Montezuma's Daughter by Henry Rider Haggard
Rated: PG-13 (historical violence)
Recommended for: Ages 13 and up
This remarkable novel by adventure writer H. Rider Haggard can be enjoyed on many levels. As a tale of adventure, it takes the reader through 16th-century England, Spain, and Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest. But on a deeper level, the author's hopes for humanity shine through the darkness of this time to illuminate the reader with his spiritual philosophy. The closing chapters on the fall of the Aztec capital of Tenoctitlan under the assault of Cortez are profoundly moving. Montezuma's Daughter is a fascinating historical novel and love story, with enough action to keep even the most jaded reader on the edge of the chair. And those who value the deeper aspects of the author's writing will not be disappointed. This publication from Boomer Books is specially designed and typeset for comfortable reading.
This is the second book that I have read by this author, and it is just as good. Though there is a lot in common between the main villains in both books.
This book is not written as most old books in a style that sometimes drags. It is full of danger and excitement and if it ever drags, then it is at the very beginning where everything is being introduced. The story is written by the main character who is writing everything that he experienced down. As a result of this, he gives a lot of spoilers. Before the story really gets started you already know who is going to die and who survives. It was easy to read and still interesting. There is suspense from not knowing how something is going to happen.
There is a lot of traveling in this story. It starts out in England and then goes to Spain and then across the ocean to Central America. From what I remember about this period of history, the events in this book seem to be accurate but it makes me want to learn more about it to see what was real and what was fiction, especially to see if some of the people were really real and that influential. I do know that Montezuma welcomed the Spaniards, but I don't know if the rest of the Aztecs started hating him for it, but it does seem probable.
There is an incident which happens in the main character's past (Thomas Wingfield), which leads to a murder. During the confusion and emotions, Thomas swears to get vengeance after his father curses him for his folly, which has to do with a rivalry with his brother over a girl. His father then regrets it, but Thomas still leaves. He chases the murderer, Juan de Garcia, to Spain. When he hears that Juan has gone to the West Indies, he gets passage on a ship. Through a series of misfortunes and close escapes, he winds up with the Aztecs. The story follows how the Spaniards attacked the Aztecs and how this empire ended, all the while Juan is trying to destroy Thomas before Thomas can destroy him.
Thomas is the main character who tells the story of when he was young. He also provides something for an Inquisition execution in which he also wants to get vengeance for that victim. He hates Juan even though he knows that he shouldn't and he regrets some of the things that he did. He also hates the Aztec customs of human sacrifice and is at one point able to stop it for a time. He does break a vow of betrothal to Lily and marries Otomie, Montezuma's daughter. While he has flaws he is still likable. Otomie loves Thomas and is willing to die with him even when she thinks that he doesn't like her. She is faithful to him, but never truly accepts the true God even though Thomas tries to teach her.
Then there is Juan who is driven by fear mostly and by hate in which he reveals at the end.
It was a good book with a satisfying ending and I would recommend it especially if you like historical fiction adventure books. Haggard is a great writer and I hope to read more of his books.