Aztec Autumn

( 13 )

Overview

Aztec Autumn takes us to a time one generation after the Conquest, when the magnificent Aztec empire has fallen beneath the brutal heel of the invading Spaniards. But one proud young Aztec, Tenamaxtli, refuses to bow to the foreign conquerors - and secretly begins to recruit, from among the struggling survivors of the Conquest, an army of insurrection. On his courageous quest he finds high adventure, passionate women, unlikely allies, bright hope, and bitter tragedy. Driven by his dream of restoring the lost ...
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Overview

Aztec Autumn takes us to a time one generation after the Conquest, when the magnificent Aztec empire has fallen beneath the brutal heel of the invading Spaniards. But one proud young Aztec, Tenamaxtli, refuses to bow to the foreign conquerors - and secretly begins to recruit, from among the struggling survivors of the Conquest, an army of insurrection. On his courageous quest he finds high adventure, passionate women, unlikely allies, bright hope, and bitter tragedy. Driven by his dream of restoring the lost glory of the Aztec empire, he will come to threaten the seemingly invincible power of mighty Spain. Until now, Tenamaxtil's rebellion has been little remembered, perhaps because it shed no glory on the men who would write the history books, but on its outcome depended the future of all North America. Aztec Autumn re-creates this forgotten chapter of history in all its splendor and unforgettable passion.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
As in Aztec, Jennings is at his best in portraying a man, and a culture, that is cheerfully and zestfully bloodthirsty.
Charles Salsberg
Jennings's fascinating if often gory novel is guided by exhaustive research. -- NY Times Book Review
New York Times Book Review
Jennings's fascinating if often gory novel is guided by exhaustive research into practically every facet of life in 16th-century Mexico.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This long-awaited sequel to Jennings's bestselling Aztec is another assiduously researched, richly detailed and robust re-creation of a little-known era of ancient history on our continent. Here, Jennings chronicles the life of Tenamxtli, an Aztec noble who grew up when North America was being colonialized by the Conquistadors of Spain. Tenamxtli's home of Aztlan was left untouched by the Spaniards, but, having heard of the "white men," Tenamxtli travels with his uncle (then ruler of Aztlan) and mother to the city of Mexico to see their nemeses and the threat they posed. Upon arrival, the three are herded among a group of other "indios" to witness the burning of a heretic at the stake. Soon thereafter, Tenamxtli discovers that the condemned man was his father, whom he had never known. Thus begins his quest to find a weakness in the Spanish army, form an army of his own people and eventually defeat the invaders and avenge his father's death. With his vigorous prose and clearly visualized details, Jennings brings readers back in time to that world. Descriptions of landscape and culture, gruesome battle scenes and executions, have convincing immediacy. Showing us the transformation of North America through the eyes of native people, he never portrays them as stereotypically primitive. The only jarring digressions in the book are the strange and numerous sexcapades of Tenamxtli, including his tenure in two different villages where he's the only capably virile male available for months on endand where he takes it as his duty to service and "teach" every woman in town. Overall, however, this is riveting historical fiction written with wonderful force.
San Francisco Chronicle
If you can't make it to the latest summer blockbuster film, Aztec Autumn is the book equivalent.
Kirkus Reviews
Uneven, comparatively brief sequel to Jennings's epic historical tale "Aztec" (1980).

Having watched the gruesome auto-da-fé of Dark Cloud, the doomed, conflicted hero of "Aztec", Tenamáxtli, Dark Cloud's son, vows revenge on the Spaniards who have conquered and destroyed the Aztec empire. He befriends a Spanish notary who understands the Aztec language and begins to learn Spanish in a mission in the former imperial capital of Tenochtitlan (the "The Heart of the One World," contemporary Mexico City). Jennings uses Tenamáxtli's Candide-like innocence to poke fun at the bearded, brutal Europeans with their booming arquebuses, their appetite for cruelty and gold, and their odd religion, which compels them to "eat their god" during communion. Daunted by the contradictions of Christianity, Tenamáxtli puzzles out the recipe for gunpowder, procures a copy of a Spanish arquebus, and makes a decisive terrorist strike against a Spanish garrison before returning to his native Aztlan. Along the way, he finds a utopian settlement ruled by a kindly Spanish priest, tarries lustfully in a village of women whose men have been slaughtered, befriends a fierce, bald-headed female warrior named Tiptoe, tangles with a seemingly immortal sorceress named G'nda Ke', and mounts the throne of his ancestral homestead as the ultimate ruler. Jennings's relentlessly talky narrative doesn't achieve the momentum of his earlier masterpiece, and, despite numerous references to divine coincidences, his twisted plot depends on too many trite devices. Characters thought to be lost, dead, incompetent, or merely far away are forever popping up to either save the day or ruin it for Tenamáxtli, whose rigid concept of honor compels him to lead a rebellion that even he realizes he can't win.

