Read Aztec by Gary Jennings Online


Here is the extraordinary story of the last and greatest native civilization of North America, at the height of its magnificence. It is a story told in the words of one of the most robust and memorable characters in modern fiction. His name is Mixtli-Dark Cloud. Rising above his lowly station, Mixtli distinguishes himself as a scribe and later a warrior. He earns a fortuneHere is the extraordinary story of the last and greatest native civilization of North America, at the height of its magnificence. It is a story told in the words of one of the most robust and memorable characters in modern fiction. His name is Mixtli-Dark Cloud. Rising above his lowly station, Mixtli distinguishes himself as a scribe and later a warrior. He earns a fortune as a traveling merchant, exploring every part of what the Aztecs called The One World-the far lands of mountains, jungles, deserts, seacoasts....

Title : Aztec
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780689110450
Format Type : Unknown Binding
Number of Pages : 754 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Aztec Reviews

  • mark monday
    2019-04-02 15:18

    if a guilty pleasure can elevate itself to the level of transformative epic, and then come plummeting back down to farce and depravity, and then up again, and then down again, and around and around and around... then this is that novel. there are many things to enjoy. some enjoyments are guilt-free: the sense of wonder, the lavish details, the description of native civilizations - so many aspects of so many cultures, all so clearly well-researched and engagingly depicted. some enjoyments inspire only guilt: the numerous, excitedly engorged accounts of atrocity and bloodshed, the overripe sex scenes that become almost ridiculous in their frequency and comically graphic, often grotesque detail. it is a jacobean soap opera writ large, candide placed in his trashiest adventure yet: the always-horny narrator moving constantly through varied scenes of destruction, despair, bawdy comedies of manner, periods of learning and excitement, times of cold anger and lingering resentment, from youth to infirmity. doom and good fortune are doled out plentifully.reading this in the central plaza of Oaxaca during a sunny week preceding the Day of the Dead made the experience a vital one, and a really embarrassing one as well. i couldn't keep my eyes out of the book; "it's really well-researched" was my mantra whenever my friends would look at it with doubtful, critical eyes. it was impossible to earnestly defend such a spectacle of michael bay proportions. just being seen reading it made me feel like such a common tourist. it's an indefensible book, a combination of longest boy's adventure ever and a jack-off book of epic proportion. it is also lots and lots of guilty fun.

  • Meredith Holley
    2019-04-09 19:11

    Did you ever wish that Boogie Nights was a book set in the time of the fall of the Aztec empire? No? Well, don't tell Gary Jennings that because I'm pretty sure it would hurt his feelings. It's not really something I would have thought you'd need to be specific about, but kids are so "creative" these days. This story isn't about Marky Mark’s penis or Montezuma's penis, either, because you might find that too predictable. It's about the penis of this other dude who is able to "visit" with exotic tribes and still make it back in time for the major happenings of Spanish conquest. I find it apropos to quote the GR summary of the book to give you a basic outline of what you might expect to find "under the covers" of this novel. This was obviously written by someone who decided not to actually read the book, but wanted to guess what it was about (quotes added for emphasis):Here is the "extraordinary" story of the last and "greatest" native civilization of North America, at the "height" of its "magnificent" (sic). It is a story told in the words of one of the most "robust" and memorable characters in modern fiction. His name is Mixtil--Dark Cloud. "Rising" above his lowly station, Mixtil distinguishes himself as a scribe and later a "warrior." He earns a fortune as a traveling merchant, "exploring" every part of what the Aztecs called The One World--the far lands of mountains, jungles, deserts, seacoasts.(*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*) I like the extended euphemisms. I didn’t realize before that the Aztecs referred to the female anatomy as The One World. So much is lost in translation.The best thing about this book was the woman who gave it to me. I was working in this law office with four lawyers (all male) and four assistants (all female). I had just moved into a new house, and a woman I knew decided to throw me this "house-warming shower," which was a pretty painful experience for me but well-meaning of her. The game she came up with (like ya do for a "shower") was that everyone had to give me a book I would hate. This stressed out all the attendees (those who were actually my friends) because many of them are friends with me only because of books, so they felt like they had to bring a book I would actually love. It turned into a situation where all these women (men aren't allowed to come to showers, don't you know?) were bringing me their favorite books in the entire world, leaving me obligated to read them.So, I worked with this one woman, who in many ways was an average, comfortable mom type. In a lot of other ways, she reminded me of a character from the Addams Family, though. She had this white streak in her black hair, which was cut into a mullet. She also had this way of shuffling around the office that was pretty unique. You know how lego people walk by moving their whole bodies? It was kind of like that. Also, she had the Addams Family theme song as her ring tone. I never asked her about it, but I figured she made a lot of style choices based on that show. Also, she had a speech disorder where she replaced her the 'r' sound with the 'w' sound. When I first met her, I honestly thought she had an accent. At one point the other assistants and I were out to lunch, and I asked her, "So, where are you from?" She replied, "California." Anyway, she couldn’t attend the house-warming shower but gave me this book at work, saying, "This is my favorite book in the entire world, and I haven’t been able to find another copy, so I’m giving you my copy." No pressure, right?It turns out that unfortunately this book is not out of print, though I did return her copy to her when I was finished reading it, just, you know, to make sure she didn’t miss it. While I think Boogie Nights is a great movie, there are some other times and places to which I feel it might not translate well. So that we’re not relying on assumptions anymore, I’ll state explicitly the places that I can think of where it would, imao, be a drag: pioneer days, Middle Earth, the Vatican, jungles (too obvious), the Soviet Union, the suffrage movement or second-wave feminism, the Civil War, any journey by land (Oregon trail, Lewis & Clark, Marco Polo - come on, people, there are kids reading these books!), or a bio pic about a someone leading or ministering to the disenfranchised (Martin Luther King, Jr.; Gandhi; Mother Teresa – not appropriate). I’m leaving a lot of options open, still, if you’d like to re-make Boogie Nights. For example, space would totally work, as would reality TV and other entertainment genres (music, game shows, theater, etc.). Bill Clinton, likewise, has absolutely set us up for a political re-make. See? I’m not being stingy, just proactive. On the other hand, if you’d like to hear a fictional Aztec talk for almost 800 pages about his penis, then this is the book for you.

