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Five Dances with Death: Dance One [Kindle Edition]

Austin Briggs
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $3.99

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Book Description

In the days before the Conquistadors, Xicotencatl (Angry Wasp) is fighting to keep his family and his small Aztec nation alive.

Slavers have kidnapped his daughter. His wife has turned to powerful sorcery. His people have challenged Montezuma's dominance and now face extinction. And the Spaniards have begun their march inland.

Now Wasp must rely on his military prowess, wit and even dark magic to regain his family and protect the independence of his nation, as he begins a desperate journey that will forever change the fate of the Aztec people.


FIVE DANCES WITH DEATH is a rare and compelling tale conjured from the magical realm of the Aztec Empire. Brilliantly researched, and a page-turner as good as any, Austin Briggs has proved himself to be a worthy master of the writer's craft. I recommend this book highly, and regard it as a great achievement of historical fiction.

Tahir Shah, Author of The Caliph's House, etc.


"An amazing story of a leader who faces incredible trials while trying to keep his people safe."

Reader Views "Reviews, by readers, for readers"


A fresh and welcome change. Fluent, warm, and engaging writing... draws the reader into Wasp's heart from the moment the story opens.

William Greenleaf, author of The Tartarus Incident and The Pandora Stone.


The writing is good and the story is fun... An amazing imagination. This book truly is excellent.

Arnold Friedman, Editor.

Editorial Reviews


A rare and compelling tale . . . brilliantly researched, and a page-turner as good as any. Austin Briggs has proved himself to be a worthy master of the writer's craft. I recommend this book highly, and regard it as a great achievement of historical fiction.

Tahir Shah, explorer, documentary filmmaker and author of 15 books. 

An amazing story of a leader who faces incredible trials while trying to keep his people safe.

Reader Views: "Reviews by readers, for readers"

A unique novel that really blew me away.

SomeCallmeTim, Amazon Reviewer. 

Masterful and evocative.

B. Siemens, Amazon Reviewer. 

From the Author

I know what happened to the Aztecs. Don't you?
A first grader would tell you that a small band of European adventures brought the Aztec empire to its knees. Steel and gunpowder shattered the weapons of wood and stone. Modern strategies conquered the primitive tactics of native war. European enlightenment bested cannibalistic barbarism.
But did it really happen that way?
What were the true reasons for a powerful native American empire to crumble under a push from five hundred famished, insecure Spaniards deeply divided among themselves?
For ten years, I've been exploring the answer to this question.
I've read the most obscure Aztec and Spanish documents. I've travelled throughout Mexico by foot, car and bus, enjoying the hospitality of its wonderful people and having a few narrow escapes from dangers on its lonely roads.
I danced with the native Mexicans around their bonfires; learned Spanish and some Nahuatl to converse with the urbane young and the old folk of the countryside; I even partook in rites of sorcery.
In Five Dances with Death I share with you what I've learned from my travels and in my research. Meet the people I met; visit the locations I frequented or reproduced from the old documents; and, most of all, think and feel together with me.
These books aren't a comfy read. I don't beg for your sympathy to my protagonist because he loved puppies and helped the elderly. He was, after all, a born fighter, a sorcerer, a warrior who used to tear palpitating hearts out of his enemies' chests and treat his neighbors to stews made of his captives' limbs.
He was also a man who single-handedly resisted the Spanish advance into the Mexican heartland, and who died for his love to his nation.

Austin Briggs.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3158 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Helvetic House (August 1, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009JCP7X0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,702 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing August 25, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Austin Brigg's debut novel, Five Dances with Death, is a historical fantasy set during the time of the Spanish Conquest in Mexico. It follows the story of Wasp, the war leader of the Tlaxcalteca, who are besieged by the Mexica.

This book is fantastic. I just need to get that out there straight off. If you're at all interested in historical fantasy, or non-western thought, or Meso-American history, go ahead, go to Amazon and buy it. You won't regret it. Unless you hate gore and violence. It's not overly graphic, but descriptions of human sacrifice and war are common topics here.

It isn't purely historical, however. There is some mysticism and magic going on, but it serves as a device to allow us to see the big picture. Of course it would be difficult to express the scope of goings on without this intervention. In some books this might have been a little heavy handed on the part of the author, but here it is also used as a way for us to explore the mythology of the Azteca and to further understand our character.

There's a glossary at the beginning of the book that I didn't read before starting, because the Kindle book starts after it and I don't always go back to check if there's a map or a glossary. This time I had to go back and check because Nahuatl is a tongue twisting language and I wasn't familiar with all the nations that we were talking about.

On maps, I only had an idea of the areas that were talked about because I live in Texas and am pretty familiar with Northern Mexico. I hope that in the next book the author includes a map, because I'm afraid most people probably aren't familiar with the territory, and the travel in the book can get a little confusing for the thorough reader.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised August 4, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wasn't expecting much going into this, with it being self-published and all, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I don't have much trust in the quality of self-published stuff, but I'm willing to give anything about Aztec history and mythology a chance, so I downloaded a sample to see if it was something I would like. The writing style and pacing convinced me to buy. And I ended up quite enthralled with it.

