It is 1455 and Tenochtitlan is in the fourth year of a terrible drought that has led to famine and widespread suffering. To make matters worse, it is the final days of the last year of the sacred calendar and no one knows if the priests will be able to light the New Fire, to appease the gods and keep an apocalypse at bay.
It is the high priest, Cloud Face, whose role it is to oversee the brutal ceremony, but even if he succeeds, he is locked in a bitter rivalry with Tlacaelel, general of the Mexica armies and Moctezuma’s brother. The priests have been marginalised by the rise of the secular state and Tlacaelel is determined to keep it that way, putting the lives of his warriors and conquest above the relentless hunger of the gods.
If Cloud Face can avert the end of the world, he will put an audacious plan into action, intended to discredit Tlacaelel through the annihilation of his army, specifically the fighting men of the administrative classes whom Cloud Face must supplant if the priests are to regain ascendency.
One young warrior, Heart of the Jaguar, is caught up in the high priest’s conspiracy and has to stay alive long enough to find a way out of the predicament.