  • Bill
    2019-03-28 19:28

    (this review from my website)Whew! Man, it's been over two months since I've made any updates and this behemoth of a novel is to blame. As some of you may already be aware, I'm not all that keen on marathon reads.Losing a month out of your life for something like Stephen King's Insomnia will do that to you.It's for that reason that after buying Aztec it sat on my shelf for several months before deciding to venture into it. Well, two months later I can look back on this as a time travel tripwell worth the effort. This review could easily be placed in any of my pages. Horror, for the multitudes of human sacrifices and torture; Mystery/Suspense, for assorted intrigue and adventures; even Sci-fi/Fantasy, for the total immersion into an alien culture. Aztec is all of these, and I must warn you, that apart from being a wonderful history lesson (an Aztec recounts his life story to the conquering Spanish officials) , this novel is not for the squeamish or easily offended. There are graphic depictions of human sacrifice and torture, and explicit and illicit sex scenes.So now you know what you're in for. Highly recommended, and best read during a heatwave.

  • Szplug
    2019-03-28 23:06

    Jennings was one hell of a storyteller: Raptor was a thrilling and transgressive post-Roman romp, and The Journeyer fleshed out the eastward travels and adventures of Marco Polo with an exotic embellishment, a sexy and spicy pomp; but Aztec was my introduction to his colorful and hot-blooded novels, and remains a fond favorite. Sure, this overlong confession given by a captured Aztec aristocrat to his monastic interlocutors in the aftermath of Great Montezuma's empire being flushed down the toilet is soaked in violence, depravity, hyperbole and blasphemy; sure, there's an obsession with incest and fluid-filled sex, between all, for all, in the most wickedly imaginable variations; sure, the violence is visceral, including nasty flesh-melting-for-sculpting tortures that curdle the contents of the stomach; sure, the calmly launched barbs by the interogatee that either etiolate or inflame the shocked visages of his Catholic captors, driving them to cross themselves and cross their legs*, occur with a routine frequency that eventually elbows tiresome in the ribs; in the end, Aztec is a long, thick page-turner detailing a marvelously exotic, rich, and colourful Aztec society that sucks the reader in like a turbo-charged Hoover and inveigles a marrow-melting rage at the Conquistadores for so cruelly extinguishing such a zany, ziggurat-dominated Pre-Columbian soap opera. *My mom gave me this book just post-puberty, without a clue as to its content. Good grief, what a overload to the adolescent system this puppy turned out to be. Mesoamerican historical fiction porn at its absolute peak entertainment value. (Simulates Obelix tapping at his forehead) Those Aztecs were crazy!

  • Linda C.
    2019-04-24 19:30

    This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is simply the best single novel that I have ever read.Nothing is superfluous.There is human sacrifice galore as well as graphic (and I mean graphic) violence and sexuality. However, the drama is top notch and there are times when you must stop reading because you are overwhelmed by the spectacle of the story.I gave this book as an impulse buy to my mother for Christmas one year. I had no idea what it was like, I simply went by some fabulous blurbs on the cover and that she liked fat historical novels. I figured she had read lots of stories about Mary Queen of Scots and probably hadn't read one about the history of Mexico before the Spanish Conquistadors.I was right about that part, but had no idea what I was truly giving my mother.She was astounded by the gift, as was my father.The next year at Christmas she gave me the book back, but by that time it had gone through at least six pairs of hands.I was shocked when I read it, but the story still is seared in my brain.

  • Nate
    2019-04-21 18:12

    This book was...quite a book. It's the story of the titularly Aztec guy named Mixtli (I guess they were actually called Mexica but somewhere along the way they picked up the name Aztec which derives from their mythological ancestral origin place Aztlan, I picked up like a thousand facts like this from this book and it hurt my brain) from his weird childhood to weird adulthood to weird old age. Along the way he extensively travels Mexico and gets involved in dozens of adventures and tragedies, most of which culminate with pretty intense and bizarre violence and or/sex. Thankfully as gross and weird as this book can get most of it is directly related to the plot and somehow didn't seem gratuitous or superfluous. I think. Maybe. At the very least it added to the pervasive sense of being in this old, dead world that didn't know or care that Judeo-Christian based value systems even existed.All of that good clean stuff really didn't impress on me as much as all the incredibly thorough and vivid detail of this destroyed world. Mixtli travels to dozens of settlements ranging from a handful of decrepit huts deep in the jungle to the shining limestone of Tenochtitlan and the people in them are just as varied as the places they inhabit. One people I particularly liked I think were named the Raramuri, they were people that lived in caves, were constantly running everywhere and hunted with their bare hands, and would nominate the new village shaman/leader/doctor/whatever by just eating a bunch of drugs and then whoever woke up first from the stupor and said they saw the spirits would be the new leader. Best of all, this person could be male or female. And these people took up like 5 pages of this book. It's so full of this stuff that you can just get lost in it.This book also boasted a protagonist that's pretty different from the usual fare. He's not a hero or even really an anti-hero...he's just kind of a particularly smart and adventurous guy that likes to travel and do it with people a lot. He's capable of very touching emotion, but he can also be a jerk. And he also has a severe visual impairment. So again, not really your typical main character guy, but I ended up really liking Mixtli Dark-Cloud, and not just because he had an awesome name. Also the rest of the characters in this book are plenty colorful in and of themselves. Just looking back I have to remember Jadestone Doll, Cozcatl, Blood Glutton, Always and of course the worst guy ever Hernan Cortes.Seriously, what a horrible person, both in life and this book. Seeing him as a person brought to life in fiction just really made clear what a greedy, mean, xenophobic, violent, sociopathic douche Cortes was. He had an insane grip on the dream of exploiting these people and he managed to pull it off through a combination of weaselly manipulation, intimidation, and outright violence. Despite the fixation most people have on the human sacrifices (which, I mean, is obviously understandable) these people had a beauty and nobility to their culture as well as a complicated and long-developed tradition in law, custom, warfare, religion and all that stuff. Even when they were ripping people's hearts out they were just doing it because they thought it would keep one of their many mercurial gods from getting pissy enough to wipe them out. Even the people that were killed were seen as being given an honorable death and position in the afterlife. All of this Cortes pretty much single-handedly destroyed, whether it was through the spread of disease, conquest, or colonization.I guess the point that I'm trying to make here is that a great function this book performed for me was helping me eliminate more of my own xenophobia for the Aztec people. I mean, it might sound absurd when you're talking about a civilization that's been gone for hundreds of years that no one will ever have to interact with but it was nice to see them as human faces instead of these weird sadistic people that pretty much got rightfully exterminated (this is just what I gleaned from my outdated American textbooks in school.) It's not easy to bring this kind of alien world to life in such a potent, extensive way that's also accessible to people from our time, and do it in a way that forces me to warn all of my nice older lady coworkers away from this book.

