Daughter of the Sun

Daughter of the Sun

by Barbara Wood




Set in the Toltec court, amongst the mysterious Anasazi people - Humble young Hoshitiwas world is turned upside down when she is captured by the powerful ruler of an infamous city famed for its untold wealth and legendary acts of violence. She must adapt quickly to survive, for Hoshitiwa has been thrown into the court of the Dark Lord, and in her struggle for power and survival, she begins an illicit affair with the one man who can destroy her . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780727867308
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Pages: 453
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Barbara Wood is the internationally bestselling author of twenty-one novels.

Read an Excerpt

Daughter of the Sun

By Barbara Wood

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Wood
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-1826-8


The runner sprinted down the paved road, his heart pounding with fear. Although his feet were bleeding, he dared not stop. He looked back. His eyes widened in terror. He stumbled, fought for balance, and pushed on. He had to warn the clan.

A Dark Lord was coming.

Ahoté could not help his forbidden thoughts. There sat beautiful Hoshi'tiwa, just a hundred paces from where he stood at the Memory Wall, radiant in the sunshine as she spun cotton ribbons for her bridal costume. She looked so happy in front of her small adobe house shaded by cottonwood trees, with the fresh stream trickling nearby. All she had been able to talk about was the coming wedding day. But all Ahoté could think about was the wedding night.

His father pinched him.

Under the elder's tutelage, eighteen-year-old Ahoté was reciting the clan history, using the pictographs painted on the wall as a guide. Each symbol represented a major event in the past. And as there were too many events recorded on the Memory Wall — symbolized by spirals, animals, people, lightning strikes — for the clan to remember, it was the job of one man, He Who Links People.

This was the sacred calling to which young Ahoté was apprenticed and upon which he must concentrate. But his mind was wandering.

His father scowled. Takei did not understand the boy's lovesick state. When Takei had wed, years ago, a girl chosen by his parents, he had done his duty, begetting many children on her. He had never wasted his time in moony-eyed daydreaming and sexual fantasies. Sex was for creating children, not for idle amusement. If Takei had ever taken pleasure in the intimate act, he could not recall it.

He glowered at his son. Lovesickness was exactly that — a sickness, and Ahoté's mind was so infected with it, he could not concentrate on his recitations. If only the wedding day could be brought forward, Takei thought, tomorrow perhaps, so the boy could flush the lust out of his system. But the shamans had cast the fortunes of all involved and had declared that the soonest good-luck day was yet three months away!

Takei experienced a ripple of fear. Lust and love seduced a man's mind from his holy works. Was the boy in danger of weakening before the wedding, risking a spiritual pollution that would profane his sacred task?

A dour, unhappy man who believed the gods had singled him out for a life of bad luck, Takei wished now he had not given in to Ahoté's pleas to marry Hoshi'tiwa, wished he had had a matchmaker find a girl in another settlement, one not as pretty and clever as Sihu'mana's daughter. Takei's only hope was that this was just a phase, a matter of Ahoté wanting something he couldn't have. Some men were like that, hungering for the out-of-reach, like desiring a married woman. Hoshi'tiwa was forbidden to Ahoté right now, and that fired the blood. But once he could have the girl anytime he wanted, day or night, the fever would leave him. Or so Takei prayed.

As Ahoté's hungry gaze strayed again to the lovely Hoshi'tiwa sitting in the sunshine, her poppy-red tunic a bright warm beacon, his boy's body stirring with a man's desires as he thought of his coming nights as a husband, another sharp pinch on his arm brought him back to the lesson, and he recited: "And then the people knew the Spring of Abundant Hunting, when elk came down from the plateau to offer themselves as food." The symbol painted on the wall was an elk with arrows in its body.

The last symbol on the wall was a circle with six lines trailing it, marking the sighting of a comet streaking the sky the summer before. No new symbols had been added since because nothing of significance had taken place. As he recited for his father, Ahoté wondered what new symbol would be added next, continuing the clan's long history.

Far down the highway, which cut through the vast plain and between plateaus, the runner fell, his right knee cracking in pain. As he struggled to his feet, he felt in the paving stones of the wide highway the vibrations of the thundering feet of the advancing army. He swallowed in terror, tasted blood and salt on his tongue.

