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The Goldsmith's Daughter

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Overview

A bearer of doom, or a bringer of change? As the Aztec empire falls, one girl defies her destiny.

In the golden city of Tenochtitlán, the people live in awe of Emperor Montezuma and in fear of blood-hungry gods. Under an ill-fated sky, a girl is born, facing a life of submission and domestic drudgery. But Itacate has a secret passion for goldwork, forbidden to women, and is forced to disguise her identity to protect herself and her family. When her city is shaken by Cortez’s ...

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Overview

A bearer of doom, or a bringer of change? As the Aztec empire falls, one girl defies her destiny.

In the golden city of Tenochtitlán, the people live in awe of Emperor Montezuma and in fear of blood-hungry gods. Under an ill-fated sky, a girl is born, facing a life of submission and domestic drudgery. But Itacate has a secret passion for goldwork, forbidden to women, and is forced to disguise her identity to protect herself and her family. When her city is shaken by Cortez’s invasion, Itacate challenges fate, culture, and faith by crafting golden statues — and pursuing the love of a man who should be her enemy. From the author of I AM APACHE comes a tale of clashing cultures, a rich and powerful depiction of Aztec life during the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Summer Whiting
Itacate is a fifteen-year-old girl who lives in Tenochtitlan, embraced by the Aztec Empire under the rule of the mighty Montezuma. She is doomed from her very first breath. Her mother, who dies in the midst of delivery, gives birth to her under an ill-timed sky. Because of this, the priests have predicted that she will live a meaningless and worthless life, inflicting pain upon many. Her father, who works as a goldsmith, later realizes that his daughter has a gift for gold work; he allows her to follow him into the market, where she humbly aids him in making decisions regarding jewels and handiwork. This is a profession forbidden to women and Itacate has no choice but to disguise herself. Soon strangers begin to arrive in her city and rumors fly. Itacate wonders if the prophecy given to her at birth is about to come true. This is a historical depiction of love, deception, and danger that brings new life to a historical moment. Reviewer: Summer Whiting
Kirkus Reviews
Readers meander through Itacate's childhood in Tenochtitlan observing omens that foretell the arrival of the Spaniards. An apprentice to her father, she is taken to Montezuma to prepare gold figurines for the strangers. She's smitten with golden-haired Francisco, and the narrative shifts to romance and war, ending as the two declare they will live "Like beasts. Yes. With no priests. No gods. . . . [T]ogether we shall make a new world." All characters are utterly flat, including Itacate, who speaks as if she's a tour guide to her life. Landman gratuitously capitalizes on images of savagery while applying a veneer of sympathy to her questionable depiction of the culture. A "historical note" explains that the author has changed events "in order to make the plot work," has "been fairly free" in depicting Montezuma and Cortes (including conflating Cortes with his deputy) and that while this "isn't necessarily a historically precise book, it evokes how it might have felt to live at that time." However, the plot hardly compels, and there is nothing evocative of reality, making this a failure of fiction as well as of history. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763642198
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,177,811
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Tanya Landman is the author of the acclaimed novel I AM APACHE. She lives in Devon, England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for Teens Read Too

    Fifteen-year-old Itacate, an Aztec girl who lives in the great city of Tenochtitlán, began her life by defying the gods, refusing to be cast aside in the corner and left to die. Born under a bad sky a few moments before her twin brother's welcome birth, the priests predict that she will bring ill fortune to all those around her, while her brother is destined to be a great warrior. Itacate loves her brother, Mitotiqui, dearly, but cannot help but feel resentment as their paths diverge in life - his to education and a life blessed by the gods, and hers to a life of drudgery, chained to a loom and pounding maize, with no hope for anything better. One day, their father, a goldsmith, recognizes Itacate's eye for working with stones and fine metal, and Itacate unwittingly replaces her brother as her father's assistant, incurring his jealousy. While they must keep Itacate's involvement in her father's workshop a secret, since it is forbidden for a woman to work with gold, the gods appear displeased, for a fire and then a flood attack their city. Soon after, rumors begin circulating that strangers have appeared in the land of the Maya, and they are traveling towards Tenochtitlán. Itacate and her father, commissioned by the great leader, Montezuma, to work in the palace, soon find themselves involved firsthand when the Spanish invade the inner court of Montezuma's palace. With the destruction, war, and loss that inevitably befall the entire Aztec empire, Itacate wonders if the prediction made at the time of her birth was true, or if something akin to peace may indeed be found in her future. Although the author took much liberty regarding the sequence and particulars of these ancient events, I found myself captivated by her treatment of this historical period. Seeing the world through the eyes of a young Aztec woman, one of the silent majority who have left little mark on historical records, brings a fresh view to the everyday life of the citizens of this once great empire.

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