  • Maxine
    2019-04-17 15:27

    This was the first Gary Jennings book I ever read--and I was hooked forever! Jennings is one of my favorite authors and Aztec remains one of my top 5 all time great books. Aztec is a compelling story, unusual in that it is told from the point of view of one of the vanquished, rather than by the conquerors. Mixtli is one of the most memorable characters in fiction. He's noble, he's honest, he sees his own faults and those of the society he's part of. Through his eyes we see not only the grandeur of the Aztec civilization but also its corruption and shocking practices. We witness nobility and depravity, and finally the brutal destruction of a culture, as seen by one who lived it. When you read a Gary Jennings book, you are transported to the world he writes about. He was so masterful with his settings and characters, and so knowledgeable of his subjects that for the duration of the book, the reader feels out of place in his own world. When you finish this book, you'll feel you've lived in the Aztec world, and experienced its heartbreaking downfall. A world in which the Spanish are the savages and the society they destroyed, the true nobility. An unforgettable book.One caveat: Gary Jennings did not write for the squeamish. His books contain graphic and sometimes bizarre violence, and graphic and sometimes bizarre sex.If you can't deal with such realities of life, better stick to Jane Austen. But you'll be missing out on some truly great reading.

  • Austin Briggs
    2019-04-22 17:30

    This book may change you. At the very least, it’ll excite your imagination and insult your senses. Full of lust for life, written "in the field" in Mexico, the book is polarizing, and has drawn both admiration and outright disgust from a few generations of readers.It was the very first book I found when doing the competitive market research for my own writing about 10 years ago. Back then, I wanted to write a novel called “The Aztec”.Imagine the depths of my emotion when I found an immensely successful title of the same name by the late Gary Jennings, a brilliant historical novelist.Since then, I’ve re-read the book at least three times, and loaned it to many good friends. Predictably, some of them loved it, while others felt compelled to toss it into my face.Here's what I learned from this work.+ The Knowledge Shines Through:Per the official website of his estate, Gary Jennings wasn't able to afford the life in New York after deciding to focus on his writing. So he went south to Mexico where he lived, travelled and wrote for 12 years.His fascination with the country and its people comes across wonderfully in AZTEC, and his genuine joy at telling the story makes me come back to it over and over again.His writing style seems to have been formed by the very life he led. Having fought in a war, and having travelled widely across several continents, Jennings weaves his insights into human behaviors into the intricate plot that takes us to all the corners of the world known to his characters.His specific, visual writing leaves no doubt about what he wants to convey. No misunderstandings are possible, and he treats the most controversial subjects with confidence.The words are chosen with care, the scenes are complete, and the text is easy to read. He was having fun writing, and the fun comes across and draws the reader into his world.That world isn't only unique and engaging; it's colored with nostalgia for the wealth of cultures, languages and peoples of the old Mexico, erased from our society’s collective memory by the self-serving Spanish priests and warlords.From the first pages Jennings grounds us firmly in one of the classic scenes of the time. An elderly ‘native’ relates his life story to a group of scribes in service of the Catholic Church, which seeks to understand the native mentality to make its conversion efforts more efficient. However, this native goes well beyond the usual recital of ritualistic incantations that fill so many Aztec codices.From the awing descriptions of the Mexico’s lands, to the minute details of flush toilets, the sights, smells, and sensations of the time are reproduced impeccably. The level of detail may slow the story somewhat; but every time I read this book, I forget about time. The text is so visually and sensually compelling that the experience is like that of watching a movie, or having a vivid dream.I’ve read a lot of the source material, and I guarantee that many facts follow the established scholarly tradition. Jennings had discovered some delightful historical episodes that truly add to our understanding of the world we have lost.+ The Strong Character can Carry 1036 Pages … and more:Love him or hate him, but Mixtli ("Dark Cloud") 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, and his no-nonsense, observant and humorous voice temps you to keep the pages turning in search for new revelations.Some people complained that Mixtli tends to find himself in all the right places at the right times, ala an Aztec Forrest Gump of sorts. He draws maps of foreign lands for his nation’s rulers, he’s in the midst of every juicy political scandal of the time, he meets Hernan Cortes and Dona Marina, and he even invents the modern Mexican flag.I don’t mind.Way larger than life, Mixtli guides us in our explorations of almost all the known aspects of his world. Over his shoulder, we see the beauty of Tenochtítlan years before its destruction, we explore the little tribal villages on the many trade routes, and we witness the sacrifices and the feats of Aztec medicine.The secondary characters may not be as rich, but they’re believable, and their eventual deaths still disturb me.The book is honest and brave in diving straight into the deepest temptations and dilemmas we humans face. A lesser author couldn't have done it, but Jennings excels.+ The Plot can be Life Itself:Some folks seem to expect a fast-moving plot from this book which is probably a "milieu" novel rather than an event-driven story.The plot is the life itself, and every scene is in its place, following the stages of Mixtli’s life. He’s a warrior, a travelling merchant, a diplomat, a leader of a doomed group of settlers and even a historical researcher; and each life stage is explored in loving detail, almost becoming a novel in its own right.Even the most bizarre scenes (e.g. Mixtli puking onto the old whore, or having intercourse with his sister) move the story forward in more than one way, showing Jennings’ superb planning and execution.This brings me to the three grudges that I have with this novel. Because of these, to be honest, I refuse to read any of his other stories.Here come my 3 grudges- It's Easy to Succumb to your own Vision of ... Women:There's one aspect of the book which I couldn't quite stand by the end, and this is Jennings' trademark cookie-cutter women. I hate it when things become predictable.However in this novel, every lady even of a fleeting importance to Mixtli is a beauty of unbelievable grace, all too ready to inundate our well-endowed hero with her unconditional love, only to die an untimely and horrific death.Over and over again.When his incest-inclined sister dies (and her death still haunts my nightmares), Mixtli finds a lover. When a lover dies, he finds a wife. All breathtaking, of course. And between them, there's a procession of other beautiful women. Over and over again.Every such lady ends up worshiping his male member and indulging into all sorts of behaviors with him from regular incest to casual adultery. Over and over again.- There CAN be too much Sex:I have to diagnose Mixtli with a compulsive sexual disorder and a bad case of narcissism.I found his fixation on how every woman’s “tipili” looks and feels, and his unrestrained fascination with the size of his own “tipuli” tiring to no end. I’m no Puritan, and I’ve done my share of wild things in my travels, but even I was surprised.In this book, Jennings doesn't go to the extent of some of his Aztec sequels where every inch of a woman's genitalia is described in loving detail; but as it stands, some folks may find it a bit too much.There's temptation . . . and then there's smut.Here we come close to smut.- Historical Mistakes can be Forgiven . . . to a point:I'll be brief on this one, because I can't make up my mind on how much inaccuracy can be acceptable. Jennings does't make a singe silly mistake, as far as I can tell; he doesn't place Petra an arrow flight away from Sphinx, so to speak, like some writers do.But I'll just say this: the flow of conquest is distorted; Montezuma, whose rich and conflicted character is well-documented, is made into an impotent buffoon; Doña Marina comes across a bitch. Which is a shame, because these things are clearly done to serve the plot.I guess this can be forgiven, as our character has suffered as a direct consequence of Montezuma’s and Doña Marina’s actions. But I didn’t find all that mockery to be fair.In SummaryOverall, AZTEC is an engrossing book and a compelling read. It affected me deeply, and possibly changed me. How many books have done this to you?Cheers,Austin.

