REVIEW: Five Dances With Death: Dance One | Austin Briggs

REVIEW: Five Dances With Death: Dance One
Author: Austin Briggs
Genre: Fantasy / Historical Fiction / Aztecs
Format: eBook
Length: 131 double pages
 

Five Dances With Death: Dance One
charted the highs and lows of a Nahuatl man, warrior and leader of the Tlaxcala people, Angry Wasp, as he searches for his missing daughter, Dew, during a time where the Monetzuma War rages and a Spanish invasion lead by their dreaded leader, Hernán Cortés, draws near.

I applaud author Austin Briggs' ability to pack much thought-provoking research and many insights into this book which makes the mysteries of the Aztecs, their beliefs and rituals, stand out from many other eras commonly used in historical fiction. His use of his lead character's smoke-induced out of body experiences also adds an interesting, fantasy, shamanistic-like slant, where Wasp has been taught by his wife, Broken Plume, to step inside another person's mind (the art of instant travel) and appear before them, many miles away, showing the author's colossal imagination can fly nearly as high as Wasp.

Although Wasp never gave up his search for his long lost daughter, he did seem to swash-buckle his way through the story with little mention of his daughter for a fair while. In addition, the actions of the lead characters must have the most significance as they are responsible to move the story forward and make it interesting, yet at the beginning I didn't quite get this feeling from Wasp. Maybe it was because his language was stilted at times, or it was just a clever trick by the author to keep Wasp's language and character within his time period, but he took time to grown on me. Although, I did find his adventures full of facts and amazing chunks of information, which kept me in this historical fantasy setting and piqued my interest enough to finish it, I felt the story lacked that gripping `how-does-it-end?' touch.

Excellent moments include the action fighting scenes, and the author's meticulous attention to historical detail, from which I learned a lot of interesting facts about Meso-American society and culture. Wasp's habit of jumping out of his body (as his double) straight into the next big fight without contemplating the consequences meant that through his transcendental experiences he cleverly met up with some unlikely and seemingly random but useful characters along the way and a surprise ending, no less.

I also appreciate the author's choice of not going for the real `tongue-twisting' Aztec names like Citlalpopocatzin and Quiahuixtlan, which can be so long and hard to read, they distract the reader from the story. In addition there is a quick pronunciation guide, explanations of 'Places and Tribes' to familiarise readers with the real places and people of Nahuatl, old Mexico, during Aztec times for those historians among you. A thoughtful gesture if ever I've seen one.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Sassy!

    Excellent review, and honest, not sure it would be my cup of tea. It is interesting to see a book that goes into detail about Aztec life.

    Thanks for sharing!

    I finished one of your SSSS from a couple of weeks ago, lol @ http://myblog2point0.blogspot.com/2011/09/sassy-sunday-story-starter-several.html! I've been so busy with two kids in college, I think my head is spinning...

    Thanks!

    Dottie :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to leave a sassy comment. It's truly appreciated. I aim to get back to you as soon as possible -- Sassy :)