- Series: Aztec (Book 3)
- Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books (August 19, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812590988
- ISBN-13: 978-0812590982
- Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 1.1 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Aztec Blood Mass Market Paperback – August 19, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Never less than spellbinding, this golden tale is third in a series (after Aztec Autumn) and follows the exploits of a mestizo boy (half Aztec, half Spanish) in 16th-century New Spain, struggling for survival against Spanish nobles in league with the Inquisition. Cristo the Bastardo spins his tale from a dungeon prison between bouts of torture before his hanging. Raised among the legions of social outcast lperos, half-breed beggars hated by Indians and Spanish alike, Cristo is protected and illegally educated by Fray Antonio, a defrocked priest. When Fray Antonio is killed, 13-year-old Cristo is framed for the priest's death and only saved by the kindness of a young Spanish girl. Saved once again by a dashing rogue of a p¡caro, an adventurer, bad actor and playwright named Mateo, Cristo chances into the hands of the Healer, a traveling Aztec shaman who takes him on as an assistant. When the Healer compels Cristo to wriggle into an Aztec tomb to steal gold, they are caught by Don Julio, a brilliant converso (converted Jew) and a powerful noble in New Spain spying for the king. "Enlisted" by Don Julio to spy on suspected rebel groups and silver mine thieves, Cristo plays the role of Don Julio's cousin and meets the girl who saved him, now betrothed to a villainous wealthy Spaniard linked to the silver thefts. But Don Julio is betrayed to the Inquisition, and Cristo is enslaved in the deadly silver mines. Jennings spins a dashing, glittering tale, sending the redoubtable Cristo and irrepressible Mateo through the dingy streets of Veracruz, lean Aztec villages, grand Spanish haciendas, deadly silver mines and teeming Mexico City. Injustice has seldom been so keenly sketched nor valor so compellingly portrayed as in this swashbuckling adventure.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Following the pattern he established in Aztec (1980) and Aztec Autumn (1997), Jennings continues to retrace the remarkable history of the Aztec empire. Vanquished by the Spanish conquistadors, the once proud Aztec people are enslaved and condemned to toil on the grand haciendas owned by their conquerors. Cristo the Bastardo, the mixed-blood product of a union between an Aztec mother and a Spanish father, grows up on one such feudal estate, and he is despised by both the native indios and the European interlopers. Raised and educated by a kindly priest, Cristo is furtively taught to read and write in several languages. Risking excommunication and imprisonment during the harsh Inquisition era, Fray Antonio feeds the eager boy a steady diet of classical literature and trains him as a physician. When Cristo learns that his true parentage is shrouded in a mystery that endangers his life, he is forced to flee the only home he has every known. Arriving first in Veracruz and later in Seville, he perfects the art of the con, embarking on a transatlantic series of escapades with one goal in mind: to uncover the carefully guarded secret of his birth. The author has meticulously researched the tortuous history of the colonization of New Spain, revivifying the all-but-forgotten era upon whose brutal foundation the modern nation of Mexico was forged. This lush, exotic page-turner fairly crackles with intrigue, romance, and adventure. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book lacks the historical detail that Mr. Jennings was known for and results in expectations not being realized by a Jenning's reader interested not only in a grand story but with a historical basis in everyday details. This detail elevates Jennings books into a league of exceptional historical novels.
But setting aside the obvious thinness of historical detail the book was an excellent adventure story and well worth the read.
As I usually give Jenning's books 5-stars and have opted to give this book 4-stars when it should be a 3 or 3-1/2 stars as l do not wish his reputation to suffer with the way his rough work was finally released. No doubt Mr. Jennings would have added into this excellent story/draft all the historical detail that we, his readers, praise him for.
I do not wish to be overly critical as I did enjoy the book but only long for more.
"Aztec Blood" is the first of several books (and more on the way) written based on notes and outlines and published after his death. While "Aztec Blood" (the third in his "Aztec" series) doesn't compete or compare well head-to-head with his original "Aztec", I found myself drawn in and gobbling up all 750 pages.