A bumpy, meandering, wryly tragic tale, graced with delightful moments of passion and insight into the ancient culture that still haunts (and influences) modern Mexico.

From the Publisher
"Jennings is the best amoung our historical novelists." —The New York Times

"First-rate storytelling." —The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Definitely worth the wait." —The Tampa Tribune & Times

"Mr. Jennings keeps the pages turning." —The Dallas Morning News

"If you can't make it to the latest summer blockbuster film, Aztec Autumn is the book equivalent." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Aztec addicts will have to read the sequel." —The Washington Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765317513
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Aztec Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 210,838
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Jennings is known for his intensive research which often includes rigorous and sometimes hazardous travels-exploring every corner of Mexico for his Aztec novels, retracing the numerous wanderings of Marco Polo for The Journeyer, joining nine different circuses for Spangle, and roaming the Balkans to do Raptor.

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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


I can still see him burning.

On that long-ago day when I watched the man being set afire, I was already eighteen years old, so I had seen other people die, whether given in sacrifice to the gods or executed for some outrageous crime or simply dead by accident. But the sacrifices had always been done by means of the obsidian knife that tears out the heart. The executions had always been done with the maquahuitl sword or with arrows or with the strangling "flower garland." The accidental deaths had mostly been the drownings of fishermen from our seaside city who somehow fell afoul of the water goddess. In the years since that day, too, I have seen people die in war and in various other ways, but never before then had I seen a man deliberately put to death by fire, nor have I since.

I and my mother and my uncle were among the vast crowd commanded by the city's Spanish soldiers to attend the ceremony, so I supposed that this event was intended to be some sort of object lesson to all of us non-Spaniards. Indeed, the soldiers collected and prodded and herded so many of us into the city's central square that we were crammed shoulder to shoulder. Within a space kept clear by a cordon of other soldiers, a metal post stood fixed into the flagstones of the square. To one side of it had been built a platform for the occasion, and on it sat or stood a number of Spanish Christian priests, all clad in flowing black gowns, as are our own priests.

Two burly Spanish guards brought the condemned man and roughly shoved him into that cleared space. When we saw that he was not a Spaniard, pale and bearded, but one of our ownpeople, I heard my mother sigh, "Ayya ouiya ..." and so did many others in the crowd. The man wore a loose, shapeless and colorless garment and, on his head, a scraggly crown made of straw. His only adornment that I could see was a pendant of some kind—it flashed when it caught the sun—hanging from a thong about his neck.

The man was quite old, even older than my uncle, and he put up no struggle against his guards. The man seemed, in fact, either resigned to his fate or indifferent to it, so I do not know why he was immediately encumbered by a heavy restraint. A tremendous piece of metal chain was hung upon him, a chain of such dimensions that a single link of it was big enough to be forced over his head to pinion his neck. That chain was then fixed to the upright post, and the guards began piling about his feet a heap of kindling wood. While that was being done, the oldest of the priests on the platform—the chief of them, I assumed—spoke to the prisoner, addressing him by a Spanish name, "Juan Damasceno." Then he commenced a long harangue, naturally in Spanish, which at that time I had not yet learned. But a younger priest, dressed in slightly different vestments, translated his chiefs words—to my considerable surprise—into fluent Nahuatl.

This enabled me to comprehend that the old priest was reciting the charges against the condemned man, and also that he was—in a voice alternately unctuous and angry—trying to persuade the man to make amends or show contrition or something of the sort. But even when translated into my native language, the terms and expressions employed by the priest were a bafflement to me. After a long and wordy while of this, the prisoner was given leave to speak. He did so in Spanish, and when that was translated into Nahuatl, I understood him very clearly:

"Your Excellency, once when I was still a small child I vowed to myself that if ever I were selected for the Flowery Death, even on an alien altar, I would not degrade the dignity of my going."

Juan Damasceno spoke nothing more than that, but among the priests and guards and other officials there ensued a great deal of discourse and conferring and gesticulation—before finally a stern command was uttered, and one of the soldiers set a torch to the pile of wood at the prisoner's feet.

