The book I’m sharing with you today is Arrows of Fire by Marlen Suyapa Bodden. If you like history, then this one may be of interest to you. I love history so I found the topic really interesting, a little sad, and actually a bit of mixed emotions about the topic.
The book is basically about Spain invading Mexico and the war between the Spanish and the native Mexicans. Montezuma vs. Cortes. I don’t know a lot about Mexican history – like at all. I guess I never really thought about it. I’ve been to Mexico twice before and both times I did visit Mayan ruins. I know there were also the Aztecs and other native people, but I guess I never really thought about how Mexico became Spanish speaking etc. I’d also heard of Cortes before, usually in movies where people are looking for his hidden gold and treasure. And I’ve heard of people who get sick while traveling in Mexico from the water saying it’s “Montezuma’s Revenge” but again – never really thought about it.
The book is told from 3 different perspectives and the time frames overlap so it can be a little confusing. I also found it a bit confusing to keep track of all the names and towns. The book is told from the perspectives of Montezuma, Cortes, and Flower – a young native girl who is taken from her family and home. Apparently Montezuma would take young girls and boys away from their families and have his people (priestesses and others) care for them, educate them, train them etc. in hopes that he could pick ones out to impersonate deities. He would then sacrifice them on an altar as a gift to the gods to protect his kingdom and things like that. Flower is one that he became particularly enamored with. All the while Cortes is invading Mexico and Montezuma is trying thwart him, Flower learns what her true fate is there and with the help of others who also want to get out, escapes and joins the rebellion. At first they are just fighting Montezuma’s men because obviously they don’t want to be sacrificed. But then they are also fighting against Cortes’ men because they don’t want to be taken over either.
It’s almost unbelievable how many people were killed through the years of the war. I don’t know exact numbers, but while I was reading it would be like “We killed 20,000 that day and wounded 800 more” or something like that. I’m not exaggerating either – it would be thousands upon thousands at a time! It’s crazy.
I think Montezuma with his sacrifices was a little insane, but at the same time I felt bad for him that Cortes with his greed just basically killed all his people and took over. I mean, as far as I can tell Montezuma didn’t have a desire to expand his empire (I could be wrong but I’m just basing this off the book and not in depth historical research).
So if you like history then you may enjoy this book. As I said earlier, I love history. I do wish that the book read more like a story rather than a list of events and battles told in what seemed like it would be a narrative form but really just gave me information about the sequence of events.
*I received this book complimentary, but all opinions are my own.*