For a fantastic Mayan-esque fantasy, for a ripe and unique world of belief and gods, for anyone who wants to imagine more about the world in the movie The Road to El Dorado
The emperor is dead, and before the crown Prince Ahkin can take his father’s place, he must choose an empress. While bearing the burden of raising the sun every day and attempting to prevent another apocalypse, he must now find a wife amongst the noble houses that each wield their own kind of magic. Mayana, meanwhile, is sure she won’t be picked by the emperor, dooming her to be sacrificed in a blessing to the marriage. She can’t stand the sacrifices, but in a world where that belief is embedded in every daily action, she struggles to hide her thoughts on the matter. That’s easier said than done when she’s in a selection for future empress, however…
I have noticed that I don’t read much with Central or South American styles or themes to it. However, The Road to El Dorado is one of my favorite movies, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of that fact as I was reading descriptions of huge towering golden temples with countless steps, of lush jungles where panthers stalk, and of blood sacrifices that allow the demigods to wield incredible magic. And so, perhaps it’s not that surprising that I somewhat fell in love with this world. 😍
Complex belief systems, especially when coupled with gods and myths, always suck me in. I loved learning the lore of this world, and the absolutely gorgeous setting didn’t hurt either! I wanted to know more about the other princesses, particularly the storm princess, as several hints were dropped but never built upon.
The story felt a bit rushed to me around the middle. Mayana being chosen after a day and a half, with two interactions directly with Ahkin that consisted of him coming to spy on her while she’s swimming naked, and him coming to make out with her and try to get her naked again. That’s a bit of a generalization, but honestly the romance and draw between them felt very weak and unconvincing. THAT IS, until we got to the last few chapters and learned some very important details. Honestly the way it was all tied together towards the end resolved most of the issues I had been having, because it was so well done and so EXCITING. I can’t wait to read the next one, but unfortunately, I’ll have to.
Some questions for the author:
– Does menstrual blood count for the sacrifices? Are the women just mad powerful for a week each month? Or is that just discreetly not a thing for these women?
– Do they have any blood-based diseases? Because those people were definitely sharing knives and I’m thinking there’s no way that’s sterile.
Yes… this is what I think about.
Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!