read it. I highly suggest this book, you will NOT be disappointed....more info
- Detailed Historical Fiction But Rated R Book!!
Gary Jenning's 1980's series "Aztec" reads more like a thrilling and dramatic behind-the-scenes expose of Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. This is book one, and it is followed by Aztec Autum and Aztec Blood, the last which takes place in Spain. This novel has its ups and downs. Jennings spent years researching the language, culture and history of the Aztec Empire so that he was able to bring it to stunningly graphic life in highly descriptive scenes. The principal characters are well-developed and sympathetic, particularly the "good" Aztecs, namely our hero Mixtli "Dark Cloud" and his family. Through Mixtli's eyes we see the world of the Aztec, which was a dangerous and exciting world. Human sacrifices, war, honor, sex, violence and corrupt Spanish missionaries and conquistadores in pursuit of gold and fame. Mixtli, a humble villager, rises from his poverty to the position of scribe and later warrior. In this way, Jennings allows us to see the varying social classes within the Aztec social structure. Scribes were educated professional writers and translators, the equivalent of business men today. Mixtli travels to Guatemala, where he makes business deals with the Maya, who were the enemy of the Aztec and are thus characterized in a malign manner. The life of the warrior is also described but does not take a prominent place in the novel. The warriors wage war with other tribes for dominion of Mexico, for victory of their gods. The Spanish become foreign white devils who wish to destroy the entire Aztec race and clear out the land for Spanish colonies. This is an epic book, an Aztec equivalent of Shogun by James Clavell. Nevertheless, if this book were made into a film, it would be rated R and the sex scenes are wild enough to be featured in hardcore pornography. Unfortunately, the majority if not all the females in this novel are treated as sex toys and not empowered women in their own right. It's a man's book, if you really think about it. And therefore, men who normally don't read historical fiction would be attracted to this book for the violence and the sex and the glorified males in the novel. Overall, an interesting read. Look for other Jennings historical novels, but be warned, for they are graphic, bizarre and sprawling works of heroes overcoming obstacles for the sake of honor. ...more info
- A great historical novel that doesn't bog down
I love history with all its lessons and implications, but sadly history books can either be fascinating or terminally dull. "Aztec" by the late Gary Jennings is a great book, exhaustively researched by an author who loved the history and culture of the book's subject, as evidenced by his other similiar novels.
We learn the tale of an Aztec Indian who, because of his literary skills, becomes a historian on his own, and describes his life among a civilization that is at the same time superstitious, bloodthirsty but also capable of great beauty and knowledge. He tells the tale to his conquering Spanish friars and Jennings does not hesitate to bring up the obvious irony of the Spanish Catholic settlers ridiculing the many gods of the Aztec world and its superstitions, meanwhile destroying the pyramids and temples and replacing them with churches full of their own saints and countless rituals of their own, not to mention their own penchant for bloodletting and cruelty.
"Aztec" is sometimes vulgar, sometimes beautiful or funny, and at all times entrancing. History buffs and readers who just like an excellent story should add this book to their libraries at once....more info
- Truly one of the best books I've ever read!
This book has everything anyone could ask for. Adventure, love, war, culture, human sacrifice, the list goes on and on. I am a slow reader, but I finished this 1000+ page book in less than a week. I could not put it down....more info
- Not entirely "just for men"...
I tend to gravitate towards disturbing, shocking, and extreme fiction, and this book held up to my standards rather well. I am female (if you couldn't tell...), and whereas another female reviewer thought the book was written primarily for men, I don't entirely agree. Perhaps it was the gratuitous sex, violence, incest, flayings, decapitations and human sacrifice depicted that made her think it was manly. Are those primarily manly things? I suppose, looking back historically (ah, who am I kiding, we just need to look around *now*). But then...most things seem to be manly when it comes to historical fiction. Another point to note is that the book is about AZTECS, who frequently engaged in ritual war for ritual sacrifice. It's not so much "manly" things this book describes as it is a totally alien culture. And even in this alien culture, Jennings managed to create plausible and real characters, who live and act in accordance with their society in ways we can understand. This means the women were submissive, because women were raised to be submissive. However, this doesn't excuse the "ready-and-willing sex object" view of women, which got a little old after the first few encounters, or even the insane number of encounters. Mixtli must have been quite the Aztec stud. Also, there is really no excuse for Jadestone Doll (though I'm still amused by her).
Obviously, the book is not for everyone, and people with delicate tastes might not understand or enjoy its graphic nature. I myself tried looking at it from a purely anthropological viewpoint (incidentally, I'm an anthropology major and I read this book for a paper on archaeological fallacies in historical fiction). This means I tried to suspend my belief regarding the plot of the story when I read it and instead focused on the society. While the life of Mixtli is a bit extreme and overly adventurous for *any* human (Aztec status not withstanding), the book seems to depict Aztec culture and life realistically through his picaresque adventure. It de-mystifies and, in an odd sort of way, humanizes the sacrifices, rituals, and the other myriad nuances of Aztec culture that baffle and disgust modern Americans. The book fascinated me, and the length did nothing to assuage my rapid pace in reading it. It was *that* fascinating, though I admit I'm a person with tastes others might view as highly questionable....more info
Truly, Gary Jennings has a light prose, great descriptive and the book is well researched. It also treats a civilization of great importance in the history of America, and especially Mexico. I believe the best thing about this book is how through the eyes of Tilelic Mixtli, the author fully represents the full collision between two cultures with so different paradigms.
The book isn't good just as history, but it is also filled with romance and adventure, without loosing it's sense of history. There is however one thing that could diminish it's greatness, and that is the tragic sense of Jennings. The whole book is filled with tragedies, and Jennings tends to do this a lot, however, in this particular case, the whole momentum of the book is tragedy.
Strongly recommended, yet not for the faint of heart....more info
- Best book ever written!
My wife had this book in her little "library". Her last boyfriend before we met gave it to her as a gift since she was Mexican. She's not much of a reader and just put it aside. I saw the book in the house, but had never heard of it, and it was really long, so I never bothered to read it. Well 10 years later I was bored and looking for something to read around the house. I found the book again and decided what the heck, I'll check it out. I'm glad I did, because it is THE best book ever written. Most people, myself included, have no idea how advanced the Aztec civilization was before the Spanish came. Yes they were brutal, but advanced in many ways.
Gary Jennings, the author, a white guy from Virginia, moved to Mexico for 12 years doing research before writing this book. I did not know it was a historical novel with many truthful events until after reading it. I reccommend this book to anyone who likes to read. Once you start, you can't stop. Do yourself a favor and buy this book!!!