Montezuma and the Fall of the Aztecs

Eric A. Kimmel, Author, Daniel San Souci, Illustrator Holiday House $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1452-9
Kimmel's (The Two Mountains, reviewed above) ambitious yet problematic recounting of the Aztec nation's demise opens with a description of Montezuma II and the 16th-century empire over which he ruled in what is now central and southern Mexico. ""But all was not well in Montezuma's domain,"" the narrative continues. Kimmel demonstrates that the Aztecs' penchant for capturing other peoples and sacrificing them to their gods led almost inevitably to the Aztecs' downfall: the Spanish explorer Cort s successfully drafts the conquered people into his cause and overthrows Montezuma. San Souci's (Ice Bear and Little Fox) opening watercolors give the Aztecs an exotic air by focusing on the pageantry and grandeur of Montezuma's court; his later illustrations capture the violence (if not the blood and gore) of the battles between the two warring groups. The complexities of Montezuma's and Cort s's characters are necessarily glossed over in a volume this brief; unfortunately, only a final author's note explains that the Spanish rule to follow would prove even more tyrannical than that of the Aztecs. Consequently, readers may come away with the false impression that Cort s was a liberator rather than a conqueror. Ages 6-10. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Genre: Children's
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