Aztec by Gary Jennings

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July 6, 2012 by mamie

—4.5 STARS— 

If you have ever wished for a really amazing book to read that would never end, then this is the book for you! With over 750 pages of mind-blowing stories, you get to live through the entire life of one extremely interesting Aztec man: Mixtli, who recounts his many stories (with a sometimes funny and sarcastic tone) to the Spanish bishops and religious leaders after Hernando Cortez’s takeover of the “One World,” as the people of the area call their land.

My sister, who loves Gary Jennings’s writing, recommended the book to me, and I was so glad I took on the read this summer. What’s best about the book, for me, is that you take in so much of the amazing history behind the Aztec way of life (art, religion, trade, festivals, monuments, major cities, education, war details, etc.) by pretty much living in the world that Jennings has recreated through his extensive research. It’s one thing to read the outstanding historical information in a history book, but it’s so much better to absorb all the amazing details by reading through Mixtli’s life and incredible adventures.

One thing that made me laugh while I was reading Aztec is that I realized it was set up in a way very similar to the story of Forrest Gump. (I thought this comparison was funny because my sister hates the movie Forrest Gump for various reasons, and Aztec is one of her favorite, most cherished books!) Anyway, both main characters take part (by total chance) in major historical events to an extent that would be pretty much impossible for a person to realistically live through. In Aztec, though, this luckiness is not so obvious that it makes the book unbelievable; part of Mixtli’s good fortune is explained by an interest and protection that the Aztec gods have for Mixtli throughout his entire life.

In its entirety and complexity, Jennings’s creation is truly astounding. What’s more is that Jennings adds in a very interesting, entertaining sublayer of sarcasm and irony toward the Spanish conquistadors and their role in Mexican history, especially toward the end of the book. Overall, if you have any interest in Latin America or the Aztecs, this book is definitely worth reading because it makes you see this period of history in a very different, more enlightened light afterword. Plus, you will completely enjoy yourself throughout the whole thing and feel a great sense of pride when you finish!

Reminded me of: my 6th grade geography class and our fiestas 🙂 (really good memories), the Disney movie The Road to El Dorado— a favorite!, & some of my favorite Mexican restaurants and their best dishes


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