Really, there's isn't much to not like about this book. The research shines through elegantly and is rarely delivered in clunky ways; it pretty much blends seamlessly in with the story. I wasn't overly fond of Angry Wasp in the beginning and there are some inconsistencies with his character (like him having no concept of rape as a tool of power...yeah, not buying that. He's a man of power whose fought in many wars and seen horrible things. Him not agreeing with its use, yes, but not realizing it could be used that way, no.), but he grew on my after a while. At no point did I feel bored with the story, and I was disappointed that there was no more for me to read once I got to the end.

I would have preferred the author use the actual Nahuatl names for the cities and the historical character, such as Moctezuma the Younger and Cuauhtemoc, but being familiar with the names, it's just a personal preference. I would have also have preferred to get the full 5 parts in one book rather than broken up, since this really isn't a very long novel, and if each part is a similar length, it's still nowhere near as long as Aztec. It does break at a good point though, and I will be looking for the rest of the installments.

Finally, the author calls this a "paranormal", but I think it's closer to fantasy than paranormal.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece! August 11, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
If this book had been my introduction to historical fiction (instead of Johnny Tremain) I might have tried to follow in Austin Briggs' footsteps (instead of Asimov's!) Five Dances With Death: Dance One is a fascinating foray into Nahuatl culture (native Mesoamericans) that captures the ritualistic, spiritual and all-pervasive violence of this distant and (to me) mysterious setting.

I can honestly say that from the start, Dance One grabbed me in a way that few books can, filling my mind with Briggs' exquisite details, the lavish way he paints each elegant element of not only "One World" but also the spirit world that binds and effects everyone who treads into or through Nahua lands. At the core of its fast-paced and exciting narrative, Dance One carries a beautiful expression and exploration of an almost unifying spiritual "theory" which sheds light on and captures the mind within a world of omens, spiritual doubles and persistent, hungry gods who tempt mortals and swallow souls in an endless game of evolution and creation. There is a mysticism that clings to everything (even the names) in Briggs' work that is rich and powerful, one that brings to mind the talent of such great authors as Storm Constantine and Neil Gaiman without losing focus on the story, the setting, or the voracious, visceral, animal heart that makes this book so gripping and so intriguing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Has its strengths, but at times a hard read
Lots of great information on the Aztecs seamlessly integrated into the narrative. The writing's solid and mostly unobtrusive, but what made reading this book a little hard at times... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a fan
This book is all bout Aztec culture and mythologies. I don't know much about the culture or the mythologies so this was hard to follow in some places. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Demonite
3.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Historical Fantasy
I received this LibraryThings' Member Giveaway free e-book from the author.

I rated Five Dances with Death, Dance One by Austin Briggs 3 stars for its creativity, but in... Read more
Published on August 9, 2012 by Hapa Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Place / Another Time
Austin Briggs really puts you into the completely alien world of the Aztecs. The blending of supernatural dreams and reality through the narrative is the perfect vehicle for the... Read more
Published on March 29, 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Aztec History
Austin Briggs does an excellent job of put historical events into an interesting story. The beginning of the conquest of ancient Mexico is the setting of Angry Wasp's attempts to... Read more
Published on February 9, 2012 by Quentin R. Stewart, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb experience of the Aztec culture and values
To those of us who learn about civilizations and history not through factual textbooks but through specific people stories - this is a true find! Read more
Published on January 18, 2012 by Irina K
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!
I LOVED this book! Great story and very unique. I loved the history and the atmosphere and the characters. I can't wait to read more from this author.
Published on January 11, 2012 by Edie
5.0 out of 5 stars An Aztec Thriller
Right away, I have to say that I loved this book. I enjoy historical fiction, and I have read quite a bit of anthropological and archaeological information on the Aztecs and other... Read more
Published on December 26, 2011 by Gunther
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pen & Muse Review
Briggs' debut novel, Five Dances with Death is an amazing historical fantasy set in the time of the Aztec nation. Read more
Published on December 24, 2011 by The Pen and Muse Book Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Beginning
I am wholly unfamiliar with the Aztecs and their history, although I did recognise the Spanish (then again, that was a really obvious). Read more
Published on December 23, 2011 by E-chan
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More About the Author

Austin Briggs has spent over 10 years researching the history of the Aztec Empire and the Spanish Conquest with a dream of creating a historical fiction series that would fascinate readers who like a good history-based tale. He even went so far as to experience some of the magical rites of the ancient Mexica himself.

He has always been obsessed with learning about other cultures; in addition to his time in the lands that were once occupied by the Aztec peoples, he has also lived in Russia, Japan, England, Switzerland, Cambodia, Lithuania, and Uzbekistan.

He has been a soldier in the army, an officer in the United Nations, and a global manager in a Fortune 10 company. He has been both a local and an outsider, a member of the majority and of a minority, which he feels makes him able to write from the perspective of multiple characters, all of whom have various levels of status and acceptance in their world.

We're often told that history is written by the winners. His stories are told from the perspective of those who lost -- though they went down fighting.

His fascination with the Aztec Empire during the time of the Spanish Conquest began because he is intrigued by the idea of a society that is about to lose itself entirely. He wanted to show how difficult and painful -- and sometimes strangely inspiring -- that process can be.

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