  • Yann
    2019-04-04 20:13

    *CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS*Ok, here is why the book isn't good and why you shouldn't read it.Do not read it if you're actually interested in the Aztecs or if you know about the Aztec culture, because the "so well researched" historical facts are wrong. Just the way the sacrifices are depicted is wrong! How can you get that wrong!? The Aztecs didn't break and split the ribcage open to get to the heart, they went through the STOMACH to tear the heart out! If I had the book here with me I would quote it, but it says something like :The Tlatoani (king) was like "yeah I can totally tear his heart out like a pro", so he starts stabbing the dude in the chest and break the ribs, then slides the obsidian blade in an angle to make a bigger gap, then he tears the heart out.WRONG! Moving on... What the hell is wrong with the author? There's a sex scene every 20 pages! And it's not shy and romantic sex. We have to deal with incest between the main character and his sister (15 and 13 years old), then a princess raping men, then raping a woman. I could deal with that ok, even though I was getting fed up with it, but what actually got me wild is the pedophile sex scene between the main character and his very very young slave boy! I cannot read through a passage that graphically talks about how a kid was moving his ass to pleasure a guy. This is WRONG, way too far Jennings! And I don't understand why people don't comment on it more in their reviews. And by the way the Aztecs weren't the ancient Greeks or Romans!Seriously, can you imagine if in the year 2400 an author wrote a book about nowadays western world, and what if it took 12 years of "research" to write it, and what if the only thing they came up with was "westerners were all doing cocaine and having sex in clubs"? Well that's what he did with the Aztec culture. An amazing culture reduced to sex with prostitutes and little boys having their genitals cut off for no reason.Another point that actually annoyed me. The book is about the old main character telling his story to Spanish priests years after the conquest. Every single time there's a sex scene, the main character finishes it by saying "oh sorry mister priest, is it too much for you? can you not handle a bit of Tepuli(Aztec word for "ding-dong" apparently)?". The first time it happens, I thought it was funny, the second time was ok... but after the 10th time it gets really old and annoying. And it goes on and on... Plus the Aztecs were very pious and strict with their morals. For example being drunk on the street meant death by stoning. I really don't think anyone would actually brag about having an erection whislt they were drawing a woman who was being raped by another woman right in front of their face.To conclude on this review I would say that 12 years of writing and researching to come up with something inaccurate is laughable, I would even dare say, 12 years of writing to come up with a very poorly plotted porn novel is outrageous! To whoever says this in an amazing historical novel, and to all of you who are paid to review books... Seriously? 5 stars? Really? Setting a porn novel in the Aztec times doesn't make it historical. If you ever wondered what it would be like to read a completely inaccurate historical porn novel, well there you go, you have it ;-) Enjoy!

  • Stephanie
    2019-04-20 20:16

    This book is completely brilliant. Let me assure you that yes, it is graphically violent and a tragedy from beginning to end. Perhaps only the last quarter or so involves the Spanish, so anyone who harbors any delusions about the "noble savage" will be greatly disappointed. I myself am not particularly prone to those sorts of romanticizations. Be that as it may, to some degree I can understand the notion of human sacrifice far better than I can understand the actions of the Spanish. I don't condone it, true, and it was gruesome, yes, but there was a sort of honesty to it along with a general public consensus. A flowery death is a fairly quick thing, unlike being burned at the stake, regardless of the things done to the body after the fact. Oddly, I spent a goodly amount of time laughing while reading this...not that any of it was in and of itself particularly funny. I can't honestly say I know why. Perhaps I was amused by bits of irony or absurdity or agreement. Perhaps you just have to be Pagan of some flavor to find it funny. Humor aside, it is loaded with sage remarks.If I had to compare it to anything, I would compare it to The Mists of Avalon, being the same sort of powerfully moving theme of the struggle to preserve what little is left. I can honestly say I was more horrified by the Spaniards melting down the gold works of art to make it into ingots and razing Tenochtitlan to the ground than I was by any preceding grisly ceremony of human sacrifice. Whatever merit there was or wasn't to the Aztec culture, only pale slivers and ruins of it remain.

  • Isabella
    2019-04-11 18:19

    This book is a Historical Fiction masterpiece. It’s cruel and raw, adventurous and passionate, at times even perverse, and in the end heart breaking.It is the story of the Aztec civilization and its conquest by the Spaniards.This book has blood in it, cruelty, sexuality, freaks, incest, war, struggle, a lost love, and an unfulfilled one…What more could you ask?

