cover image A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya

A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya

Linda Schele. William Morrow & Company, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-07456-2

The classical Maya world of Yucatan and Guatemala (200-900 A.D.) was organized into 50 or more independent states. Literate, warlike kings, with names like Smoking-Frog, Lady Zac-Kuk, Bird-Jaguar and Lord Water, ruled through the myths and symbolism they shared with their people. As told in this vibrant sociopolitical tapestry by two Maya archeologists, Maya royal history unfolds as a story of war and expansion, machinations and revenge, ritual sacrifice and struggles for legitimacy. Much of this material is based on recently deciphered hieroglyphic texts and artifacts. Interweaving 250 illustrations with the narrative, Schele, a professor at the University of Texas, and Freidel, who teaches at Southern Methodist University, vividly conjure the Maya world of cyclical time and multiple levels of reality, a universe where all things are alive with meaning. History Book Club main selection; BOMC featured alternate; Macmillan Book Club and QPB alternates. (Oct.)