99 Aztec Century - your reaction

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Did you like the book? Appreciate its construction? The plot? Characters? World-building? Technology?

Comments

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    I liked the book. Early in the reading, I was thinking I'd probably rate it 3 stars (which in GoodReads terms means 'i liked it') but as the plot developed through the middle of the book, and the relationship between Catherine and Extepan deepend and developed, I was starting to think we were going somewhere interesting and special and I was going to bump this up to 4 our of 5. It was reminding me of Guy Gavriel Kay's novel, Tigana, which is also about the occupation (and magical erasing) of a country. In that novel, we have several POV characters that are the descendants of the ex-royal family of the occupied nation, and one of them has become the concubine of the conqueror. Aztec Century was reminding me of that book, and I think if Evans had stuck to this path he could have done something really interesting and subtle with this. Sadly, it all came crashing down in the end, and we ended up with a trite little domestic drama of the kind you see on Death in Paradise starring Danny John Jules. So, being disappointed by the ending (and the rather bizarre late introduction of a portal to other worlds!?) I'm back to 3 out of 5 in the end.

    As for the technology, I was kind of enjoying how this science-fantasy world was evolving with jet copters and perhaps rudimentary computers and sunflowers that literally cast light at night, and some kind of space laser. The like the big reveal of the main plot, the big reveal of the portals was a step too far.

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    I thought the world-building was interesting. The AH diversion point seemed to be Cortez joining forces with the Aztecs and therefore the Spanish conquest never happening. The technology was mostly described at the right level of detail: mostly it just worked in the background, there were a couple of elements that were worth mentioning in detail, and the book didn't dwell on it. The notion of syphilis as a new disease in Europe was neat.

    Plot and characters? It was mainly "entitled person sits in room" and I got bored.

    For the bit where I was paying attention, the book didn't seem to fall into the trap of Othering the Aztecs: there was a range of characters who all behaved relatively believably. There seemed to be something at the end along the lines of "they're all freaks into human sacrifice after all" which may have been problematic. But I wasn't paying enough attention then to be sure.

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    I thought the 'human sacrifice' angle worked as an imagined red herring fear, kind of the way PizzaGate does in the states. I wonder, though, if ultimately the book did fall into the trap of 'othering' the Aztecs at the end, when our main relatable Aztec was revealed to be a sham.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    I thought the 'human sacrifice' angle worked as an imagined red herring fear, kind of the way PizzaGate does in the states. I wonder, though, if ultimately the book did fall into the trap of 'othering' the Aztecs at the end, when our main relatable Aztec was revealed to be a sham.

    Wasn't there something at the end where Alex was executed, flayed, and the skin used to intimidate Catherine? I'll admit, I was skipping the book at that point so may have the details wrong.

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    Yes, exactly.

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    Though the veracity of this was questioned in that both women had been given various drugs including hallucinogenic ones, partly as preparation for the travel to our world and partly to disorient them. So to some extent potentially they were seeing what they most feared to see, in a kind of bad trip sense.
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    Yes, exactly.
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    I don't know to what extent the last scenes on the other earth were real. I am quite familiar with both peyote and psilocybin, two psychedelics the Aztecs would have easy access to, having taken quite a bit of both in the seventies, and the things seen could have been to a large extent imagined.

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    Yes, exactly.

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    That was intended as a confirmation from experience, not a dispute... ;)

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    Yes, precisely.
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    I also enjoyed the book until the end. I didn’t think the protagonist’s actions were in character when she brought her (ex-)husband back to her place in order to be found in bed with him. And,,like others, I thought the last-minute revelation of portals to another world was just too much.

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    @WildCard said:
    I also enjoyed the book until the end. I didn’t think the protagonist’s actions were in character when she brought her (ex-)husband back to her place in order to be found in bed with him. And,,like others, I thought the last-minute revelation of portals to another world was just too much.

    Yes, it seemed an uncharacteristically flamboyant way to make her point that she at last understood what was happening :) Maybe best understood as that she had been driven beyond her ability to maintain the pretence?

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