Aztec Autumn by Gary Jennings is the sequel to Aztec-the book chronicling the Aztec empire through the eyes of the warrior Mixtli. It completely knocked my socks off when I read it last year so I was happy to crack open Autumn and continue the adventure. The novel takes place after the invasion of the “One World” by the Spanish conquerors. Young Tenamaxtli travels to the once glorious capital of the empire and sees an old Aztec named Mixtli (yes the one from the previous book) burned at the stake as a heretic by the Spanish priests. Tenamaxtli learns that the man whose horrific death he witnessed was his father. This event incites him to start an uprising against the Spanish to rid the “One World” of the conquerors and restore the Aztec empire to its former glory.
We follow Tenamaxtli as he ingratiates himself to the Spaniards and learns their language. He meets friends from his former city of Aztlan and stays with them while he tries to recreate the Spanish weaponry and gun powder he has seen the Spanish use. When he and his accomplice the beautiful Citlali blow up a Spanish military fort, Tenamaxtli flees the city and returns to his home. From there he starts to build his Army and travels to different tribes in the “One World” to drum up support for his cause.
Aztec Autumn is a good read. The original was so fantastic though that this one does not even come close to touching it. The main reason this occurs is because Aztec is the reader’s first experience with Jennings’ style of writing and his way with descriptive battles, unimaginable violence, and graphic sex scenes. When you read the sequel Aztec Autumn and he writes in the exact same way, you find the material is still good it just lacks the spirit and newness of the original. At times it felt like the Mixtli of the original and the Tenamaxtli of this one could have been interchangeable.
Also it felt like there was a large cast of characters, many of which were one dimensional and introduced briefly. The most interesting characters besides Tenamaxtli were the women he encountered-Citlali the woman who helped him blow up the Spanish fort, the mysterious friend/foe Gnda K’e, Tiptoe-the man hating rape victim who wanted to be a Soldier, Cricket-Tenamaxtli’s lover from the Island of Women…… These were the characters that had substance and held my attention. Everyone else just seemed like props in the action sequences. The book was well researched and the historical detail did help to detract from the character issues.
I find myself up in the air about the ending as well. The situation between the Spaniards and Tenamaxtli’s warriors came to a head rather more quickly than I thought it would and a revelation at the end that I think was meant to be a surprise was not that hard to figure out when it was first hinted at.
I intend to continue this series with Aztec Blood, Aztec Rage, and Aztec Fire but now that I don’t have any illusions of them living up to the original either.