The cannibals were coming.

Hoshi'tiwa looked over at handsome Ahoté at the Memory Wall, his sinewy body gleaming in the sun as he wore only a loincloth, and her heart swelled with love and hope. Life was good. Spring flowers bloomed everywhere. The nearby stream ran with cool fresh water and fish. The clan was healthy and prosperous. And Hoshi'tiwa, seventeen years old, was looking forward to her wedding day.

She sat in the sunshine at the base of the cliff, spinning cotton for her bridal costume. She sat cross-legged as she twirled a wooden spindle up and down her thigh, deftly plucking clean fibers from a basket filled with carded cotton and adding them to the growing thread that would be dyed and woven into a ribbon for her hair.

All around her the clan was going about the daily business of living: the farmers planting corn, women tending cook fires and watching the children, and the potters creating the rain jars for which her clan was most famous.

As she spun her cotton, Hoshi'tiwa did not know that on the other side of the world, a strange race of people had named this cycle of the sun the Year of Our Lord, 1150. She was unaware that they rode on the backs of beasts, something her own people did not do, and used a tool called a wheel to transport goods. Hoshi'tiwa knew nothing of cathedrals and gunpowder, popes and Crusades, nor did she know that those strange people gave names to their canyons and rivers and hills.

Hoshi'tiwa's settlement had no name. Nor did the nearby stream, nor the mountains that watched over them. Many years in the future, another race would come to this place and apply names to everything they saw and walked upon. Two hundred miles to the southeast of where Hoshi'tiwa felt warm sun on her arms, a town would be established and called Albuquerque. The area surrounding it for 120,000 square miles would be known as New Mexico. The young bride did not know that centuries hence, strangers would roam the land to the north of her settlement and call it Colorado.

There was only one place, far away in the southeast, that she knew by name, Center Place, so called because it was the hub of trade and communication for her people, and an important religious center. Even so, centuries hence, the name of Center Place would be changed to Chaco Canyon, and men and women known as anthropologists would stand in the ruins at Chaco Canyon and speculate and argue and debate and theorize over what they called the Abandonment. They would wonder, those people in the far future, why Hoshi'tiwa and her people, whom the anthropologists would incorrectly call Anasazi, had vanished so suddenly and without a trace.

Hoshi'tiwa was ignorant of the fact that she would one day be part of an ancient mystery. Had she known, she would argue that there was nothing mysterious about her life. Her clan had lived at the foot of this escarpment for generations, and in all those centuries, little had changed. Hoshi'tiwa was a simple corn grower's daughter who counted her blessings, secure in the knowledge that tomorrow would be the same as yesterday.

Her thoughts broke like a bubble when she saw Ahoté, while his father's back was turned, gesture to her. It was their private signal. She knew what it meant: At the first opportunity, he wanted to be alone with her.

She nodded in secret response. And her heart began to race.

The runner fell again, stamping his blood into the road's sandstone surface, his knees scraped and bleeding, his bones screaming in pain. He could save himself, he knew, by running to the left, off the highway and down a narrow ravine that would shield him from the approaching army. But the people in the settlement were his kin. They were relying on him as the lookout to warn them in times of danger.

Other families — entire settlements — were now completely gone because they did not have lookouts to warn them when the Jaguars came. If he died at the end of his run, at least his family would survive. And so he pushed on.

Hoshi'tiwa's mother paused in her labor at the grinding stone, where she was turning corn into flour, and squinted up at the sky. The world looked right, but it didn't feel right. She glanced around. There was young Maya, sitting in the shade of a cottonwood tree, breast-feeding her greatgrandfather. Though her baby wailed in its basket on her back, it would have to wait until the elder was fed. The old man had long since lost his teeth, and now he was having difficulty swallowing gruel. Therefore, after the age-old custom of keeping the precious elders alive — for they alone had memories of what went before — his great-granddaughter nourished him with her own milk.

From the mudbrick dwelling next door came screams through the gaping doorway. Hoshi'tiwa's mother could see, in the darkness, her friend Lakshi, on her knees, her arms over her head with her wrists tied to a rope suspended from the ceiling. Kneeling in front of Lakshi and behind her, two midwives coaxed the babe into the world.