As is well known, the gods and goddesses take mischievous delight in perplexing us mortals. They frequently confound our best intentions and complicate our most straightforward plans and thwart even the least of our ambitions. Often they can do such things with ease, simply by arranging what appears to be a matter of coincidence. And if I did not know better, I would have said that it was mere coincidence that brought us three—my uncle, Mixtzin, his sister Cuicani and her son, myself, Tenamaxtli—to the City of Mexico on that particular day.

Fully twelve years previous, in our own city of Aztlan, the Place of Snowy Egrets, far to the northwest, on the coast of the Western Sea, we had heard the first startling news: that The One World had been invaded by pale-skinned and heavily bearded strangers. It was said that they had come from across the Eastern Sea in huge houses that floated on the water and were propelled by immense birdlike wings. I was only six years old at that time, with a whole seven years to wait before I could don, beneath my mantle, the maxtlatl loincloth that signifies the attainment of manhood. Hence I was an insignificant person, of no consequence at all. Nevertheless, I was precociously inquisitive and very sharp of ear. Also, my mother Cuicani and I did reside in the Aztlan palace with my Uncle Mixtzin and his son Yeyac and daughter Ameyatl, so I was always able to hear whatever news arrived and whatever comment it provoked among my uncle's Speaking Council.

As is indicated by the -tzin suffixion to my uncle's name, he was a noble, the highest noble among us Azteca, being the Uey-Tecutli—the Revered Governor—of Aztlan. Some while earlier, when I was just a toddling babe, the late Uey-Tlatoani Motecuzoma, Revered Speaker of the Mexica, the most powerful nation in all The One World, had accorded our then-small village the status of "autonomous colony of the Mexica." He ennobled my Uncle Mixtli as the Lord Mixtzin, and set him to govern Aztlan, and bade him build the place into a prosperous and populous and civilized colony of which the Mexica could be proud. So, although we were exceedingly far distant from the capital city of Tenochtitlan—The Heart of The One World—Motecuzoma's swift-messengers routinely brought to our Aztlan palace, as to other colonies, any news deemed of interest to his under-governors. Of course, the news of those intruders from beyond the sea was anything but routine. It caused no small consternation and speculation among Aztlan's Speaking Council.

"In the ancient archives of various nations of our One World," said old Canautli, our Rememberer of History, who also happened to be the grandfather of my uncle and my mother, "it is recorded that the Feathered Serpent, the once-greatest of all monarchs, Quetzalcoatl of the Tolteca—he who eventually was worshiped as the greatest of gods—was described as having a very white skin and a bearded face."

"Are you suggesting—?" began another member of the Council, a priest of our war god Huitzilopochtli. But Canautli overrode him, as I could have told the priest he would, because I well knew how my great-grandfather loved to talk.

"It is also recorded that Quetzalcoatl abdicated his rule of the Tolteca as a consequence of his having done something shameful. His people might never have known of it, but he confessed to it. In a fit of intoxication—after overindulgence in the drunk-making octli beverage—he committed the act of ahuilnema with his own sister. Or, some say, with his own daughter. The Tolteca so much adored the Feathered Serpent that they doubtless would have forgiven him that misconduct, but he could not forgive himself."

Several of the councillors nodded solemnly. Canautli went on:

"That is why he built a raft on the seashore—some say it was made of feathers felted together, some say it was made of interlaced snakes—and he floated off across the Eastern Sea. His subjects prostrated themselves on the beach, loudly bewailing his departure. So he called to them, assuring them that someday, when he had done sufficient penance in exile, he would return. But, over the years, the Tolteca themselves gradually vanished into extinction. And Quetzalcoatl has never been seen again."

"Until now?" growled Uncle Mixtzin. He was almost never of very warm or cheerful temperament, and the messenger's news had not been of a sort to exhilarate him. "Is that what you mean, Canautli?"

The old man shrugged and said, "Aquin ixnentla?"

"Who knows?" he was echoed by another elderly councillor. "I know this much, having been a fisherman all my working life. It would be next to impossible to make a raft float off across the sea. To get it out past the breakers and the combers and the landward surge of the surf."

"Perhaps not impossible for a god," said another. "Anyway, if the Feathered Serpent had great difficulty in doing that, it seems he has learned from the experience, if now he has voyaged hither in winged houses."

