Someone just advised me that Graham Hancock is about to lauch a historical fiction book set in at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. It can only be good news for ‘New Fire’ if more famous authors than I take up the Aztec banner. Hopefully they will draw in people who would not otherwise have looked in.
Other novels set in Mexico during the Aztec Empire, in no particular order:
Let’s see if the ‘Eye of Sauron’ (Bernard Cornwell) turns this way!
Night was absolute beneath the foliage and the only cue that Two Sign was there was the sound of his deep, steady voice.
‘This story begins with a happy child and a loving family who live in a peaceful village in a clearing in the woods. This child has two older sisters and an older brother.’
Jaguar guessed that the story was about Crocodile even though his friend had spoken very little of his life before he came to the city.
‘One day, while many of the men were out hunting and only the frail old men and the youngest warriors – like this boy’s older brother – were left to guard the village, a fearsome tribe of warriors swoops down upon them. The leader of this band of warriors was called Stone Monkey, a thin and evil man with one white eye and a lust to kill. Stone Monkey questioned the eldest of the village wanting to know the whereabouts of the fighting men and older women. The eldest told them they were all out, but refused to say anything more, so Stone Monkey beat him and still the old man held his tongue. Now the boy saw nothing of this. He was out, dutifully collecting firewood when these foreigners descended on his village.’
Two Sign let out a deep sigh.
‘Stone Monkey grew angry and stuck a spear in the old man’s stomach and then made him watch while he killed one of the boys who had been left on guard duty, the little boy’s brother as it happened. “I’ll kill another if you do not tell me where the rest of your people have gone!” he said. “And then I’ll kill another, then another.” The old man knew that nothing would spare the people who had been rounded up so he said nothing, concentrating instead on holding down the pain that burned in his belly. He knew Stone Monkey wished to see him suffer and refused to give him that satisfaction.’
Here Two Sign took out a gourd and drank a sip. Jaguar felt a nudge and realised that the Eagle Knight was offering him some water. He took a swig and passed the container back. There was a noise of the plug being turned in the neck of the gourd and then Two Sign began talking again.
‘The boy heard the commotion and the screaming from his village. He wasn’t far away. Returning cautiously to the edge of the clearing where the trees were thickest, he watched as his own brother was cut down. He saw Stone Monkey give the word to his men to burn the houses and watched as his sisters were tied up in a line with anyone else who was fit enough to run. Babies, toddlers and the infirm were butchered in the centre of the village or pushed into the flaming huts.’
To my mind, book one of the Aztec Elements, ‘New Fire’ has a slightly modern feel to it. Yes, there are priests and ceremonies but the extent to which these affect the main characters is actually slight. When you read about the Aztecs, the overriding impression you get is that these people would have LOVED Russell Grant! The Aztecs lived their lives by religion and horoscopes. Take a look at this extract from writings by Alfonso Caso…
So great was the importance of religion for the Aztec people that we can say without exaggeration that their existence revolved totally around it. There was not a single act of public or private life which was not coloured by religious sentiment. It controlled commerce, politics and conquest. It intervened in every act of the individual, from birth until the moment when the priests cremated his corpse and interred the ashes.
And this, from a book by Warwick Bray…
Night was a dangerous time, for demons walked in the hours of darkness. Tezcatlipoca, god of the wizards, took many forms, appearing as a shrouded corpse, or a bundle of ashes which groaned as it billowed along, or a headless man with his chest and belly broken open. Anyone bold enough to seize this spectre and tear out its heart could demand a reward for giving it back, but there is no record of anyone having made the attempt.
I’m very happy with ‘New Fire’, but I want book 2, ‘Bad Water’, to feel as though it’s been steeped in superstition and I think that modern day readers, who quietly sneak a look at their horoscopes when no one is looking, will think that it’s all perfectly reasonable.
This is what I have for the prologue of book two in the series ‘Aztec Elements’. See what you think!
