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Aztec (Aztec #1)

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  12,638 Ratings  ·  650 Reviews
Aztec is the extraordinary story of the last and greatest native civilization of North America. Told in the words of one of the most robust and memorable characters in modern fiction, Mixtli-Dark Cloud, Aztec reveals the very depths of Aztec civilization from the peak and feather-banner splendor of the Aztec Capital of Tenochtitlan to the arrival of Hernán Cortes and his c ...more
Paperback, 754 pages
Published May 16th 2006 by Forge Books (first published 1980)
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Best Historical Fiction
98th out of 5,824 books — 22,267 voters
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A&M Historical Fiction Group Recommended Reading
28th out of 161 books — 412 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
May 28, 2012 mark monday rated it liked it
if a guilty pleasure can elevate itself to the level of transformative epic, and then come plummeting back down to farce and depravity, and then up again, and then down again, and around and around and around... then this is that novel. there are many things to enjoy. some enjoyments are guilt-free: the sense of wonder, the lavish details, the description of native civilizations - so many aspects of so many cultures, all so clearly well-researched and engagingly depicted. some enjoyments inspire ...more
Apr 12, 2010 Sparrow rated it did not like it
Did you ever wish that Boogie Nights was a book set in the time of the fall of the Aztec empire? No? Well, don't tell Gary Jennings that because I'm pretty sure it would hurt his feelings. It's not really something I would have thought you'd need to be specific about, but kids are so "creative" these days. This story isn't about Marky Mark’s penis or Montezuma's penis, either, because you might find that too predictable. It's about the penis of this other dude who is able to "visit" with exotic ...more
Feb 01, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
(this review from my website)
Whew! Man, it's been over two months since I've made any updates and this behemoth of a novel is to blame. As some of you may already be aware, I'm not all that keen on marathon reads.
Losing a month out of your life for something like Stephen King's Insomnia will do that to you.
It's for that reason that after buying Aztec it sat on my shelf for several months before deciding to venture into it.

Well, two months later I can look back on this as a time travel trip
Jul 24, 2011 Szplug rated it really liked it
Jennings was one hell of a storyteller: Raptor was a thrilling and transgressive post-Roman romp, and The Journeyer fleshed out the eastward travels and adventures of Marco Polo with an exotic embellishment, a sexy and spicy pomp; but Aztec was my introduction to his colorful and hot-blooded novels, and remains a fond favorite. Sure, this overlong confession given by a captured Aztec aristocrat to his monastic interlocutors in the aftermath of Great Montezuma's empire being flushed down the ...more
Linda C.
Jun 20, 2007 Linda C. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adults
Shelves: favorites
This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is simply the best single novel that I have ever read.

Nothing is superfluous.

There is human sacrifice galore as well as graphic (and I mean graphic) violence and sexuality. However, the drama is top notch and there are times when you must stop reading because you are overwhelmed by the spectacle of the story.

I gave this book as an impulse buy to my mother for Christmas one year. I had no idea what it was like, I simply went by some fabulous blurbs
This book was...quite a book. It's the story of the titularly Aztec guy named Mixtli (I guess they were actually called Mexica but somewhere along the way they picked up the name Aztec which derives from their mythological ancestral origin place Aztlan, I picked up like a thousand facts like this from this book and it hurt my brain) from his weird childhood to weird adulthood to weird old age. Along the way he extensively travels Mexico and gets involved in dozens of adventures and tragedies, mo ...more
Aug 01, 2013 Yann rated it did not like it

Ok, here is why the book isn't good and why you shouldn't read it.

Do not read it if you're actually interested in the Aztecs or if you know about the Aztec culture, because the "so well researched" historical facts are wrong. Just the way the sacrifices are depicted is wrong! How can you get that wrong!? The Aztecs didn't break and split the ribcage open to get to the heart, they went through the STOMACH to tear the heart out! If I had the book here with me I would quote
Dec 12, 2007 Allison rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
I finally realized, in this massive novel that goes nowhere, that the best analogy for this steaming pile is Forrest Gump. Oh, no, certainly not on the enjoyment factor, i like me the box o' chocolates, but in the implausibility of this no name individual (Head Nodder, Mixtli, whatever he is going by in that chapter in his life,) being so important in so many pieces of history, and all these gigantic events happening around him, just like Forrest.

Except, it's just about all bad things (squeamis
Aug 31, 2007 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: escapist
The Aztec series is my guilty pleasure. This first book in the series has 900-ish pages of lush, incredibly intricate, dramatic and absorbing detail about Aztec life up to the Conquistadors' arrival. Interspersed with porn. No wonder the Aztecs didn't die out--they worked very diligently to make more Aztecs. Says Gary Jennings. :)
Feb 21, 2012 Maxine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of epic stories, historical fiction, adventure
This was the first Gary Jennings book I ever read--and I was hooked forever! Jennings is one of my favorite authors and Aztec remains one of my top 5 all time great books.

Aztec is a compelling story, unusual in that it is told from the point of view of one of the vanquished, rather than by the conquerors. Mixtli is one of the most memorable characters in fiction. He's noble, he's honest, he sees his own faults and those of the society he's part of. Through his eyes we see not only the grandeur
Dec 10, 2010 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-favorites
This book is completely brilliant.

