Apocalypse 2012 (Aztec Series #3)

Apocalypse 2012 (Aztec Series #3)

3.4 13
by Gary Jennings, Robert Gleason, Junius Podrug

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In ancient Mexico, the “End-Time Codex”—prophesizing the world’s end in 2012—is entombed. A young Aztec-Mayan slave tells us its story.

Gifted in math and astronomy, Coyotl rises to king’s counselor in Tula, a golden city of milk and honey ruled by the brilliant god-king, Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent of lore. Gathering


In ancient Mexico, the “End-Time Codex”—prophesizing the world’s end in 2012—is entombed. A young Aztec-Mayan slave tells us its story.

Gifted in math and astronomy, Coyotl rises to king’s counselor in Tula, a golden city of milk and honey ruled by the brilliant god-king, Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent of lore. Gathering artists, scientists and craftsmen, this legendary ruler builds a city that will awe humanity for one thousand years. But he also faces war, catastrophic drought, betrayal and the rise of an evil death-cult religion. Instituting the infamous “Blood Covenant,” its priests drag thousands of people a year atop temple-pyramids and rip their hearts beating from their chests. To stop them Quetzalcoatl must defy the flames of bloody civil war.

A thousand years later scientists discover the End-Time Codex. While struggling to decipher it, they realize their own age mirrors Tula’s. Can they crack the 2012 code and save their world from Tula’s deadly fate?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Apocalypse 2012 takes you on an enthralling and thrilling journey into the mysteries of the past and the dangers of the near future. I love to be swept away by a book, and this terrific novel carried me far, and will stay with me a long, long time.” —Whitley Strieber, New York Times bestselling author of Critical Mass

"If you thought Revelation was a serious head trip, you are going to love this tale by the high priests of the apocalypse" —Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassin

"With Apocalypse 2012, Gary Jennings' Aztec saga continues; thriller writing rises to a new, exalted all-time high." David Hagberg, bestselling author of The Expediter and three-time winner of the American Mystery Award

 “Fascinating and frightening. Apocalypse 2012 is a saga that will make you think as well as chill you. Gary Jennings would be proud.” —Barbara D’Amato, Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of Death of a Thousand Cuts

 "Whatever you're reading this month, stop, because you simply have to read Apocalypse 2012, a fantastic and fantastical tale of curses and clues, of ancient prophesies and modern mayhem, of fabulous characters in a fast-moving plot that sweeps us back and forth across a millennium as easily as some books take us from Monday to Tuesday. It's the kind of book I love to read and aspire to write: a brilliant blending of history, mystery, and pulse-pounding suspense." —William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Constitution and Back Bay

“Jennings’ name was made by his well-researched, graphically detailed, and compellingly readable Aztec saga, which offered authentic pictures of how life was led in that both brutal and brilliant society . . . Jennings fans will savor the mix of ancient history and near-future apocalypse.”—Booklist

“The authors lovingly describe the world of their pre-Columbian characters.”—Publishers Weekly


Publishers Weekly

Gleason and Podrug's uneven third entry (after Aztec Fire) in the late Gary Jennings's historical series focuses on the ancient Mayan prediction of an apocalypse in the year 2012. In A.D. 1001, Toltec warriors capture a 16-year-old Aztec, Coyotl, in a raid. After the Toltecs notice Coyotl's stomach bears a scar tattoo in the shape of a star constellation, they take the boy to the magnificent Toltec capital of Tula, where he becomes the resident astronomer's assistant. Meanwhile, in the present, U.S. president Edward Raab convenes "the newly created Presidential Scientific Advisory Board" to hear NASA scientist Monica Cardiff present her theory of an upcoming global disaster. The authors lovingly describe the world of their pre-Columbian characters, but skimp on the modern story, whose characters have little motivation or substance. Jennings's fans will find the discrepancies between the two periods easy to overlook in the wealth of sex and violence. (June)

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Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Aztec Series, #3
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

One-World, 1001 A. D.

I sat on a large rock on a hillside and fought my rope restraints. The task was next to hopeless. My captors had wrenched my elbows up behind my back, shoved a pole between them, then lashed my wrists so tight across my stomach, my elbow joints and wrists screamed in agony. Hobbling my feet, they roped me to a tree.

Nonetheless, I struggled to turn sideways, hoping to use the tree trunk to push the pole out from between my elbows. Free of the pole, I would then cut my binds on a jagged rock.

