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Monday, April 28, 2014

Just Finished Reading: Aztec Century by Christopher Evans (FP: 1993)

Almost three years after the unprovoked attack on the British Isles by the Aztec Empire, Princess Catherine, her sister and husband are still in hiding in a remote part of unoccupied rural Wales. Finally making contact with her elder sister, wife to the Russian Czar, they plan their escape and dream of returning with an army to evict their invaders. Betrayed at the last minute the royal sisters fall into the hands of Aztec soldiers and are taken to the still partially destroyed capital where Extepan, son of the great Aztec leader in Mexico, rules over a quiet population. Refusing to co-operate in any way at first, Catherine is slowly forced to compromise her position first to aid British rebels and then to aid her people in more practical ways. Convinced that some of the horror stories surrounding their occupiers are true Catherine begins to dig into what is really going on in her own country, on the Russian battlefields and finally in Mexico itself. But nothing can prepare her for what she finally discovers – that other Earth’s exist and that the Aztec Empire dreams of conquering them too!

To begin with I found this book rather strange, indeed a little off-putting. For one thing it took place in the modern day (well, 1993-1996) where for some reason I expected it to be set in the 19th century. Another thing was the rather bizarre way that things seemed normal – but with a twist. Little was directly explained and the reader was presented with clues, passing comments and other titbits that could be used to piece together the history of this strange little world. All in all it was very well done, vivid with good characterisation, intriguing, disturbing and honestly, at the end, quite spooky – and not in a good way! It was, in a way, all too credible and very well thought out. The double dislocation in the final section was particularly well handled and was more than a little disorientating – actually it was a bit of a head fuck if truth be known. The end stayed with me for a week or more after I finished the book which is quite rare these days. Sinister yet very credible and a hell of a page turner. This reads like a nightmare you can’t quite escape – and does have a pronounced dream-like quality at times – and will definitely keep you turning pages. Highly recommended if you can get a copy.

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