All things normal, nothing out of the ordinary. Yet something was wrong. The air was too still, sounds too muted, sunlight too golden. Was this the day, Sihu'mana wondered, the day she had dreamed about in troubled sleep long ago? Had it come at last? Or was it just a mother's nervousness before a wedding?

Her thoughts were interrupted by a sudden cry.

At the western terminus of the canyon, where the adobe houses ended and a dense forest of cottonwoods began, a cluster of boulders stood upon ground that had been declared sacred generations prior. Here the sun-watcher priest marked the cycles of the sun as it journeyed back and forth between the Solstices. The priest lived in a shelter nearby, never leaving his post, so that today, like every day, he marked the transit of the midday sun until the shadows disappeared beneath the boulders. Seeing this, he gave a shout.

It was time for the noon meal.

Those working in the fields laid down their digging sticks and baskets of seeds, said a prayer to the corn spirits, and began streaming back into the settlement — over a hundred men, women, and children, to be greeted by family members offering gourds of sweet water and places at the cook fires. The men were fed first, by tradition, being handed stacks of thin corn tortillas, or tamales filled with beans and squash, along with roasted onions, chili peppers, and corn on the cob.

Ahoté's father left the Memory Wall, his stomach growling, his mouth watering for the crispy pancakes he would fill with spicy beans. But Ahoté remained. He was hungry — but not for food.

Hoshi'tiwa, laying aside her carding and cotton, gracefully rose to her feet, but she did not join her mother at their cook fire, where her father sank gratefully to the earth after a morning of hard labor and accepted the hot pancakes from Sihu'mana.

Food was not on Hoshi'tiwa's mind. She looked across the golden sunlight at Ahoté, whose eyes were on her. The breath caught in her throat and her heart pounded. When Ahoté spun about and dashed into the nearby cottonwood trees, Hoshi'tiwa lithely sprinted after him.

Chatter and laughter filled the canyon as the men ate their fill and the women and girls served them, but Sihu'mana's eyes followed her daughter into the forest. She felt her heart tighten with fear and dread. Remembering when she herself was young and love had sustained her instead of food, she grew alarmed. Was her daughter going to weaken before the wedding night?

No mother's head rested easy at night while her daughter existed in that fragile state between girlhood and marriage. Once Hoshi'tiwa was under a husband's protection, Sihu'mana, like mothers since the beginning of time, would breathe more easily.

There were two things the marriage partners brought to the union: the man, his courage; and the woman, her honor. Preserving her daughter's virginity had not been easy, because Hoshi'tiwa was blessed — or cursed, depending on how one looked at it — with beauty. Whenever visitors came to the settlement, Sihu'mana kept a close watch on her daughter. Everyone still remembered, although they never spoke of it, the poor girl Kowka who, just days before her wedding, was with her sisters hunting for ground finch eggs when she had strayed upstream and a band of marauders from the north had happened upon her, alone and unprotected. She had survived the attack, but no man would marry her after that because of the clan's complex rules and taboos regarding sex. The elders had declared her makai-yó — unclean — and despite pleas of leniency from her mother, Kowka was driven from the village and never heard from again.

The sudden appearance of Kowka in her thoughts now alarmed Sihu'mana, and she quickly whispered words of good luck and traced a protective sign in the air. She had not thought of the unfortunate girl in years. Was it an omen?

Hoshi'tiwa plunged into the dense trees, looking this way and that. "Ahoté!" she whispered eagerly. "Where are you?"

She listened. Birds chirped in branches overhead. The fragrance of spring flowers filled the air. The forest was peaceful and sun-dappled. Hoshi'tiwa tiptoed forward, her ears alert for a telltale sound, her eyes scouring the ground for footprints or a shadow. "Where are you?" she called again, softly, relishing the moment when she found him. This was their private game — hide-and-seek — in which Ahoté pretended to chase her until she let him catch her.

When Ahoté jumped out, she gave a mock cry and turned to run. But he caught her and swung her back, to take hold of her by the waist and pull her to him. He looked into her eyes for a long, breathless moment; then he gently rubbed his nose to hers.