An angry commotion announced Tenoch's return. The leader of our party, he was notoriously ill-tempered. He hurled a deer to the ground perhaps twenty paces from my feet. Little more than bones and parchment, the shriveled deer wouldn't even satisfy our twenty hunters much less the hundreds of our clan, who camped by a waterhole a day's walk to the north. Kicking and thrashing several hunters with his wrist-whip, he thundered obscenities at them for not flushing a fatter deer or stealing the corn, peppers, and beans he'd wanted.

Then he turned his wrath and his whip on his slave, Desert Flower, and for the ten thousandth time in my life, I swore I would kill that devil.

Young and attractive, Flower was a poor woman whom Tenoch had forced into the expedition to attend to his physical needs, despite the elders' prohibitions. Tenoch had spurned their counsel, insisting that he needed her to dress out his kills, cook his meals, carry his gear—and endure his violently depraved debaucheries. Tenoch's abuse of her hurt me worse than his assaults on me. Born, like myself, during the first year of the Great Drought, we were each going on our sixteenth summer, and we were each Tenoch's property. Both of us suffered under his whip, but she had it infinitely worse. Shy and small of frame, she was compassion incarnate with a virtuousness that infuriated our master. Her large, dark eyes and tiny sensitive mouth expressed her caring nature quickly and unmistakably—her plea sure at sudden acts of kindness and her displeasure at deliberate cruelty. Tenoch despised such displays.

When he saw her so moved, he flogged her like a fiend freed from ictlantecuhtli's hell.

He was still screaming about the scrawny deer and the failure to find produce. Of course, the food shortage was no one's fault. There was little food to be found. The weather had been drier than old bones for more seasons than I could remember. The crops had withered, and the emaciated game was increasingly scarce.

Even worse, our Aztec people now paid for that scarcity in blood. Increasing their annual blood-tithes tenfold, Toltec priests roamed our countryside, abducting anyone they could get their hands on, dragging them back to Tula, where they immolated them en masse after cutting out their hearts. They emptied their victims' blood in scarlet torrents down the temple troughs and hurled their severed heads down the pyramidal steps . . . none of which brought back Tlaloc, our bloodthirsty thunder god, or watered our maize fields.

Our people were starving, and hunger had forced us into Toltec land to poach that deer. Fierce bands of Toltec hunters were everywhere, but Tenoch had reasoned he could offer me to those warriors as recompense for the deer and thus escape their wrath. Content with the gift of a sacrificial prisoner, they'd haul me back to Tula and deliver me to their bloodthirsty priests.

What ever the case, we'd had no choice but to poach on Toltec land. I was also an obvious choice for the sacrificial victim. An orphaned babe, found in a reed basket by a river bank, I was a slave with no rights. So here I was: I would either starve to death trussed to a tree or die on a pyramid under a priest's black blade.

Before I could curse my fate, however, hell exploded. Half of our twenty hunter-warriors collapsed before me, arrows impaling their heads, torsos, and necks. One lay writhing on the ground, clutching at an arrow that skewered his throat, gore gushed from his wound. Another stared sightlessly at a feathered shaft sunk deep between his eyes. Four others were mortally pierced through the chest.

Another near-simultaneous arrow-volley took out six more of our men.

Eight attackers erupted from the tree line, dispatching the survivors with obsidian-bladed axes and black knives. Like ourselves, these loinclothed men were stripped down to their heavily tattooed torsos, and limbs; and, like ourselves, they sported nose, ear, and lip ornaments. The resemblance, however, ended there. Our warriors wore simple, coarse-cloth maxtlatl loincloths made of fibers worked from maguey plants; these soldiers were dressed in bright loincloths, with higher-ranking warriors wearing mantles and headdresses. While this enemy attacked with shocking swiftness, rigorous teamwork, and unerring precision, our few surviving warriors panicked like children, either fleeing or cowering, each man looking out solely for himself.

At their head, three paces in front of his charging men, was their leader. There was no mistaking his high status—even from where I stood I could see that the maxtlatl between his legs was made of costly dyed cotton. The mantle that was tied at his shoulders and draped down his back was covered with images of wild animals, skulls and bones, and demonic gods.

Unlike our skinny soldiers, these were powerfully built killers—men with rocklike biceps, block-like shoulders, massively muscular legs and chests. Nor were their weapons tipped with coarsely chipped flint, as were ours, but ebony-hued, sharply honed obsidian—blades now glistening with the blood of my adopted people.

A severed head lay beside a pair of headless shoulders. Another warrior lay on his side with a javelin protruding from both chest and back. Only one victim still moved, writhing in his death spasms, his limbs convulsing, blood pumping from his neck and stomach. Another, who had tried to scale a tree, was now affixed to that sought-after sanctuary, a lance pinning his chest to the trunk, his feet dangling a handsbreadth above the ground.