Let me assure you that yes, it is graphically violent and a tragedy from beginning to end. Perhaps only the last quarter or so involves the Spanish, so anyone who harbors any delusions about the "noble savage" will be greatly disappointed. I myself am not particularly prone to those sorts of romanticizations. Be that as it may, to some degree I can understand the notion of human sacrifice far better than I can understand the actions of the Spanish. I don't cond
Austin Briggs
Jul 26, 2011 Austin Briggs rated it it was amazing
This book may change you. At the very least, it’ll excite your imagination and insult your senses. Full of lust for life, written "in the field" in Mexico, the book is polarizing, and has drawn both admiration and outright disgust from a few generations of readers.

It was the very first book I found when doing the competitive market research for my own writing about 10 years ago. Back then, I wanted to write a novel called “The Aztec”.

Imagine the depths of my emotion when I found an immensely suc
Aug 06, 2007 Casey rated it it was amazing
I'd recommend this book to anyone who like historical fictions, or intense fictions in general. I read it for the first time seven years ago, and it still is one of the most memorable books I've read. Jennings' writing is raw and unforgiving; he has an in-your-face style that can make you cringe, feel heavy hearted, and give you an unbelievable adrenaline rush during any given scene. I'm surprised to see that other readers gave his follow up books to this slightly higher ratings; for me, Aztec w ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Isabella rated it it was amazing
This book is a Historical Fiction masterpiece.
It’s cruel and raw, adventurous and passionate, at times even perverse, and in the end heart breaking.
It is the story of the Aztec civilization and its conquest by the Spaniards.
This book has blood in it, cruelty, sexuality, freaks, incest, war, struggle, a lost love, and an unfulfilled one…
What more could you ask?
Noah Coad
May 22, 2011 Noah Coad rated it it was amazing
Shelves: entertainment
One of the most eye opening, intense, and enjoyable books I've ever read. Recommended to me by my grandmother, a devout conservative catholic, I was almost shocked she'd read such an intense book (go grandma!). Gary Jennings spent over a decade researching the Aztec culture and created this non-fiction based fictional story about a culture so incredible different from our own, and yet even more cultured in some ways. The story follows an Aztec man who's captured by the Spanish Inquisition and re ...more
Apr 29, 2016 Ms.pegasus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Mexico
Shelves: fiction, history
Jennings' lengthy novel is structured as a tragedy. The main character is a civilization, the tragedy is its inevitable destruction. Its life was governed, however brutal or unfair, by codes of behavior and ritual that promised stability and continuity. This was The One World. Its heart was the plaza of Tenochtitlan; its pulse was a cycle marked by the passage of the sun across the sky, the passage of months from spring planting to spring planting, the passage of 52 years in the cycle of life wh ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Carlos rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gennings hizo mucha investigacón antes de escribir. Es agradable ver el mundo azteca de nuevo con sus costumbres, olores y sabores. Gennings como de costumbre se explaya en descripciones detalladas de escenas de un contenido francamente erótico. Tambien son prolíficas sus descripciones de crueldad y ritos sangrientos. No apto para estómagos sensibles.
Erin M.
Jul 09, 2010 Erin M. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Detailed, Epic, Historical Fiction
Recommended to Erin M. by: Self
When I first picked up this book, I was skeptical. The first few pages move fairly slowly and are written as letters in the dry and formal archaic style one would expect from a subject writing to his king. There is also a fair sprinkling of long and unfamiliar words in the Nahua tongue, the primary language spoken by Aztecs, but once one gets the feel for the words and the way they might have sounded, the difficulty with them lessens.

The story is set in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth ce
Apr 03, 2011 Tracey rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historical fiction buffs with a stomach of steel
Recommended to Tracey by: local bookseller who knew the author
My GOD this man could write. He's from my hometown, and lived not so far away from my house, and I could never arrange a meeting while (and being I'm not a stalker and respected the crap out of this guy, I didn't try too hard). A complete enigma to me; massive genius. I might have been scared to meet him, in fact — loved his writings, but they were so graphic that I believe I feared meeting someone who could imagine such brutality.

I love historical fiction, and Jennings' works tackle times that
Dec 13, 2012 Lasiter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Qué libro tan bueno!, es una historia bien contada, con personajes creíbles y una visión interesante de ese mundo que se perdió. Y es que la novela no solo trata sobre los últimos años del mundo Azteca, es mas una mirada sobre el mundo precolombino en Centroamérica y parte de Norteamérica.