Hoshi'tiwa giggled. "My sweet funny Owl." It had been her pet name for him ever since, one night the winter before, they had been gathered around the fire and Ahoté had been so frightened by one of the storyteller's ghost tales that a five-year-old boy had cried, "Uncle Ahoté, you are so scared, your eyes are as big as an owl's!"

While the women and girls of Hoshi'tiwa's clan wore their hair long, the men and boys kept theirs cut short, hacking it off above the ears with a sharp obsidian knife. When Ahoté jumped out, he had brushed his short hair up into two "owl horns," and Hoshi'tiwa laughed. She now reached up and smoothed his black hair down, bringing her hands to rest on either side of his face, her eyes glistening with love.

As Ahoté touched his nose to Hoshi'tiwa's, and she allowed him to kiss her in this fashion, he burned for more. How was he going to last the three months until their wedding night? When he lifted his hand and brushed his fingers over her breast, feeling the firm flesh beneath the fabric of her tunic, Hoshi'tiwa drew back, suddenly shy.

Although she knew of the private ways between men and women, knew how intimate love was expressed, how men begot babies upon their wives, Hoshi'tiwa was uncertain how she felt about the intimacy she would soon share with Ahoté. Her mother had told her she would find it pleasurable, and Hoshi'tiwa supposed she would, but more important to her was the laughter they would share, the secrets they would whisper late into the night. When she thought of their lives together, she pictured herself cooking for Ahoté, delighting him with food, giving him children, making him proud.

"I love you," he murmured now. "Tell me you love me. It's permissible. We are almost married."

Although she wanted to speak the words, her tongue froze. Hoshi'tiwa had been taught that emotions were powerful magic and therefore must always be kept in check, even such positive emotions as love. To release them by word or gesture was to set free a force that could wreak havoc upon the clan. Everyone knew that words of anger caused sickness, vocalized hatred brought about death; strong emotions destroyed crops and caused miscarriages. Even love, though good, had been known to incite envy, jealousy, and mistrust. So Hoshi'tiwa had been trained, like all her people, to be conservative in actions and speech. But it was all right, her mother had counseled, for husband and wife to exchange endearments — they were encouraged to, in fact, for such tender words enriched the womb and brought forth healthy babies.


Excerpted from Daughter of the Sun by Barbara Wood. Copyright © 2007 Barbara Wood. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

Where Did They Go?

An Original Essay by Barbara Wood

Daughter of the Sun is based on several unexplained mysteries found in the American Southwest.

All the significant locations mentioned in the book exist today and can be visited and explored: the rising-splendor called Precious Green is known today as Pueblo Bonito and the Star Chamber is called Casa Rinconada, to name a few. We do not know who built these great pueblos, or why. The "safe house" carved high in the cliff over Hoshi'tiwa's home settlement is typical of such mysterious cliff dwellings found all over the Four Corners region of the Southwest. No one knows who built these strange, inaccessible fortresses, or for what reason. Likewise, the wide, straight paved highways exist today, and experts cannot agree on their original purpose. Kivas are found in modern-day Hopi pueblos as well as in Anasazi ruins. Thousands have been discovered and, again, experts cannot determine what their original purpose was.

Rock art (in petroglyphs and pictographs) offers little in the way of explanation. The prophetic wall of symbols that Yani shows to Hoshi'tiwa exists today at the eastern end of the canyon. Many believe it records an astronomical event that took place in the year 1054 A.D. when a star went supernova and could be seen all over the world. Others who have studied the pictograph believe it is merely a representation of Venus in the night sky at the time of the crescent moon.

Finally, there is the mysterious event historians call the Abandonment.

We know that, a thousand years ago, Chaco Canyon was the center of a thriving civilization, and the nexus of a vast network of trade routes. We believe that the Great Houses (the rising-splendors) were used for religious and administrative purposes. But who, exactly, lived there we do not know, or why, after centuries of living in the canyon, the entire populace suddenly vanished, almost overnight. The fact that intact pottery, tools, and clothing have been found in the ruins leads us to believe that the departure was unplanned and hurried. We also do not know where those Chaco Canyon inhabitants went after they left. A deeper mystery is why, after a thousand years of habitation, building a rich cultural center, did they never return?

