Tenochtitlan, 1519. Motecuhzoma, leader of the Mexica Confederacy, rules over the largest domain in all of Mesoamerica and has every expectation that his nation will continue to reign supreme… but the arrival of strange foreigners will test that confidence.
Driven by God, gold, and glory, the uncouth interlopers are led by Hernando Cortes and command weapons that can shake the sky. They hail from a faraway land called Spain, and they may have sinister designs. Their disruptive presence demands a response, and the choice Motecuhzoma must make could elevate his nation to new heights or cause its ruin.
Combining the superb research of the Moundville Duology with the gripping battles of the Conqueror Series, this award-winning novel draws upon modern scholarship to recount an event still unique today: the epic collision of two civilizations separated for millennia.
Author: Edward Rickford
Publisher: Edward Rickford
Page Count: 247
Publication Date: 12/03/2019
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of ‘The Serpent and the Eagle’: 4 out of 5
When the author approached me having noticed my love of (bloody) historical fiction, saying that he had written a book that focused on when Cortez’ expedition from Spain discovered the Aztec/Mexica people and was curious if I would be interested in reviewing it … it wasn’t a hard choice.
In the Serpent and the Eagle, Edward Rickford has achieved wonderful world-building/scene-setting to the extent that even if you aren’t familiar with the history surrounding the novel, you can pick this book up and enjoy it regardless. The entire events of Cortez’ expedition do not unfold in this book, but that is due to the fact that it is only the first in a trilogy. So there will be far more Aztec goodness coming our way in the future. .
The Serpent and the Eagle details incredibly well the events that lead up to just before the meeting of Cortez and Montecuhzoma and it does so from the view points of various characters. We hear from slaves, translators, Aztec (Mexica) people, men of the expedition and even Cortez himself. Each pov has a unique aspect regarding the overall story and ties in really well. My own knowledge of the period is fairly good, but not in-depth enough to pick out parts that may have been artistic embellishment. That lack of knowledge isn’t a bad thing as it just adds to the whole enjoyment factor of not knowing everything that is coming.
I particularly enjoyed the way Cortez intelligence shines through when dealing with the newfound Mexica people that are close at hand and when dealing with the ties that bind him back home in Spain. He is an interesting character due to how the reader both has reasons to like and admire the man, but hate him for his darker transgressions.
I only have two slight drawbacks regarding the novel as a whole. The first being that, in some places, it feels like it moves a little slow. I prefer a pretty fast pace throughout and this, in parts fell a tad short of my preferred pacing. Not enough for me to not enjoy it, however. My second point would be that in places the speech felt a bit laboured. Mostly regarding the Mexica people (but in places the expedition of Cortez was a tad guilty of this). When someone said something to someone else, they would often, during the same conversation, say the same thing in two or three different ways and it just made the flow seem to halt a little.
My drawbacks were not nearly large enough to overshadow the enjoyment I got out of the piece, however. The Serpent and the Eagle is well worth picking up for anyone with a love of historical fiction.