Me gusta el equilibrio que maneja en el sentido de no andar exaltando ni denigrando el mundo precolombino, casi que se limita a describirlo. No sé que tan cerca está de la realidad histórica, pero después de l
Jun 28, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students of New World history
Sometimes a book is in your stars, you are fated to read it. I had this book for years, carted it around the world, but never could get beyond the first page. Threw it out several times but always picked it out of the trash, tried to sell it at garage sales, my wife threw it out...rescued again. Then one day I picked it up and started reading. And never put it away until I finished. It is a game-changing book, opening you to a world that you simply never knew existed. It isn't so much the story ...more
Jan 22, 2008 Nathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc-fiction
8 months later . . . I'm finally finished! At over 1,000 pages this book was a marathon, and I'm glad to be done with it. I read it in hundred page spurts and sometimes wouldn't touch it for a month or so, so that's why it took so long. The most valuable part of this book for me was learning about the history of Mexico and Central America before the Spaniards and during the conquest. The book also does tell a good story and follows it's protagonist through ups and downs and fascinating journeys ...more
Jan 13, 2016 Joseph rated it really liked it
Epic and picaresque and tragic. This is the story of Mixtli Dark Cloud, born sometime in the latter part of the 15th Century, whose tonalí leads him from his father's stone quarry to Tenochtitlan in the heart of the Aztec empire, and all up and down from the Mayan jungles in the south to the trackless deserts of the north, driven ever by his need to know and explore (and by Jennings' need to insert him, Forrest Gump-like, into many of the seminal events in the twilight years of the The One World ...more
Mar 22, 2014 Angie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Recommended to Angie by: my mother in law
I read this for the first time about 18 years ago and I knew that one day I'd reread it. I'm not sorry that I did. Its a very long and violent book were an old Aztec man is being interrogated for his life history by some Spanish monks. And what a history he tells them. It took me a while to read as I couldn't pronounce the Aztec names and place words, but it was well worth making the effort to try.

I loved the full life that's described, and all the different things theatre described, from povert
Jan 12, 2015 Nate rated it really liked it
An epic historical novel in the Michener/Clavell tradition, Aztec delivers the goods, transporting the reader to a fascinating world, sadly lost to European conquest. While I'm usually reluctant to read first-person narratives, Jennings' Mixtli had me from the first page, and the novel never dragged.

I have to point out that the misogyny in the novel is ridiculous. Every evil that occurs--from the trivial to the epic--is the result of some devious woman, and yet the narrator never contemplates h
Dec 28, 2012 Iceman rated it it was amazing
Gary Jennings, autor reconhecido em todo o mundo como um dos melhores autores do género romance histórico, era um homem muito erudito que levava a cabo intensas e rigorosas pesquisas antes de escrever os seus livros.

Falecido em 1999, Jennings deixou ao mundo um conjunto de obras aclamadas pela crítica, entre as quais “Asteca” que comporta as obras, em Portugal, “Orgulho Asteca” e “Sangue Asteca”, dois volumes.

Fascinado pelos Astecas, Gary viveu durante 12 anos no México. Aprendeu espanhol antigo
May 21, 2007 Artie added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
A great book that gives us great insight into the world of Aztec's and other tribes that inhabited Mexico just prior to the Spanish coming and when they first got here.
It really makes you feel like you have walked in another world that once was. It does not really come from any point of view that is trying to influence the way you feel about the history. You are able to appreciate the Aztec way of life, while also being shocked at times by their ways and realizing that it was an empire that wa
Regina Lindsey
Aztec by Gary Jennings
5 Stars

Bishop Juan de Zumarraga has been tasked by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to document accurate accounts of Aztec life and culture. Mixtli has been selected to provide his life's account. Mitli, among other professions, has been a scribe and has documented both events and topography of the region. Mixtli's life has witnessed great triumphs and experienced significant blows. Yet, he is exceptionally adept at providing a descriptive history of the Aztec people and th
May 07, 2010 Itzel rated it it was amazing
The best novel ever written!!!

Not only does Jenning's portray an outstanding cultural image of the Aztec empire but he also does a great job at making each one of the characters individual to the story line. Mixtli of many names takes us through each chapter of his life filled with excitement but unfortunate and disatrous events as well. I fully enjoyed this book and as I got closer and closer to the ending I prayed the book would extend to a never ending novel full of thrilling adventures.
Jacob O'connor
Oct 23, 2013 Jacob O'connor rated it it was amazing
This is as good as literature gets. I'm very grateful to Bill Friedrich for turning me on to this book. Gary Jennings is brutal though . He broke my heart with the way he treats some of his characters.
Reading this as a Christian made it even more thought provoking. I was often alarmed and repulsed by the actions of the Mexica, yet Jennings portrays the Church as the most monstrous of all.

In the end, this is one of the best-told stories I've ever read. I'll be thinking about ths one for a long t
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Gary Jennings led a paradoxically picaresque life. On one hand, he was a man of acknowledged intellect and erudition. His novels were international best sellers, praised around the world for their stylish prose, lively wit and adventurously bawdy spirit. They were also massive - often topping 500,000 words - and widely acclaimed for the years of research he put into each one, both in libraries and ...more
More about Gary Jennings...

Other Books in the Series

Aztec (5 books)
  • Aztec Autumn (Aztec, #2)
  • Aztec Blood (Aztec, #3)
  • Aztec Rage (Aztec, #4)
  • Aztec Fire (Aztec, #5)

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“Of all that I have possessed in my life, my memories are the only things remaining to me. Indeed, I believe that memories are the only real treasure any human can hope to hold always.” 62 likes
“Mis señores, yo no estoy hecho de piedra. Sólo soy un hombre y un hombre es el más frágil de los monumentos” 3 likes
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