For fans of his earlier Aztec work, there are no direct connections between "Blood" and "Aztec" and "Aztec Autumn". But the characteristics of his main character, Cristo the Bastardo, are similar to the protagonists in the other two books - he's adventurous, very self-aware, and very prone to drama.
It's impossible to truly summarize the story here...I will leave that to previous reviewers and book summaries. Suffice it to say that "Aztec Blood" is heavily focused on the class differences of early-to-mid Spanish Colonialism in post-conquest Mexico. In Cristo's journeys of self discovery in which he's seeking both physical and spiritual origins, the reader explores the impact of the Spanish Conquest on native "indios", first generation-born new world Spaniards, and old world Spaniards as well. It's terrifically insightful and rich in the history and research that one finds in Jennings' other work.
The story contains sword fights, heroic rescues and escapes, love, sex and multiple detailed run-ins with the Spanish Inquisition.
Characters bounce in and out, often falling subject to Cristo's ill-fated existence. The most persistent of characters is Mateo...a living Don Quixote who pulls Cristo along as he chases innumerable windmills. At first Mateo is a bit predictable and fairly unlikeable (purposely so, for the record), but I found myself almost audibly cheering for the two banditos as they traipse across New Spain and the Atlantic following women, riches and schemes in the typically broad Jennings landscape.
The books is not great. But it pulled me in: I cared about the characters...I cared how the persistent dramatic threads concluded (and there were many threads)...and I was drawn to feel as the characters felt. I didn't love the ending, but I felt resolved and satisfied. The journey of reading Jennings more than makes up for any specific flaws in the stories themselves.
I recommend this enjoyable read.
The rogue's name is Cristoforo, known as el bastardaro...which means exactly what the cognate implies. We first meet him languishing under torture in the dungeons of the Viceroy in Mexico City. He is ordered to write an account of his life and crimes in the hope that the rulers may find where his stash of loot is hidden. It is as his story unfolds that we find out who he is.
He is a poor "half-breed". Because of this he is despised by all, Indian and Spaniard alike. The only one who will give him the time of day is an old friar who treats him as a son. The friar provides literacy and education for the boy but warns him to hide his abilities. The arrival of an old harridan and a cruel overseer at the hacienda provokes fear. The friar takes the boy to Veracruz, warning him to hide his identity but never really letting the boy know about his identity. This act causes the priest to be defrocked due to political pressure brought forth by the old lady but he remains to true his calling to help the poor.
In Veracruz, the boy learns the skills of a street beggar and becomes quite an accomplished little trickster. The appearance once again of the old lady and the overseer cause them to eventually flee however. It is a flight the boy survives but that the friar does not. Thus begins the third part of his life.
He is apprenticed to a native shaman who heals people. From this old man the boy learns of his Aztec heritage, though not of his family. He is still a schemer and his schemes eventually lead him to hook up with the rogue who helped him to escape Veracruz. This improves his learning but eventually, a scheme goes wrong and the old healer is killed. The boy is left at the mercy of the rogue and a crown official who sees some merit and use in him.
The crown official takes the two in, teaching them to live as Spanish nobility but using them to investigate crown crimes. In doing so, the educational process is taken to the PhD level as he learns the corruption of officialdom. While investigating these crimes, he comes in contact with the mysterious old lady and the cruel overseer again. His discovery leads his patron and his entire adopted family into the dungeons of the inquisition. This is all quite frustrating in that he still does not know what he has done earn such enmity other than to be born.
From the inquisition it is to life as a slave in the mines. Escape from there leads to a life of brigandage and a reunion with his rogue friend. A heist of the royal mint gets them both to Spain. All the while, the young boy turned into a man wants to know who he is, why he is hated and hunted and he wants vengeance on those who have killed all his loved ones. That brings him back to Mexico, this time posing as a young noble. In his quest, he gets his revenge, the love of his life and his true birthright is a series of bold and almost unbelievable actions.
By this point, the plausibility hardly matters. The story is so engrossing that the reader is willing to swallow most anything and do so willingly.
This one is much happier than the previous two books but it does not always seem that way. It is fascinating as a story and as an examination of the best and the worst of native and colonial cultures.