  • Karen
    2019-04-07 23:10

    The Aztec series is my guilty pleasure. This first book in the series has 900-ish pages of lush, incredibly intricate, dramatic and absorbing detail about Aztec life up to the Conquistadors' arrival. Interspersed with porn. No wonder the Aztecs didn't die out--they worked very diligently to make more Aztecs. Says Gary Jennings. :)

  • Allison
    2019-04-05 22:05

    I finally realized, in this massive novel that goes nowhere, that the best analogy for this steaming pile is Forrest Gump. Oh, no, certainly not on the enjoyment factor, i like me the box o' chocolates, but in the implausibility of this no name individual (Head Nodder, Mixtli, whatever he is going by in that chapter in his life,) being so important in so many pieces of history, and all these gigantic events happening around him, just like Forrest. Except, it's just about all bad things (squeamish folks, stop reading now.) Such as him being forced to work under a royal woman who kills her lovers then has them turned into gold statues, based on their skeletons. His loyal companion getting neutered forcibly. His daughter being skinned alive as part of a ritual.Essentially, it paints a picture of a culture so bloody and with a complete lack of respect for life that I had a very hard time caring. I only finished it because I have completion issues. I don't know how it made it to the best seller list, because it was boring, bloody, and a burden to read.

  • Greg
    2019-04-11 15:12

    I read this a number of years ago and as I recall, this was a fascinating read and it's just short of being a five-star masterpiece to me. It's like a thrill ride, a roller coaster that would have been sensationally perfect had you not had to wait two hours in line to experience the ride itself. Jenning's doesn't know the term "restraint": everything is over the top. There is a stupendous, relentless level of violence and gore: let's just call it what it is, torture porn. And the sex, well, it's everywhere, all the time, and some of it is just way, way past the point of believability, veering toward impossibility. I have never thought I would actually write the following words, but here goes: this is a case where a Reader's Digest condensed version, taking out about 100 pages of simply unbelievable violence and sex, would have resulted in a 5 star masterpiece. I do recommend it, though, to lover's of historical fiction. But with a warning: this book leaves NOTHING to the imagination, and sometimes, as a reader, I just don't want to know EVERY little detail.

  • Noah Coad
    2019-04-12 23:13

    One of the most eye opening, intense, and enjoyable books I've ever read. Recommended to me by my grandmother, a devout conservative catholic, I was almost shocked she'd read such an intense book (go grandma!). Gary Jennings spent over a decade researching the Aztec culture and created this non-fiction based fictional story about a culture so incredible different from our own, and yet even more cultured in some ways. The story follows an Aztec man who's captured by the Spanish Inquisition and regales his life story from pauper to prince. Prepare yourself for a journey of intense and bazaar sexual acts, lavish environments, bloody sacrifices, and an opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone and into a different world that's not all that far away.

  • Casey
    2019-04-22 19:35

    I'd recommend this book to anyone who like historical fictions, or intense fictions in general. I read it for the first time seven years ago, and it still is one of the most memorable books I've read. Jennings' writing is raw and unforgiving; he has an in-your-face style that can make you cringe, feel heavy hearted, and give you an unbelievable adrenaline rush during any given scene. I'm surprised to see that other readers gave his follow up books to this slightly higher ratings; for me, Aztec was much more engaging than Aztec Autumn and Aztec Blood (although I have yet to read Aztec Rage).

  • Ms.pegasus
    2019-04-19 20:15

    Jennings' lengthy novel is structured as a tragedy. The main character is a civilization, the tragedy is its inevitable destruction. Its life was governed, however brutal or unfair, by codes of behavior and ritual that promised stability and continuity. This was The One World. Its heart was the plaza of Tenochtitlan; its pulse was a cycle marked by the passage of the sun across the sky, the passage of months from spring planting to spring planting, the passage of 52 years in the cycle of life when the solar and divine calendars coincided, and with proper caution, ritual, humility and appeasement, the destruction of the world would once again be staved off and the new cycle of 52 years would begin.It helps that this world is viewed as it approaches its zenith through the eyes of the narrator, Mixtli, as a child, born in 1466 during the reign of Motecuzó I. Even he admits that the grandeur he depicts might reflect the memories of an impressionable boy seeing the capital for the first time. Yet, we feel some of that excitement of the vanished past in this description of their feathered banners:“...those incredibly long banners of Tenochtítlan were woven of feathers — feathers from which the quills had been removed and only the lightest down used for the weaving....there were all the colors that come only from living nature, not from man-mixed paint pots. But most marvelous, those banners did not sag or flap, they floated. There was no wind that morning. Just the movement of people on the streets and acáltin [canoes] in the canals stirred enough air current to support those tremendous but almost weightless pennants. Like great birds unwilling to fly away, content to drift dreamily, the banners hung full-spread in the air. The thousands of feather banners undulated gently, soundlessly, magically, over all the towers and pinnacles of that magical island-city.” (p.52)Of course, the image of the Aztecs that lingers foremost in the mind is the bloody sacrifices made to slake the thirst of capricious gods. Jennings does not stint on those descriptions. The dedication of the great pyramid, its stair troughs awash with blood, the mouths of the statuary overflowing with human hearts, is not even the most horrifying of those depictions. Yet, Jennings is able to offset some of our revulsion with reminders of contemporaneous and future Spanish religious atrocities: the expulsion of the Jews, the expulsion of the Moors, and the Inquisition with its widespread torture and hideous burnings at the stake. As Mixtli dictates the parallel history of his life and the Aztec civilization's rise and fall, Catholic friars record his story for conveyance to King Carlos (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor). Their reactions ranging from patronizing to smug self-serving rationalizations are a reminder that cruelty was not the sole property of the Aztec civilization. Even the explicit and numerous sexual incidents, which Jennings describes with pornographic and genuinely creepy detail, pale next to the rape and violence perpetrated by Cortez's armies as depicted in the later chapters.Misogyny is a prominent recurrence in this story. Mixtli's life is plagued by a succession of reprehensible women: his mother, his older sister Tzitzitlíni (Nine Reed), Chálchiunénetl (Jadestone Doll, the new wife of the “Reverend Speaker” of Texcoco), Quequelmíqui (Ticklish, his housemaid), and finally Ce-Malináli (One Grass, a slave girl). Perhaps it is this thread, along with Mixtli's fatalistic acceptance that distanced me from him as a sympathetic character. There is a telling explanation early in the book that reflects a certain attitude toward women. The High Treasurer, second only to the “Reverend Speaker” is called the Ciuacóatl, or “Snake Woman.” He is always a man. A guide explains, only half in jest:“My own theory is that it is because both snakes and women coil tight around any treasures they may hold.” (p.62)Nevertheless, Mixtli does have an interesting life. His aptitudes for writing and languages and his travels as a merchant take the reader through the many territories comprising the Aztec world. It becomes clear that this world was no more an empire than the Holy Roman Empire of Charles V. The ruler of Tenochtítlan was not even called emperor, but rather “Reverend Speaker.” Only with the ascension of Motecuzó II did he claim the title of “Reverend Speaker of the One World.” The One World was actually a loose collection of territories and city-states, each with a local structure of chiefs, and dialects or even languages which were quite different from Náhuatl, which was the lingua franca of the region. Even within the confines of the Valley of Mexico, the people referred to themselves as Mexíca, not Aztecs. After reading Yuri Herrera's SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD, I became interested in learning more about Aztec mythology. The allusions in his chapter headings were explained in a brief passage describing the funeral of Motecuzó II's predecessor, Ahúitzotl. “The Water Crossing” refers to a black river that must be crossed with the guidance of a particular dog. “The Place Where the Hills Meet” is an allusion to two drifting mountains that can unexpectedly crush anyone trying to pass between them. “The Obsidian Mound” refers to a mountain of obsidian chips so sharp they will cut the feet. “The Place Where the Wind Cuts Like a Knife” seems to allude to a ceaseless biting rainfall that assaults the traveler. “The Place Where Flags Wave” alludes to a forest of poles whose flapping pennants blind and confuse the traveler. Only after passing these barriers did the dead person have a chance to enter Míctlan and submit his payment for passage into the afterworld. (p.638) The real strength of the story, however, is not mythology, but its epic depiction of mesoamerica before the conquest. Anyone planning a trip to Mexico should read this book. It recreates a sensibility that brings history to life and offers depth to the culture of present-day Mexico. I found the storyline less interesting, however. Jennings interweaves it skillfully with his historical research, but I found the characters less compelling than those in his SPANGLE trilogy.NOTES Map of Lake Texoco area slides of artwork and sculpture, one of the areas Mixtli visits in his travels map of Mexico