"Why would he need more than one such vessel?" asked another. "He went away alone. But it appears that he returns with a numerous crew. Or passengers."

Canautli said, "It has been countless sheaves of sheaves of years since he left. Wherever he went, he could have married wife after wife, and begotten whole nations of progeny."

"If this is Quetzalcoatl returned," said that priest of the war god, in a voice that quavered slightly, "do any of you realize what the effects will be?"

"Many changes for the better, I should expect," said my uncle, who took pleasure in discomfiting priests. "The Feathered Serpent was a gentle and beneficent god. All the histories agree—never before or since his time has The One World enjoyed such peace and happiness and good fortune."

"But all our other gods will be relegated to inferiority, even obscurity," said that priest of Huitzilopochtli, wringing his hands. "And so will all us priests of all those gods. We shall be abased, made lower than the lowest slaves. Deposed ... dismissed ... discarded to beg and starve."

"As I said," grunted my irreverent uncle. "Changes for the better."

Well, the Uey-Tecutli Mixtzin and his Speaking Council were soon disabused of any notion that the newcomers included or represented the god Quetzalcoatl. During the next year and a half or so, hardly a month went by without a swift-messenger from Tenochtitlan bringing ever more astounding and disconcerting news. From one runner, we would learn that the strangers were only men, not gods or the progeny of gods, and that they called themselves espanoles or castellanos. The two names seemed interchangeable, but the latter was easier for us to transmute into Nahuatl, so for a long time all of us referred to the outlanders as the Caxtilteca. Then the next-arriving runner would inform us that the Caxtilteca resembled gods—at least, war gods—in that they were rapacious, ferocious, merciless, and lustful of conquest, because they were now forcing their way inland from the Eastern Sea.

Then the next swift-messenger would report that the Caxtilteca certainly displayed godlike, or at least magical, attributes in their methods and weapons of war, for many of them rode mounted on giant, antlerless buck deer, and many of them wielded fearsome tubes that discharged lightning and thunder, and others had arrows and spears tipped with a metal that never bent or broke, and all wore armor of that same metal, which was impenetrable by ordinary projectiles.

Then came a messenger wearing the white mantle of mourning, and with his hair braided in the manner signifying bad news. His report was that the invaders had defeated one nation and tribe after another, on their way westward—the Totonaca, the Tepeyahuaca, the Texcalteca—then had impressed any surviving native warriors into their own ranks. So the number of fighting men did not diminish but continually increased as they marched. (I might mention, from my advantage of hindsight, that many of those native warriors were not too reluctant to join the aliens' forces, because their people had for ages been paying grudging and heavy tribute to Tenochtitlan, and now they had hopes of retaliating against the domineering Mexica.)

Finally there came to Aztlan a swift-messenger—with white mantle and bad-news hairdress—to tell us that the Caxtilteca white men and their recruited native allies had now marched right into Tenochtitlan itself, The Heart of The One World, and, inconceivably, at the personal invitation of the once-puissant, now-irresolute Revered Speaker Motecuzoma. Furthermore, those intruders had not just marched on through and continued westward, but had occupied the city, and seemed inclined to settle down and stay there.

The one member of our Speaking Council who had most dreaded the coming of those outlanders—I mean that priest of the god Huitzilopochtli—had lately been considerably heartened to know that he was not about to be deposed by a returning Quetzalcoatl. But he was dismayed anew when this latest swift-messenger also reported:

"In every city and town and village on their way to Tenochtitlan, the barbaric Caxtilteca have destroyed every teocali temple, torn down every tlamanacali pyramid and toppled and broken every statue of every one of our gods and goddesses. In place of them, the foreigners have erected crude wooden effigies of a vapidly simpering white woman holding in her arms a white baby. These images, they say, represent a mortal mother who gave birth to a child-godling, and are the foundations of their religion called Crixtanoyotl."

So our priest wrung his hands some more. He was apparently doomed to be displaced anyway—and not even by one of our own land's former gods, who had stature and grandeur, but by some new, incomprehensible religion that evidently worshiped an ordinary woman and a lackwit infant.

That swift-messenger was the last ever to come to us from Tenochtitlan or from anywhere else in the Mexica lands, bringing what we could assume was authoritative and trustworthy news. After him, we only heard rumors that spread from one community to another and eventually reached us by way of some traveler journeying overland or paddling an acali canoe up the seacoast. From those rumors, one had to sift out the impossible and the illogical—miracles and omens allegedly descried by priests and far-seers, exaggerations attributable to the superstitions of the common folk, that sort of thing—because, anyway, what remained after the sifting, and could be recognized as at least possible, was dire enough.

