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The Well of Sacrifice Hardcover – March 30, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First novelist Eboch accomplishes quite a feat here: he manages to make the bloodletting rituals and human sacrifice practices of the Mayans the central point of this novel, yet creates a character readers will care deeply about: Eveningstar Macaw. Eveningstar, a resourceful and spunky girl, lives in a lavish city of gold near the jungle. Her brother, Smoke Shell, possesses the leadership qualities of a fearless noble who may one day sit on the throne. Her older sister, Feather Dawn, self-absorbed and haughty, has two redeeming virtues: her skill at the loom and her beauty. But when the ailing king dies and his high priest, Great Skull Zero, commands that all possible successors be thrown into the well of sacrifice to drown or be saved by the gods, Eveningstar vows to save her brotherAand to stop Feather from being married off to the conniving Zero. Eboch cushions a plot of treachery and heroism with lush details of daily life in a ninth-century Mayan city that's beginning to crumble. Here, fathers wear green quetzal feathers; mothers cook tortillas, pumpkin and papaya; and beautiful girls with slanted foreheads wear rings in their noses and heavy jade and gold jewelry that pulls down their earlobes. Readers may blanch at some of the descriptions of ceremonies and sacrifices ("The king pulled the end of the rope through his tongue and dropped it into the bowl.... He danced with blood pouring down his chest"). Watching this unorthodox 12-year-old girl outwit a high priest, escape jail, rescue her sister and more makes for a fast-paced read. An author's note describes the historical context for the tale. Ages 9-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Set in a large Mayan city during the ninth century, this well-written story follows the exploits of Eveningstar Macaw, the youngest daughter of a well-to-do merchant family. Rather than pursue the traditional custom of learning domestic arts and managing a household, she prefers to become a healer like her mother. When Eveningstar's brother, Smoke Shell, performs an act of heroism, the family is elevated to noble status. After the death of their popular king, Smoke Shell is considered a likely candidate as a successor, but an ambitious and unscrupulous high priest endangers anyone who is perceived as a competitor for the throne. After making an unsuccessful attempt to save her brother's life, Eveningstar becomes involved in efforts to thwart the plans of the high priest, risking her own safety. The adventures of this tenacious heroine are suspenseful and entertaining, providing readers with an exciting story and a realistic feel for everyday life in and ceremonial practices of the ancient Mayan culture. Well-researched historical fiction and a good read.
Cynthia M. Sturgis, Ledding Library, Milwaukee, OR
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 930L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; First Edition edition (March 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395903742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395903742
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Eboch writes a variety of genres for young people. She also writes for adults as Kris Bock (see below).

THE EYES OF PHARAOH, set in Egypt in 1177 BC, brings an ancient world to life. When Reya hints that Egypt is in danger from foreign nomads, Seshta and Horus don't take him seriously. How could anyone challenge Egypt? Then Reya disappears. To save their friend, Seshta and Horus spy on merchants, soldiers, and royalty, and start to suspect even The Eyes of Pharaoh, the powerful head of the secret police. Will Seshta and Horus escape the traps set for them, rescue Reya, and stop the plot against Egypt in time?

THE GENIE'S GIFT is a lighthearted action novel set in the fifteenth-century Middle East, drawing on the mythology of The Arabian Nights. Shy and timid Anise determines to find the Genie Shakayak and claim the Gift of Sweet Speech. But the way is barred by a series of challenges, both ordinary and magical. How will Anise get past a vicious she-ghoul, a sorceress who turns people to stone, and mysterious sea monsters, when she can't even speak in front of strangers?

BANDITS PEAK - While hiking in the mountains, Jesse meets a strange trio. He befriends Maria, but he's suspicious of the men with her. Still, charmed by Maria, Jesse promises not to tell anyone that he met them. But his new friends have deadly secrets, and Jesse uncovers them. It will take all his wilderness skills, and all his courage, to survive.

Readers who enjoyed Gary Paulsen's Hatchet will love Bandits Peak. This heart-pounding adventure tale is full of danger and excitement.

THE WELL OF SACRIFICE (Clarion Books, 1999) is a middle grade historical adventure set in ninth century Guatemala. Kirkus Reviews called The Well of Sacrifice, "[An] engrossing first novel.... Eboch crafts an exciting narrative with a richly textured depiction of ancient Mayan society.... The novel shines not only for a faithful recreation of an unfamiliar, ancient world, but also for the introduction of a brave, likable and determined heroine."

The HAUNTED series follows a brother and sister who travel with their parents' ghost hunter TV show. In each book, the TV show researches a new ghost at a new location. The kids try to help the ghosts, while keeping their activities secret from meddling grownups. The series, for ages 8-12, contains THE GHOST ON THE STAIRS, THE RIVERBOAT PHANTOM, and THE KNIGHT IN THE SHADOWS.

THE GHOST ON THE STAIRS is set at a Colorado hotel haunted by a ghost bride from the 1880s who is waiting for her missing husband to return. THE RIVERBOAT PHANTOM features a steamboat pilot still trying to prevent a long-ago disaster. In THE KNIGHT IN THE SHADOWS--winner of the 2010 New Mexico Book Awards in the category Juvenile Book--a Renaissance French squire protects a sword on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.

JESSE OWENS: YOUNG RECORD BREAKER, for ages 8-12, is written under the name M. M. Eboch. This is an inspiring story, focused on Jesse's childhood. Through hard work and courage, African-American runner Jesse Owens overcame racism, poverty and poor health. He won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, in Hitler's Germany, proving that Blacks could compete at the highest level.

Like JESSE OWENS, MILTON HERSHEY, YOUNG CHOCOLATIER, is part of Simon & Schuster's Childhood of Famous Americans series. It's an inspirational biography of chocolate king Milton Hershey. Plus, chocolate history!

