Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Young Jaguar by @ZoeSaadia #Aztecs #Bookreview

Today’s team review comes from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Cathy chose to read and review The Young Jaguar by Zoe Saadia

13604070

Fifteen years have passed since Tecpatl and Sakuna left the Anasazi people and returned to the capital city of Axacapotzalco in the Tepanec Empire. Now the Chief Warlord and with many successes on the battlefield, Tecpatl returns only to find the old Emperor, Acolnahuacatl, is dying. He is charged with supporting Acolnahuacatl’s choice of successor but two of the old Emperor’s sons are competing for their father’s title. Tecpatl and his family are caught in the middle of the conflict caused by the brothers.

Atolli, the oldest of Tecpatl and Sakuna’s three children, wants to excel in his military training in order to be accepted as one of the elite warriors and be like his father. But Atolli is reckless and headstrong and has been caught out in a serious misdeed, which he compounds by an even worse offence, bringing disgrace upon his family.

Atolli is drawn into the intrigue and politics between the old emperor’s two sons, as is his mother and father. The resulting situation helps him grow and mature. Atolli accepts he is in the wrong and works out a way to put things right without help, which makes his father proud. The city is in disorder and there is unrest everywhere. Tecpatl is forced by the scheming of others into a less than ideal situation and is compelled to choose between the two things he lives for.  Sakuna takes unorthodox measures to help her man, and all three are fighting against unfavourable odds.

The relationship between Tecpatl and Sakuna is intense, powerful and monogamous, which is unheard of, and doesn’t follow the customs dictated by the Tepanec tradition, putting them at a certain disadvantage with their peers. Sakuna is considered a savage, a barbarian by the people of Axacapotzalco and they cannot understand why Tecpatl refuses to take another wife, specifically one of Tepanec blood.  The marked contrast between Sakuna and the women of the time, how they are treated and regarded by the menfolk, also how they view and conduct themselves, is depicted perfectly by actions and during conversations.

The believable, well drawn characters, the realism of the setting and way of life are described in memorable detail, all evoking strong and clear images. An excellent taste of this pre Aztec period, breathing colourful life into a culture long since disappeared with an exciting, action filled storyline, beautifully woven together with the history of the time.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book review Team #RBRT Noelle Reviews The Young Jaguar by @ZoeSaadia #Aztecs

Today’s team review comes from Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Noelle chose to read and review The Young Jaguar by Zoe Saadia

13604070

Book Review: The Young Jaguar by Zoe Saadia

 

The Young Jaguar by Zoe Saadia is the first book in a pre-Aztec trilogy, and introduces us to Atolli, a teenager in the Tepenic Empire of Central America, whose father is Tecpatl, the Chief Warlord. Prior to the rise of the Aztec Empire, this Empire was strong and growing. Tecpatl’s position is very high within the social structure and he is very content, having returned from a series of successful wars, and he loves his family. His wife, Sakuna, followed Tecpatl home when he warred in her native land of the Anasazis, and theirs is a deep and respectful love that has withstood the criticism of the Tepenic elite. Atolli is a hot-headed daredevil, who climbs the walls of the palace with the skill and cunning of a jaguar, just for fun.

The story begins when Atolli, his best friend Mecatl and some other adventurous boys from the warrior school that Atolli attends, roam the palace walls at night, drinking octli, a potent drink reserved for the warriors of the tribe. This is a serious transgression, but an adventure they have taken before. This time, they are discovered and chased and Atolli and Mecatl fall over the wall into one of the palace gardens. There they meet Chictli, the beautiful daughter of the second son of the Emperor, and Atolli is smitten.

His position as Tecpatl’s son saves him from serious punishment, but he has to vow to support Chictli’s father in the future as one of his warriors. At the same time, the Emperor dies, making Tecpatl vow to support his first son as the new Emperor, thus putting him at odds not only with his son, but much of the Tepenic elite. Tecpatl is thus forced to choose between his duty to the new Emperor and his family, which ultimately puts them all in danger. Sakuna uses her skill with herbs and healing to deal with the crisis.

I become completely immersed in Zoe Saadia’s historical novels. The characters come alive; because of her detailed research on everything involved in tribal life – customs, food, clothing , jewelry – the reader feels like they are there, amidst the action. Family dynamics, especially in this book, are very recognizable, even though the tribal dynamics are complex. Zoe makes it clear that people haven’t changed much over the centuries: they are greedy, power-hungry, loving, driven, devious, envious, bored and frustrated. These emotions fuel this story.

I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction but more widely to any reader who likes a barn burner of a story with great characters and lots of action. What’s even better is that you can follow Atolli on his journey to adulthood through the next book in the series, The Jaguar Warrior.

Zoe Saadia is the author of two trilogies and one series (11 full-length novels), all covering the turbulent history of Mesoamerica when the Aztecs were busy coming to power. All are based on more than a decade of research of pre-contact cultures. She is convinced this history of the Americas has been completely overlooked, and she brings it to life through her writing.

She has also written The Peacemaker Series of four books, stories surrounding the creation of the famous Iroquois Confederacy, one of the oldest democracies on earth. I reviewed Two Rivers, one of these books, in a previous post.

When I can fit them into my copious free time, I intend to read all of these!

You can find a copy of this book here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com