In the course of time, we heard and had no reason to disbelieve these things: that Motecuzoma had died at the hands of the Caxtilteca; that the two Revered Speakers who briefly succeeded him had also perished; that the entire city of Tenochtitlan—houses, palaces, temples, marketplaces, even the massive icpac tlamanacali, the Great Pyramid—had been leveled and reduced to rubble; that all the lands of the Mexica and all their tributary nations were now the property of the Caxtilteca; that more and more floating houses were coming across the Eastern Sea and disgorging more and more of the white men and that those alien warriors were fanning out northward, westward and southward to conquer and subdue still other, farther nations and lands. According to the rumors, everywhere the Caxtilteca went, they scarcely needed to use their lethal weapons.

Said one informant, "It must be their gods—that white woman and child, may they be damned to Mictlan—who do the slaughtering. They inflict whole populations with diseases that kill everyone but the white men."

"And horrible diseases they are," said another passerby. "I hear that a person's skin turns to ghastly boils and pustules, and he suffers untold agonies for a long time before death mercifully releases him."

"Hordes of our people are dying of that blight," said yet another. "But the white men seem impervious. It has to be an evil enchantment laid by their white goddess and godling."

We heard also that every surviving and able-bodied man, woman and child in and around Tenochtitlan was put to slave labor, using what material was salvageable from the ruins, to rebuild that city. But now, by order of the conquerors, it was to be known as the City of Mexico. It was still the capital of what had been The One World, but that, by order of the conquerors, was henceforth to be called New Spain. And, so said the rumors, the new city in no way resembled the old; the buildings were of complex designs and ornamentation that the Caxtilteca must have remembered from their Old Spain, wherever that was.

When eventually we of Aztlan got word that the white men were fighting to subjugate the territories of the Otomi and Purempecha peoples, we fully expected soon to see those marauders arriving on our own doorstep, so to speak, because the northern limit of the Purempecha's land called Michihuacan is no more than ninety one-long-runs from Aztlan. However, the Purempecha put up a fierce and unflagging resistance that kept the invaders embroiled there in Michihuacan for years. Meanwhile, the Otomi people simply melted away before the attackers and let them have that country, for what it was worth. And it was not worth much to anybody, including the rapacious Caxtilteca, because it was and is nothing but what we call the Dead-Bone Lands—arid, bleak, inhospitable desert, as is also all the country north of Michihuacan.

So the white men finally were satisfied to cease their advance at the southern edge of that unlovely desert (what they called the Great Bald Spot). In other words, they established the northern border of their New Spain along a line stretching approximately from Lake Chapalan in the west to the shore of the Eastern Sea, and thus it has remained to this day. Where the southern border of New Spain was finally established, I have no idea. I do know that detachments of the Caxtilteca conquered and settled in the once-Maya territories of Uluumil Kutz and Quautemalan and still farther south, in the blazing, steaming Hot Lands. The Mexica had formerly traded with those lands, but, even at the height of their power, had had no craving to acquire or inhabit them.

During the eventful years that I have sketchily chronicled here, there also occurred the more expectable and less epochal events of my own youth. The day I became seven years old, I was taken before Aztlan's wizened old tonalpoqui, the name-giver, so he could consult his tonalmatl book of names (and ponder all the good and bad omens attendant on the time of my birth), to fix on me the appellation I would wear forever after. My first name, of course, had to be merely that of the day I came into the world: Chicuace-Xochitl, Six-Flower. For my second name, the old seer chose—as having "good portents," he said—Teotl-Tenamaxtli, "Girded Strong As Stone."

Simultaneous with my becoming Tenamaxtli, I commenced my schooling in Aztlan's two telpochcaltin, The House of Building Strength and The House of Learning Manners. When I turned thirteen and donned the loincloth of manhood, I graduated from those lower schools and attended only the city's calmecac, where teacher-priests imported from Tenochtitlan taught the art of word-knowing and many other subjects—history, doctoring, geography, poetry—almost any kind of knowledge a pupil might wish to possess.

"It is also time," said my Uncle Mixtzin, on that thirteenth birthday of mine, "for you to celebrate another sort of graduation. Come with me, Tenamaxtli."