  • Erin M.
    2019-04-04 22:17

    When I first picked up this book, I was skeptical. The first few pages move fairly slowly and are written as letters in the dry and formal archaic style one would expect from a subject writing to his king. There is also a fair sprinkling of long and unfamiliar words in the Nahua tongue, the primary language spoken by Aztecs, but once one gets the feel for the words and the way they might have sounded, the difficulty with them lessens. The story is set in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, in Mexico after Spanish conquest. The conquerers know little about this new land, its culture, or its people, so the King of Spain has asked for information. The information comes in the form of the elderly Aztec Mixtli, who, having learned the Spanish language, has agreed to tell his story. He is a good man for the job, for in his life, he has brushed shoulders with princes and kings, slaves and commoners, has worked as a scribe, a warrior, and a traveling merchant. In his time, he lived to see the rise and fall of a civilization that had reached legendary proportions of influence, wealth, and fame. It becomes immediately evident that Mixtli is not your typical hero, but a man with deep personal flaws. He is intelligent, brutally honest, and often mercilessly driven to achieve his goals. He is real, raw, and excruciatingly human. I read somewhere a small anecdote of a man who was rewarded for telling King Motecuzoma the truth. Gary Jennings must have had this in mind when creating the character of Mixtli.We figure out early on that our jilted narrator can be depended on for relaying events in grim detail, no sugar on top. If you like a soft story where brutal or sexual things are only implied and everyone has a happy ending, this one is not for you. He spares us nothing, I mean, absolutely nothing.I couldn't name too many strong emotions I did not feel while reading this book, including wonder, dismay, and disgust. I was also awed by the amount of research that went into it. My favourite sort of novel is one with a mixture of fact and fiction, education and adventure, and in this aspect, Aztec does not disappoint. I learned more about Aztec culture in this book than I have in all my time of personal research on this subject. The story is absolutely unforgettable; full to the brim with rich visceral detail, to the point where it can nearly overwhelm. It's been two years since I read this book, and still the images are etched into my mind; the corroding remains of the Mayan culture, the blinding glare of whitewashed pyramids, the hot lime dust of the rock quarry, the tangled smelly nest of the priests' hair. Aztec is a feast for the senses!

  • Tracey
    2019-04-11 16:21

    My GOD this man could write. He's from my hometown, and lived not so far away from my house, and I could never arrange a meeting while (and being I'm not a stalker and respected the crap out of this guy, I didn't try too hard). A complete enigma to me; massive genius. I might have been scared to meet him, in fact — loved his writings, but they were so graphic that I believe I feared meeting someone who could imagine such brutality.I love historical fiction, and Jennings' works tackle times that aren't politically correct to tackle with such honesty; but I'm not a fan of sugar-coating history, either. That being said, this book, albeit with such historical verisimilitude, engaging characters, and subtle dialogue, could have benefited from a tad less gruesome detail; it can be hard to read on a full stomach, and the unsettling images last for years.Jennings deals us an engaging story that's so descriptive that you can put the book away and half-expect to be IN that world; he draws you in as an observer, and you don't feel safe in that world. Such immersion can be horrifying, especially in dealing with cannibalism and sacrifice, but you come away feeling like you have a better understanding of a completely lost and foreign culture. That's the highest praise I can give to an historical fiction.And after reading this tome, I never wanted to visit and SEE the historical sites for a fictional work so much, maybe if just to test the truthfulness, and possibly to mourn the loss, of such a society. You come away feeling that there's blood on everybodys' hands: the Aztecs, the conquerors, ...humanity. But in a good way, that doesn't leave room for judgment, but rather for thought. Aztec works as a great equalizer.My criticism would certainly be that his writing is so compelling, and the violence so disturbing, that if it's not as truthful as it seems, could be an unfair indictment against an entire society. In other words, Jennings is such a good storyteller, and has so much actual history to back him up, that he needed to be very careful that his dramatics doesn't leave an unfair portrayal of that society.I think if you read this keeping in mind that it's historical FICTION, you can get a good understanding of a society that ritually sacrifices and consumes humans. It will leave an impression on your soul, imo, about what humanity is capable of.I loved it; will reread it again. Mindblowing.