Chris also writes for adults as Kris Bock.

Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Adventures

WHISPERS IN THE DARK: A young archaeologist seeking peace after an assault stumbles into danger as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. Can she overcome the fears from her past, learn to fight back, and open herself to a new romance?

THE MAD MONK'S TREASURE: The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends--a heretic Spanish priest's gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider. When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But she's not the only one after the treasure. Just how far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she's really made of?

COUNTERFEITS: After a decade struggling in the New York art world, Jenny Kinley discovers more danger, excitement, romance, and success at the New Mexico art camp she inherits. But her ex-con father has found his way home, too, with ruthless criminals following close behind. Will hidden paintings and past secrets prevent Jenny from building a better life?

WHAT WE FOUND: When Audra stumbles on a murdered woman in the woods, more than one person isn't happy about her bringing the crime to light. She'll have to stand up for herself in order to stand up for the murder victim. It's a risk, and so is reaching out to the mysterious young man who works with deadly birds of prey. But with danger all around, some risks are worth taking.

"The story has it all--action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship...."

"The action never stopped .... It was adventure and romance at its best."

"I couldn't put this book down. You'll love it."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I was in 6th grade my teacher was reading us "The Well of Sacrefice". It started like any other book but then it started to get better and better until it was like no other. I was never really intrested in stuff past the Revolutionary War but after this book I have been reading on the Mayans every chance I get. We would be in class, and the teacher would stop so we could go for a recess but we would rather give up are recess then stop reading. I enjoyed this book a lot and that is why I am making my voice heard. Sydni
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Maryam on October 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Eveningstar Macaw lives in an ancient Mayan city, where high priests and kings are the ultimate rulers. She helps her mother get herbs from the jungle for her mother is a healer. Eveningstar knows the jungle inside-out. One day she comes upon a group of 'savages' who are enemies of the Mayans. She immediately warns everyone in the city. The savages are caught and some are kept for sacrifice while the others are kept as slaves for the noblemen. Eveningstar met a savage boy in the jungle and named him Small. Evening Star's family took him in as a servant. Eveningstar's oldest brother, Smokeshell is met with much honor after the capturing of the savages for he helps capture them. When the old King Flint Sky god dies,the evil High Priest, Great Skull Zero is left to rule. Great Skull Zero does not want anyone to threaten his spot on the throne, so he calls out a list of men who will be thrown into the Well of Sacrifice. All of these men are noblemen, and are soldiers who are highly respected. Among the chosen men are Smokeshell and Feather Dawn's fiance.(Feather Dawn is Eveningstar's snotty and headstrong sister) Eveningstar quickly figures that Great Skull Zero is only having those soldiers killed for his own greed, and not for the Gods. From there the story takes a great leap from peaceful to dangerous and suspense-filled. Excellent book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When the king of the great Mayan city dies, the high-priest starts sacrificing anyone who stands in his way of being the most powerful man in the city. Only Eveningstar, a Mayan girl, has the courage to stand up to the evil high-priest and save her city.
"The Well of Sacrifice" is a fast-paced, exiting book filled with adventure, and is a great way to learn about the ancient Maya. There are many interesting plot twists. This book is also fun to read, and the words flow nicely. I would reccomend "The Well of Sacrifice" to almost anyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jason Golomb VINE VOICE on June 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Chris Bloch's "Well of Sacrifice" is a fictional anthropological tour of Maya life set during the tenth century just as the Maya civilization has peaked and the mighty Mesoamerican civilzation starts to crumble. This wonderful book, targeted at 6th grade and up, is strong in historical and cultural content and makes a terrific complement to an educational program, or in preparation for travel to the Yucatan or anywhere in Central America where the Maya had significant presence. Imbued with cultural context, Bloch's narrative makes the educational content fully engaging.

While Maya nobility and royalty play a key role in the story, the focus of Bloch's book is on the common people, specifically one young girl named Eveningstar Macaw, and how, through the will of her personality, changes this one Maya city. The Story is not action-filled until the last 40 pages or so, but it moves quickly and Evengstar is well-developed.

She's very respectful and religious, but not blindly so. She's free-thinking and logical, while also proscribing to her deep religious foundational beliefs (sacrifices and all).

Through Eveningstar, author Bloch takes the reader on a tour of Mayan society, and this what makes the book truly standout. We read about the Maya culture, religion, as well as their calendaring system. As Eveningstar finds her way through the difficulties of Mayan life, the reader learns about the society's professions, food, hobbies, trade, death rituals, medicinal and construction capabilities, and military. Bloch even builds a scene at a ball court, found at many Maya sites throughout Mesoamerica. The story concludes with a view into some of the climatological, military, religious and societal reasons as to why the Classic Maya age came to an end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By peacemom on October 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Well of Sacrifice by Chris Eboch is a very interesting and exicing book. The story is set in the Yucatan Peninsula in the ninth century, and tells about a Mayan girl trying to save her city. Eveningstar Macaw is a brave,adventurous and clever girl. The Well of Sacrifice is about how one Mayan city might have fallen apart.

In the beginning of the book, Eveningstar met a Savage. Though he was an enemy of her people, he was kind to her. Next, the king died and the high priest took over the city. With the help of the Savage, Eveningstar worked hard to save her family and the city, making the high priest very angry. Finally, the high priest threw Eveningstar into the Well of Sacrifice.

The author included many details about the life of the ancient Maya. For example, people in Eveningstar's city worshiped Mayan gods, like Itzamna and Ah Puch. Also, Eveningstar went out into the jungle to gather plants, such as snake root, to use as medicine. In addition, their food included tortillas, corn, fruits, squash and beans.

The Well of Sacrifice is an adventure-filled book. Readers ages nine and up would enjoy reading this book.
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