He escorted me through the streets to Aztlan's finest anyanicati and, from the numerous females resident there, picked out the most attractive—a girl almost as young and almost as beautiful as his own daughter Ameyatl—and told her: "This young man is today a man. I would have you teach him all that a man should know about the act of ahuilnema. Devote the entire night to his education."

The girl smiled and said she would, and she did. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed her attentions and the night's activities, and I was duly grateful to my generous uncle. But I also must confess that, unknown to him, I already had been foretasting such pleasures for some months before I merited the manly loincloth.

Anyway, during those years and subsequent years. Aztlan never was visited by even a roving patrol of the Caxtilteca forces, nor were any of the nearer communities with which we Azteca traded. Of course, all the lands north of New Spain had always been sparsely populated in comparison to the midlands. It would not have surprised me if, to the north of our lands, there were hermit tribes who had not yet even heard that The One World had been invaded, or that there existed such things as white-skinned men.

Aztlan and those other communities naturally felt relief at being left unmolested by the conquerors, but we also found that our safety-in-isolation entailed some disadvantages. Since we and our neighbors did not want to attract the attention of the Caxtilteca, we sent none of our pochteca traveling merchants or even swift-messengers venturing across the border of New Spain. This meant that we voluntarily cut ourselves off from all commerce with the communities south of that line. Those had formerly been the best markets in which to sell our homegrown and homemade products—coconut milk and sweets and liquor and soap, pearls, sponges—and from them we had procured items unavailable in our lands—every sort of commodity from cacao beans to cotton, even the obsidian needed for our tools and weapons. So the headmen of various towns roundabout us—Yakoreke, Tepiz, Tecuexe and others—began sending discreet scouting parties southward. These went in groups of three, one of them always a woman, and they went unarmed and unarmored, wearing simple country clothes, seeming to be simple country people trudging to some innocuous family gathering somewhere. They carried nothing to make any Caxtilteca border guards suspicious or predaceous; usually nothing but a leather bag of water and another of pinoli for traveling provisions.

The scouts went forth with understandable apprehension, not knowing what dangers they might encounter on the way. But they went with curiosity, too, their mission being to report back to their headmen on what they saw of life in the midlands, in the towns and cities, and especially in the City of Mexico, now that all was ruled by the white men. On those reports would depend our peoples' decision: whether to approach and ally ourselves with the conquerors, in hope of a resumption of normal trade and social intercourse; or to remain remote and unnoticed and independent, even if poorer for that; or to concentrate on building strong forces and impregnable defenses and an armory of weapons, to fight for our lands when and if the Caxtilteca did come.

Well, in time, almost all the scouts returned, at intervals, intact and unscathed by any misadventures either going or coming. Only one or two parties had even seen a border sentry and, except for the scouts having been awestruck by their first sight of a white man in the flesh, they had nothing to report about their crossing of the border. Those guards had ignored them as if they were no more than desert lizards seeking a new feeding ground. And throughout New Spain, in the countryside, in villages and towns and cities, including the City of Mexico, they had not seen—or heard from any of the local inhabitants—any evidence that the new overlords were any more strict or severe than the Mexica rulers had been.

"My scouts," said Kevari, tlatocapili of the village of Yakoreke, "say that all the surviving pipiltin of the court of Tenochtitlan—and the heirs of those lords who did not survive—have been allowed to keep their family estates and property and lordly privileges. They have been most leniently treated by the conquerors."

"However, except for those few who are still accounted lords or nobles," said Teciuapil, chief of Tecuexe, "there are no more pipiltin. Or working-class macehualtin or even tlacotin slaves. All our people are now accounted equal. And all work at whatever the white men bid them do. So said my scouts."

"Only one of my scouts returned," said Tototl, headman of Tepiz. "He reports that the City of Mexico is almost complete, except for a few very grand buildings still under construction. Of course there are no more temples to the old gods. But the marketplaces, he said, are thronged and thriving. That is why my other two scouts, a married couple, Netzlin and Citlali, chose to stay there and seek their fortune."

"I am not surprised," growled my Uncle Mixtzin, to whom the other chiefs had come to report. "Such peasant oafs would never before in their lives have seen any city. No wonder they report favorably on the new rulers. They are too ignorant to make comparisons."

"Ayya!" bleated Kevari. "At least we and our people made an effort to investigate, while you and your Azteca sit lumpishly here in complacency."