  • Mike
    2019-04-10 21:14

    Sometimes a book is in your stars, you are fated to read it. I had this book for years, carted it around the world, but never could get beyond the first page. Threw it out several times but always picked it out of the trash, tried to sell it at garage sales, my wife threw it out...rescued again. Then one day I picked it up and started reading. And never put it away until I finished. It is a game-changing book, opening you to a world that you simply never knew existed. It isn't so much the story about Mixtli, it's the completely believable society of the Azteca before, during and just after the Spaniards arrive. It is a huge story and needs all 1000+ pages to do justice. Highly recommended if you want to know about a mythic society that was destroyed by the Hispanic tidal wave of the time. How that society fell from power is a fascinating story.

  • Nathan
    2019-04-24 20:32

    8 months later . . . I'm finally finished! At over 1,000 pages this book was a marathon, and I'm glad to be done with it. I read it in hundred page spurts and sometimes wouldn't touch it for a month or so, so that's why it took so long. The most valuable part of this book for me was learning about the history of Mexico and Central America before the Spaniards and during the conquest. The book also does tell a good story and follows it's protagonist through ups and downs and fascinating journeys that will keep you wanting to know what comes. I'd say if you're interested in this History the book is well worth your time. If not, you still may be interested in the story it tells as well.

  • Victor
    2019-04-26 18:06

    Siempre he sostenido que los libros son los mejores maestros a los que uno puede aspirar en el transcurso de una vida. Al finalizar una lectura de ese estilo, no debemos guardar el libro y dejar que el polvo del olvido se asiente en las palabras que nos ha dicho. Todo lo contrario, hay que tenerlo siempre a mano y recurrir a él, con humildad y reverencia, para hallar en esas conocidas páginas el consejo que hemos olvidado. No me sale otra reseña de este libro. Una belleza recomendable.

  • Althea Ann
    2019-04-05 15:06

    This book may have taken me longer to read than any I can remember. It got to the point where people who know me would see me with it and say, "Wow, you're STILL reading that?"Admittedly, it's over 1000 pages... but still!After such a time-investment, one might like to feel a sense of literary accomplishment (or something) – but no. This was definitely the trashiest 1000+ pages I have ever read.I got the distinct impression that before sitting down to write the book, Jennings made a list of all the taboo topics, assorted acts of violence, and sexual perversions he could think of and said, "OK, we're gonna get all these into the book, somehow." And he did.The book is framed as the story of the life of Mixtli, an aged member of the Mexica tribe, which he tells to the Spanish Inquisition, on the order of the King of Spain. This of course, gives plenty of opportunity for the Spanish priests to comment on how shocking Mixtli's doings are – in case the reader hadn't noticed. From humble origins (and a forbidden sexual relationship with his sister), Mixtli rises to a significant position in the Aztec empire (and wanders about having all sorts of adventures), before the arrival of Cortez, and his people's subsequent fall. (which is actually portrayed quite well, I thought.) My main issue with the book is that all the "shocking" content is not portrayed in the interest of describing (or even exploiting) different cultural mores... most of the stuff (although not all) is described as taboo in Mixtli's society too. And it's all done from the point of view of things that would be shocking to a Westerner, not shocking to an Aztec. Jennings was playing with his readers – not his story.That said, I cannot deny that the book was entertaining all the way through....

  • Lasiter
    2019-04-19 18:30

    Qué libro tan bueno!, es una historia bien contada, con personajes creíbles y una visión interesante de ese mundo que se perdió. Y es que la novela no solo trata sobre los últimos años del mundo Azteca, es mas una mirada sobre el mundo precolombino en Centroamérica y parte de Norteamérica. Me gusta el equilibrio que maneja en el sentido de no andar exaltando ni denigrando el mundo precolombino, casi que se limita a describirlo. No sé que tan cerca está de la realidad histórica, pero después de leer la novela, dejándome llevar de la mano de Jennings, quiero creer que la realidad fue muy parecida a como él la describe. Otro aspecto que me llamó la atención fue la forma como caracteriza a los personajes, no parecen hombres del siglo XX ubicados en el siglo XVI, no, estos personajes son diferentes, su forma de pensar, su visión del mundo es otra. En fin es un libro imprescindible para todo aquel que le guste la Novela Histórica.

  • Carlos
    2019-04-21 21:12

    Gennings hizo mucha investigacón antes de escribir. Es agradable ver el mundo azteca de nuevo con sus costumbres, olores y sabores. Gennings como de costumbre se explaya en descripciones detalladas de escenas de un contenido francamente erótico. Tambien son prolíficas sus descripciones de crueldad y ritos sangrientos. No apto para estómagos sensibles.

  • Alvaro Cardenas
    2019-04-01 20:14

    Apasioante y cautivadora historia de los aztecas antes y durante la llegada de los españoles narrada en forma de novela historica desde la visión de un indígena llamado Mixtli. Un must para los amantes de este genero.El autor del libro tardo 7 años en escribir el libro, y a traves de su relato nos damos cuenta lo rica y magnifica que era la cultura Mexica antes de la conquista espiritual y cultural, al final, si eres Mexicano sentirás un profundo orgullo por tus raíces, debido a que las culturas prehispanicas poseeían un enorme sentido religioso, cultural y militar. Del libro podemos darnos cuenta de donde surgen nuestros mas arraigados defectos y complejos como Nación.