1460 AD was a good year for the Aztec people. The year that they knew as Seven Flint saw continued expansion towards the east coast. The lowland jungles were rich in feathers and the rivers laden with gold that was not naturally abundant on the high plateau where their city lay. Exotic fruits and animals were caught, bought or plundered and taken back to Tenochtitlan, much to the wonder of its inhabitants. The people that lived in the jungles did so in small communities and there were very few that were big enough to offer any real resistance to the might of the Mexica army. This also made possible the acquisition and transportation of that other precious commodity, so vital to appease the gods, that of human souls.
With the success of his armies, Moctezuma’s popularity rose, but so too did his opinion of himself. Others, jealous of his power and less pleased with the developments, conspired to bring about change. Tlacaelel, focused on the enemy without, did not notice the threat to his half-brother that came from within.
To enter the competition to win a signed copy of ‘New Fire’, leave a comment here explaining why you deserve a free copy. Competition closes 28th of Feb 2013. Judges decision is final. Submissions on other social media sites are also being taken into consideration but the winning three entries will be posted on this site.
I’m reading ‘Flute of the Smoking Mirror’ by Frances Gillmor. It’s a real gem and is providing me with ideas for book two. Here’s an extract…
One day in the market place he saw a procession of herb women and midwives leading a woman through the aisles between the close-shaded stalls. She scattered corn meal before her where she went, bidding farewell to the place forever.
“For tonight you go to the bed of a great lord,” one of the women told her in the hearing of the boy.
But the boys in the Calmecac whispered to him the truth.
“Tonight she will be killed and skinned in honour of Toci, our Grandmother. Her skin will be taken to the temple of Cineteotl, son of Toci, as has been done since the princess of Culhuacan was skinned in Tenochtitlan…”
He watched her go in the procession of midwives. He watched the mock battle in which she was pelted with yellow flowers so that she would not weep…she must go gladly to her death, deceived into happiness.
Here’s a first peek at what the cover of book two might look like!
First impression of cover art for ‘Bad Water’
Last week was an important week. Last week, I received the first royalties from both Amazon for the Kindle version of the book (15 sold) and from Grosvenor House Publishing for the paperback sales (22 UK sales and 5 USA). £23.90 and £29.24 respectively. Woo-hoo! It feels great to know that people are reading my work and some are even giving good reviews!
In spite of all our advances in science, technology and society, humanity is still deeply superstitious. The animal part of brain still startles at threats, however irrational they are. Most of you will be aware that the 21st of December 2012 is the supposed end of the Mayan ‘Long Count’. The Long Count counts the progression of the 52 year calendar cycle that was used across Central America before the invasion by the Spanish.
This headline from the New York Times: MOSCOW – There are scattered reports of unusual behaviour from across Russia’s nine time zones.
This article from the BBC – Aberdeen academic discusses ‘the end of world’ theory
NASA is the voice of reasonNASA to doomsday theorists: You’re wrong!
There will probably be more hysteria and certainly more interest in this in the next fortnight as we countdown to the apocalypse and I think, on the whole, this is a good thing. Why? Because it’s a reminder that we’re not as far removed from our ancestors of 500 years ago. The difference between us and the Aztecs and the Mayans before them is just that they had a framework to make sense of their periodic calendar endings whereas we have science. Of course the trouble is that science doesn’t provide an answer in this case, it simply states that the evidence doesn’t suggest the need for an answer. Maybe that’s just not very satisfying for our deep-root animal brains.
Tell your friends and uncles and aunts and anyone you know who has a Kindle that ‘New Fire’ is free to download for Kindle tomorrow.
Read and review! I need reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
I’m delighted to announce that the Kindle version of ‘New Fire’ has been published! In the end, I decided to do this myself. The process was so easy there was no reason to give away part of my earnings to third parties.
Click here to go to Amazon.
The paperback is being published now and should be available in about two weeks time! Hurray!