"Kevari is right," said Teciuapil. "It was agreed that all of us leaders would convene, discuss what we have learned and then decide our course of action regarding the Caxtilteca invaders. But all you do, Mixtzin, is scoff."

"Yes," said Tototl. "If you so disdainfully dismiss the honest efforts of our peasant oafs, Mixtzin, then send some of your educated and refined Azteca. Or some of your tame Mexica immigrants. We will postpone any decisions until they return."

"No," my uncle said, after a moment of deep thought. "Like those Mexica who now live among us, I too once saw the city of Tenochtitlan when it stood in its zenith of might and glory. I shall go myself." He turned to me. "Tenamaxtli, make ready, and tell your mother to make ready. You and she will accompany me."

So that was the sequence of events that took the three of us journeying to the City of Mexico—where I would get my uncle's reluctant permission to remain and reside for a time, and where I would learn many things, including the speaking of your Spanish tongue. However, I never took the time to learn the reading and writing of your language—which is why I am at this moment recounting my reminiscences to you, mi querida muchacha, mi inteligente y bellisima y adorada Veronica, so that you may set the words down for all my children and all our children's children to read someday.

And the culmination of that sequence of events was that my uncle, my mother and myself arrived in the City of Mexico in the month of Panquetzaliztli, in the year Thirteen-Reed, what you would call Octubre, of the Ano de Cristo one thousand five hundred thirty and one, on the very day—anyone but the prankish and capricious gods would have deemed it coincidence—that the old man Juan Damasceno was burned to death.

I can still see him burning.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    Salen

    Luna has been kidnapped. Try to help find her.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 6, 2012

    I love this book!! But you have to read AZTEC first.

    I have all Gary Jenning's books. If you like history this book are for you

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 17, 2011

    Oy!

    DO YALL HAVE ANY IDEA THAT MORE THAN 10000 PEOPLE DIED WHEN OUR FRIEND THE UNBELIEVABLY STUPID CORTEZ MOSEYED HIS FAT BUTT INTO TENOCHTITLAN AMD DECIDED TO KILL PEOPLE???? HAVE SOME RESPECT!!! (As uv noticed i have considerable anger on This front) but SERIOUSLY!!! AARGH!!! ALL THOSE CONQUISTADORS WERE PSYCHO DEATHHAPPY JERKS!!!! ok thanx for listning to my rant people!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    B-O-R-I-N-G !!!!!

    I thoroughly enjoyed Aztec, so I presumed this book would be just as informative and entertaining...boy, was I wrong. The author gets bogged down with minute details, and takes almost 500 pages to tell a boring story of a event which I assume was at least partially true. What a waste of time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2007

    So disappointed!

    I loved his novel Aztec. I was so excited when I discovered it has sequels. I only read about 1/3 of the novel and had to stop. I must say that I NEVER stop reading a book. It was awful. Not at all like Aztec. One good thing however, it was a library book, so I didn't waste my money!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2004

    Great book...ending was really good..MUST READ!!

    First I read Aztec Blood, then Aztec then Aztec Autumn...I am glad I read them in that order. Blood is not quite as good as the other two. Aztec Autumn picks up where Aztec left off. Autumn is interesting entertaining and captivating. What more can I say! I could not put it down. It makes me sad to know Mr. Jennings passed away..and no more books will be written. Aztec Blood was ghost written and is very good but not quite like the others. This series is perfect for a 'Sho-gun' type 6 hr movie!! Please make the movie!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2003

    Aztec Autumn is great historical fiction

    Gary Jennings does a wonderful job in transporting his readers to the world of the native people of mexico. It is a very different view of spanish colonialism thru the eyes of the conquered people. The book remains interesting and exciting thru to the last chapter. Jennings shows us the savagery of living in the new world. The main character is consumed by revenge and will stop at nothing to lead a great revolt against the spanish. Tenamaxli goes thru many different and interesting situations and loses so much along the way. The book shows its readers the wide range of human emotions and tendancies from love to hate, friendship to betrayal, and from civility to out right brutality. Aztec Autumn is a book you will enjoy every time you open its pages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 1999

    Almost !

    Mr. Jennings captured my attention with AZTEC. I would recomend reading that work first. Although it was a good story, after reading AZTEC it didn't compare ! I think if the book would have been made longer and more discriptive it could have been 'one of the greats' (like AZTEC). Would love to see Mr. Jennings try again !

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    Posted January 5, 2014

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    Posted January 18, 2009

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    Posted April 6, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2011

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