The Jaguar Princess

Clare E. Bell, Author Tor Books $23.95 (443p) ISBN 978-0-312-09704-2
Mysticism, shape-changing, art and brutal religiosity are melded in this vivid tale of a seldom-plumbed time and place--the Aztec Empire at its height, before the arrival of European invaders. With a deep sense of time and place, Bell ( People of the Sky ) tells of the girl-child Mixcatl, stolen from her jungle village and bound into slavery in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan at the age of six, where she labors as a menial at a priests' school until her talent for art brings her the chance to apprentice as a scribe. Her destiny changes when Wise Coyote, tlatoani (Speaker King) of the client state Texcoco, learns that Mixcatl is a member of the clan called the Jaguar's Children, fabled rulers from a distant time. As Wise Coyote tries to use Mixcatl's as yet unrevealed talent as a shape-changer in his struggle against the Aztec king Ilhuicamina, whose sacrifices to the god Hummingbird on the Left grow vaster and deadlier every year, the girl attempts to control her growing powers while developing a gentle love for his son, the artist Huetzin. Drawing on unusual and powerful symbols, Bell brings a vanished civilization to life in this unusual fantasy. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
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