Can you say… Tenochtitlan, Tepanecs, Tlaxcala and Nezahualcoyotl three times fast?
Yeah, me neither.
But at least now I know what they are! (An Aztec capital, a mesoamerican tribe, a town, and an heir to Texcoco, in case you were wondering.)
The Highlander jumps right to the story, immerses it in history and never pauses to lecture on the subject. This can be a bit confusing when mesoamerica circa 1400’s is completely new to you (as it was to me) but worth it. If given the choice between initial confusion and interrupting the flow of a story to give a history lesson, I’ll choose initial confusion every time. And, as happens in well done historical fiction, by the end of this fairly short book I had many of the unfamiliar terms, towns and people sorted out in my brain – even if I still can’t pronounce a single one of them.
Saadia is also great at writing adolescent boys. The trouble is adolescent boys are not my favorite. Teenage boys were annoying when I was a teenager, and they haven’t gotten less so just because they are fictional. And, yes, because my husband asked, I didn’t even like Harry Potter that much during his teenage years. And, no, in case you are wondering I didn’t know my husband when he was that age. And, no, I will not speculate on what I might have thought of him then. The two main characters in this story are boys brimming with adolescent, angst-ey, angry, hormonal, warrior energy. All their boy shenanigans are a great way to tell the story, immerse the reader in history and keep it exciting. It’s just that all those warrior hormones seem to get in the way of other things – like brains. I found myself yelling at them, “Seriously boys, what are you doing? Just think!” Initially I thought perhaps they could have been written differently but then I remembered back to when I spent time with fifteen year old boys – and figured she was writing them just right.
Would I recommend it? I loved learning some of the history of a place and time entirely new to me and the book does have a pretty fantastic female character hiding in the wings but those boys… I just don’t love those boys…
This honest review was given in return for a free copy of the book from its author.