Book Review: The Serpent and the Eagle by Edward Rickford

November 30, 2020

The Serpent and the Eagle by Edward Rickford is the first book in the Tenochtitlan Trilogy, taking place during Hernán Cortés’ 1519 military campaign in the New World. Mr. Rickford is an award winning writer, this book won the 2018 Chaucer Book Awards.

  • 306 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1735131903
  • Publisher : Black Acorn Literary Press
  • Language : English

Book Review: The Serpent and the Eagle by Edward Rickford
My rat­ing for The Serpent and the Eagle5
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More Books by Edward Rickford*

I always enjoy good historical fiction, especially if it follows history closely. That way I can learn something as well as be entertained, I believe that this is why the majority of us enjoy the genre.

In The Serpent and the Eagle by Edward Rickford, it’s clear that the author has done a vast amount of research about the time period. Mr. Rickford’s descriptions are realistic and vivid, staying true to the facts while delivering an excellent narrative. The details in the novel are fantastic, from the way the Spaniards stank, the difficulties of living off the land, to the Aztecs rituals (including a play by play description of human sacrifice a la the fantastic Apocalypto), weaving in the political climate of the times in both the New and Old worlds.

The author uses three characters to give the reader different perspectives of the story. Father Gerónimo de Aguilar was a slave for the Indians until rescued by Cortés. Aguilar now works mainly as a translator. That is until Malintze, a young Indian girl joins the army, who has a gift for languages. Malintze is fueled by revenge and willingly helps the “pale people” defeat the Mexica who wronged her.

Vitale is a New Christian and through his eyes we get to see the world from the level of a grunt, one of the nameless souls who history will never remember. As a New Christian, Vitale still experiences denigration and humiliation in Spain, he is attempting to make a new life thinking he joined a trade expedition. Vitale connects with Solomon, a Muslim slave who figures out quickly that Vitale is hiding his Jewish heritage.

The mastery of daily life for all the characters, intertwined with the overall overarching story-line works very well. As we all know, the little things matter to our everyday life, reading about the uncomfortable existence in a new land, the itching clothes, mosquitoes, horrible hygiene, and personality conflicts did a lot more for the enjoyment of this book than a play-by-play of the battles would have been.

The novel could have used the touch of a professional editor, however it was still an excellent read, taking its time to build a narrative and to let the reader get acquainted with the characters. Mr. Rickford sticks to historical evidence, does not present myths, rumors, or innuendos as facts, as far as I could tell.

Hernán Cortés arrives at the New World search for fame and fortune. In a short time Cortés realizes that the gold is at Tenochtitlan, one of the largest cities in the country. The explorer and his men face many challenges, from unfamiliar languages and culture, to the harsh environmental conditions.

In Tenochtitlan, the Great Speaker Motecuhzoma (Montezuma) of the Triple Alliance fears the Spaniards superior weapons. Motecuhzoma needs to decide if he wants to go to war with the “sorcerers” or create an alliance.

Buy The Serpent and the Eagle*
More Books by Edward Rickford*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free
*Ama­zon links point to an affiliate account

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