Of our entire band, only two others survived: Tenoch, who lay on the ground unconscious—thanks to a towering, muscular warrior who had clubbed him into bloody oblivion—and Desert Flower.

Emerging from the forest, a ninth man walked through the camp—an elderly dignitary who had not participated in the fray.

His clothing confirmed his importance among his people. His loincloth was richly embroidered in vivid shades of red and green and yellow, with sparkling gems delicately weaved into the cloth. Hanging from knots were tiny bells of gold.

His mantle was long, falling from his shoulders almost to the ground. As colorful as his loincloth and as costly, it was lavishly decorated and fringed with gold.

He was at an age in life when most men no longer marched with an army unless their role was planning as opposed to leading warriors into battle.

As he stood over me and stared down, I knew what he was looking at: the star patterns tattooed on my lower belly and painted with black dye on my white loincloth.

"Who put these drawings on you?" he asked.

He spoke Nahuatl, the same language as the Aztecs, though his diction and accent were different from ours.

"I painted the ones on my loincloth."


The question stumped me. I had never thought of why I had drawn them. I gave him the answer that came to my mind. "It's what I see in the sky at night."

Kneeling next to me, he examined the scars on my abdomen, fingering the pattern of scars.

"Where did you get these designs?" he asked.

The words were spoken almost in a whisper.

"I don't know," I told him, truthfully. "They were on me when they found me."

"Who found you?"

"The Clansmen—"

"Dog People found you? Where? When?"

"I was found when I was a babe. In a basket, next to a river."

The nobleman stood up. "Do not hurt this one," he announced to the warriors.

Suddenly I felt a chill, and a shadow fell over me. A startlingly tall, shockingly muscled warrior had come up beside me silent as the grave. Possessing a hawk's nose, wide flaring cheekbones and blood-streaked shoulder-length hair, black as a raven's underwing, he was an imposing specimen.

He wore the close-fitting loincloth and white padded-cotton shirt of a warrior, but his shield and helmet told me he was far more important than a mere commander of what appeared to be a small force—only eight soldiers plus the elderly nobleman. The warrior's shield bore the image of a jaguar, and his headdress included the actual head of a jaguar as well as the brilliant green and red plumes of rare birds.

Jaguar Knight.

I had never seen an actual knight, but I knew from cooking-fire talk that the Toltec had three orders of knighthood: Jaguar, Eagle, and Coyote. The Coyote Knights were in charge of the Toltec forces that guarded its northern border, the one it shared with us Dog People. The Jaguar Knights guarded the king.

What was a Jaguar Knight doing so far from his king?

Who was this man?

Glancing up at him, I was surprised to find his eyes were . . . kind.

He was the man who had subdued my tormenter, Tenoch.

"What is happening, Citali?" he asked.

Citali. Stargazer. So the elderly nobleman was a shaman, like my adopted father. A very important person in any Clan—often the most important.

"He bears a sign of the stars," Stargazer said. "I have placed him under my protection."

The Jaguar Knight glared down at me. "He's of the Dog People. Probably the son of a village shaman." The knight kicked me. "What's your name, Aztec?"

"Coyotl," I said.

I hoped it would be offensive to the gods for a Jaguar Knight to kill one who bore the name of a brethren order.

Stargazer chuckled. "The writing, the scars, the name—Chi-malpopoca, this young man is not fated to die this day . . . or end up sacrificed. Not yet . . ." he said to me.

Chimalpopoca—Smoking Shield.

Smoking Shield appeared as puzzled about the significance of the scars as I had been . . . but was just as frightened of the unknown as I was to question what the gods had written.

Even if neither of us understood what it meant.

He stared at my bare, tattooed abdomen.

"Relax, young friend," he finally said, raising his eyes. "I was only admiring your body art along with Stargazer." Turning to the old man, he said: "We don't murder the young, do we, old man?" He slashed my bonds, freeing me from the tree. "Come to dinner with us to night. Enjoy your venison. We will simmer it in a pot of ripe maize, plump red beans, succulent onions, and scorchingly hot chilis even as we wash it down with octli. Afterward, you will get a good night's sleep. We leave at dawn."

"I'm going with you?"


"Where do we travel?"

"Who knows? All of life is an adventure. To night, we will eat, and drink to the gods. Tomorrow we face the far horizons."


Copyright © 2009 by Engene Winick, Executor, Estate of Gary Jennings

Published in June 2009 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Meet the Author

GARY JENNINGS was known for the rigorous and intensive research behind his novels, which often included hazardous travel. He passed away in 1999, leaving behind a rich legacy of historical fiction and ideas for new novels.