  • Iceman
    2019-04-02 20:28

    Gary Jennings, autor reconhecido em todo o mundo como um dos melhores autores do género romance histórico, era um homem muito erudito que levava a cabo intensas e rigorosas pesquisas antes de escrever os seus livros.Falecido em 1999, Jennings deixou ao mundo um conjunto de obras aclamadas pela crítica, entre as quais “Asteca” que comporta as obras, em Portugal, “Orgulho Asteca” e “Sangue Asteca”, dois volumes.Fascinado pelos Astecas, Gary viveu durante 12 anos no México. Aprendeu espanhol antigo e passou todos esses anos a viajar pelas selvas mexicanas e a ler textos antigos, tanto dos Mexica (Astecas) como dos espanhóis. Assim começou a criar todo o exótico mundo asteca, dando a esta obra uma autenticidade única, pois toda ela é baseada em factos verídicos.Publicado pela editora “Saída de Emergência”, estes dois volumes, conforme referi acima, compõem a obra “Aztec” e é uma das melhores obras que já li, sem dúvida a mais realista e brutal.Em 1519 Herman Cortez chega à costa do império Mexica. Confundido com o Deus Quetzalcoatl que, diziam as tradições Mexica, regressaria vindo do mar precisamente nessa altura, faz com que os senhores dos impérios não levantem armas contra os homens barbudos. Após várias intrigas com os povos subjugados pelos poderosos Mexica, equipado por apenas alguns cavalos, poucas centenas de soldados e meia dúzia de peças de artilharia, consegue chegar à cidade estado do império, devastando-a.Pouco tempo depois o rei de Espanha ordena ao bispo da Nueva España que lhe faculte toda a informação sobre a vida, costumes e tradições daquele exótico e estranho povo agora vassalo de Espanha. O bispo, contra sua vontade, decide convocar um ancião asteca, iniciando assim a narração das suas memórias e, claro, do modo de vida e das tradições astecas.No primeiro livro, “Orgulho Asteca”, seguimos o jovem Mixtli na sua vida familiar e no início da sua vida activa na sociedade Mexica. Nas suas memórias, relatadas com detalhe, ficamos a conhecer como funcionava aquela sociedade. No segundo livro, “Sangue Asteca”, continuamos a seguir a vida de Mixtli, já adulto com uma posição, e uma sociedade que se debate então com a chegada dos deuses prometidos ou de estranhos estrangeiros. Esse capítulo marca o fim desta civilização, dando-nos então a conhecer a verdadeira história da subjugação espanhola em simultâneo que nos fornece outras histórias que nos permitem entender alguns dos mitos acerca de cidades de ouro, etc. Curioso saber, entre muitas outras curiosidades, que foram os próprios espanhóis a fazer com que o fabuloso tesouro asteca se tivesse perdido.Bom, mas o que ele vai narrar vai chocar não só o austero bispo, como toda a sociedade ocidental.Uma obra poderosa, portentosa e brutal que descreve os alicerces onde assentava essa civilização, o modo como viviam, como desfrutavam os prazeres da vida, da religião que lhe dava permissão para todo o tipo de prazeres…, a forma como viam os brancos e a estranheza de os mesmos serem tão arcaicos…Guerras, incesto, assassinatos, canibalismo e rituais religiosos sangrentos marcam uma civilização cheia de preconceitos, medos e fascínio pelo sobrenatural.Uma obra violentíssima, exótica e muito sensual. A descrição dos actos de canibalismo, assassinatos, envolvimentos sexuais e dos rituais são arrepiantes. O à vontade e a naturalidade com que Mixtli narra a sua história vai contra tudo o que é considerado convencional pelos europeus.Um épico notável que aconselho vivamente aqueles que gostam do género histórico, diria até para quem gosta de História pura, pois este é mais que um romance, é um documento histórico sobre os Mexia, os Astecas.Com esta obra entramos no mais íntimo daquele povo, somos transportados ao seu coração, à sua alma e vivemos o auge de uma colossal civilização.

  • Joseph
    2019-04-22 18:19

    Epic and picaresque and tragic. This is the story of Mixtli Dark Cloud, born sometime in the latter part of the 15th Century, whose tonalí leads him from his father's stone quarry to Tenochtitlan in the heart of the Aztec empire, and all up and down from the Mayan jungles in the south to the trackless deserts of the north, driven ever by his need to know and explore (and by Jennings' need to insert him, Forrest Gump-like, into many of the seminal events in the twilight years of the The One World). And then come tales from the eastern coasts of giant, floating houses with wings on the sea, and of the strange, bearded men they disgorge ...The book is structured as a memoir/interrogation -- an old Mixtli, sometime around the year 1540, is relating his life story (and, not incidentally, the history of his people) to Franciscan friars who are sending his memoirs piecemeal to the King (each section prefaced by an increasingly distraught letter imploring the King to let them stop listening to this garrulous savage's tales of his disgusting exploits). This lets Jennings get in some fine moments where Mixtli, when relating some particularly off-color sexual exploit, e.g., will pause to note that Brother Francisco has had to leave the room abruptly. Mixtli himself is something of a charming scoundrel, although he's also not safe to be around -- by the end of the book, pretty much everyone he's ever known has died, whether at the hands of other inhabitants of The One World, Spaniards, disease or natural disaster, some quite horrifically.Splendour and sex and pageantry and violence and adventure and more sex and then maybe some more violence and quaint local customs; and either a stunning amount of historical research or a stunning amount of just making things up; or some combination thereof. Utterly compelling.

  • Francis
    2019-03-30 21:25

    This tome took me longer to finish than I had thought it would (although having a 3-month old baby at home, as well as my 3-year old son is probably to blame). However, I quite enjoyed this read. It's been on my TBR pile for about 15 years or so. This book is shocking. This book is humorous. This book is based on a real civilization which at one time was magnificent. I really started to get hooked on the book when I started to use the internet to search some of the events that were mentioned in the book. When I began to see that these events did occur in real life, the book took on a whole new meaning. From the sacrifices to the conquest by the Spaniards, it was quite a thrilling read. I actually want to find some non-fiction books about the Aztec people. I find it super interesting.I really enjoyed Mixtil's narrative, especially his humor when talking with the priests. It kept me engaged throughout. Luckily I have the next two books in the series (Aztec Autumn and Aztec Blood. I will Aztec Autumn after I take a day or two to digest this book as a whole.

  • Nate
    2019-03-31 17:33

    An epic historical novel in the Michener/Clavell tradition, Aztec delivers the goods, transporting the reader to a fascinating world, sadly lost to European conquest. While I'm usually reluctant to read first-person narratives, Jennings' Mixtli had me from the first page, and the novel never dragged. I have to point out that the misogyny in the novel is ridiculous. Every evil that occurs--from the trivial to the epic--is the result of some devious woman, and yet the narrator never contemplates his penchant for pinning the blame on the ladyfolk. The trend reaches an almost farcical apex when he relates how the fall of the Aztec nation is brought about by an upstart slave woman whose thirst for power and prestige brings down genocide on her people. At that point, I almost laughed.That aside, the novel has so many interesting cultural tidbits, suspenseful moments and unexpected turns of fortune that it is well worth the time getting through it. I honestly wished it was longer!Not high literature, by any stretch, but far better than your typical supermarket fare. Highly recommended for fans of similar epic historical fiction.