The modern-day Hopi say that the Anasazi were their ancestors and that after they left Chaco Canyon, they went west to settle on today's familiar mesas. Yet the term "Anasazi" is in fact a Navajo word meaning "ancient enemy." No one knows the origin of the term, why or when it was first coined, and so we are brought back to the question: Who were the inhabitants of Chaco Canyon?

All of these elements, existing today and accessible to visitors and explorers, are combined in Daughter of the Sun, like pieces of a puzzle, to form a picture of what might have happened there long ago.

Keep on Reading:

Frazier, Kendrick.

People of Chaco: A Canyon and Its Culture.

W. W. Norton & Company, 1999.

One of the absolute best references for those just starting to explore the subject.

Gabriel, Kathryn.

Roads to Center Place: A Cultural Atlas of Chaco Canyon and the Anasazi.

Johnson Books, 1991.

A remarkable work. The reader gets so caught up it is hard to put this book down.

Lourie, Peter.

The Lost World of the Anasazi.

Boyds Mills Press, 2003.

This book contains breathtaking pictures of Chaco Canyon. They are the next best thing to being there.

Roberts, David.

In Search of the Old Ones.

Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Poetic, lyrical, beautifully written. Draws you into the mystery so that you don't want to let go.

Vivian, R. Gwinn, and Hilpert, Bruce.

The Chaco Handbook: An Encyclopedic Guide. University of Utah Press, 2002.

An in-depth reference for the truly interested, and in a convenient format. Absolutely everything you want to know about the Chaco phenomenon.

Waters, Frank.

Book of the Hopi.

Penguin Books, 1963.

If the Hopi are indeed the descendants of the Anasazi, this book provides a rare window into what their ancestors were like.

A stunning historical novel of intrigue, seduction, murder, and mystery, set in a glittering and opulent era

Hoshi'tiwa is 17 years old, a member of an unnamed clan in what will, centuries later, become New Mexico. Her life is simple—she is a corn grower's daughter and she will soon marry a storyteller's apprentice. Until she is captured by the powerful and violent ruler of Center Place, a legendary city of untold wealth and unspeakable violence. Suddenly, Hoshi'tawa must negotiate the ways of the Dark Lord's court without losing her knowledge of herself or her clan. She will gather what power she can, and discover a forbidden love with the one man who has the ability to destroy her at will. Bestselling author Barbara Wood has written a novel of an extraordinary woman drawn into a world of violence, passion, gods, and sacrifice.

1. Historians and archaeologists still do not know why Chaco Canyon was abandoned. The drought in Daughter of the Sun is one theory. Can you think of other reasons a people would pick up and abandon a thriving settlement, never to return?

2. The Toltecs and the People of the Sun did not believe that anything happened by accident. Everything is part of a great cosmic design and we can read our fate in the stars. Does this still leave room for free will?

3. If you had access to a time machine and you could visit any period or event in the North American past——but only one——what would you choose, and why?

4. What is the significance of dreams in Daughter of the Sun? Do they foretell the future? Do they bring messages from the gods/God, as Lord Jakál believed? Or are they merely the random misfirings of a sleepy brain?

5. What was the purpose of the Anasazi roads? The people of Chaco Canyon did not have beasts of burden, they did not have the wheel. So why did they need wide, straight highways?

6. Regarding White Orchid's secret adoption: Why is bloodline so important? Can love make up for not being related to one's parent? How important is it to know where one came from?

7. Hoshi'tiwa was willing to die for her beliefs. Is there anything you would give your life for? And how is self-sacrifice different from the human sacrifice described in the book?

8. The final battle in the book is sparked by a single act of defiance——a person from the crowd throws a rock. A simple gesture producing profound consequences. Can you think of a time in history when other such simple acts had such a powerful influence?

9. Hoshi'tiwa believes that nothing dies, that there is constant change in the universe. When a person dies, he or she is not lost but joins the stars, the rocks, and all life. What do you think?

10. Hoshi'tiwa's mother tells her she "was born to a special purpose." Are we all born for a special purpose? If we believe this, then how does this tie in with the belief in a cosmic Oneness, that all things are connected, that we are part of a universal design and that nothing happens by accident?

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