ROBERT GLEASON was Gary Jennings’ editor for a number of years. He lives in New York City.

JUNIUS PODRUG is an accomplished writer of both fiction and nonfiction. He lives on Cape Cod.

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Apocalypse 2012 (Aztec Series #3) 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
JGolomb More than 1 year ago
Many familiar with Gary Jennings' "Aztec" series will enjoy this book. Expectations should be measured, however, because "2012" is only Gary Jennings 'Lite'. Since 'Lite' is all one can get, then one should go for it. At the end of the day the book is enjoyable. The delight I find from Jennings' original two "Aztec" books (and to a lesser extent in his Marco Polo-based novel "Journeyer") is the emotional depth and range of the key characters. It's been almost two years since I first discovered "Aztec" and I still find my thoughts drifting to the myriad tales of Mixtli Dark Cloud. Mixtli's inner monologue and narrative is what defines Jennings' characters. I find that tone very recognizable and comfortable. "2012" bounces back and forth between early 1000 A.D. and modern day. The plot lines of the two times generally follow each other on a search to answer the questions of when, why, and what cataclysmic end will come to the earth. There are about twice as many pages dedicated to the main Aztec character, Coyotl, and his adventures than the modern day vignettes. If the book is Gary Jennings 'Lite', then you'll be as pleased as I was that the focus is on Coyotl, who could justifiably be considered Mixtil Dark Cloud 'Lite'. "Apocalypse 2012" is purportedly based on Jennings' own notes found after his death in 1999. This book is not great. The storyline is unbalanced and, at some points, a little nonsensical. I found myself thumbing back through some sections trying to reconcile some of the actions. Ultimately, I threw my hands up and let myself enjoy the ride. Though 384 pages (MUCH shorter than "Aztec"), the book is an extremely easy and quick read. Few chapters run more than 10 pages long. If your expectations are set appropriately, and you pine for Gary Jennings, then buy this book. If you're looking for another "Aztec", then you'll have to keep searching. For those who haven't tried Jennings, this isn't a terrible introduction. But just be aware that this is more of an appetizer - the main course is "Aztec".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The idea that the Maya knew something is going to happen in 2012 is well laid out in the book by showing how interested they were in the sky and how they were probably the best astronomers in the ancient world. Having chapters with both the present day and the ancient one was good. I had never heard of Tula and it was interesting to find out that it was the land of milk and honey to the ancient Maya and Aztecs and that many of their customs and architecture came from Tula. I went to Chichen Itza and was told it had Toltec influences despite being in the heart of the Maya territory. I didn't understand then, but I do now. I liked the book, it moved fast and everything was interesting.
Cenza More than 1 year ago
I liked Apocalypse 2012. I like books where there are different things going on in different places but it all relates to the same plot. In the book, there were three storylines. A thousand years ago, in the ancient world, a young man named Coyotl has secret knowledge of the Maya 2012 end of the world prophecy and has recorded it in a codex. He has to stay alive until he gets it written because there are people back then who want the information. In the modern world, the president is working to deal with all the global threats we have to the planet, like rogue asteroids and super volcanoes. And the third storyline is a mission the government sent to Mexico find the codex and the battle over possession of it. There is a lot of action but also a lot of historical stuff about the Aztecs and Maya in ancient Mexico and information about the real threats we have to our survival today.
Lone_Ranger More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up to read something other than Civil War, and ,historical novels for a change. Although the book started out promising, if was disappointing in the end. To me, it seems like this was the opening for another book/part. The characters are okay, coyotl the main character isn't bad, and Ixchaal's is I felt the most interesting character. It appears this is another novel in the lines of the December 2012 Mayan End Calendar books. I have to agree with the other reviewers, that you should NOT purchase this book, but wait until your local library gets a copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He's been dead for a decade and still "Gary Jennings" keeps churning out the novels...or rather he left enough "notes" for the numerous books that bear his name since "Aztec Autumn." Sadly, one doesn't have to be a particularly observant reader to notice the superiority of the works actually written by Jennings himself, prior to his death in 1999. <sigh>
JRoblyer More than 1 year ago
I read this whole book expecting it to get better after each page but it only got worse. Frankly, I am amazed that it was even published. It is truly awful. The characters are flat. The setting descriptions are lists that are repeated through out. The attempts at adding mystical quality fail. There is no plot. Disconnected activities prevail. There is no end to the story, it just stops. This book is a total waste of time and money.