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The Jaguar Princess by Clare Bell
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The Jaguar Princess (original 1993; edition 1994)

by Clare Bell (Author)

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833145,226 (3.44)5
Member:dragonasbreath
Title:The Jaguar Princess
Authors:Clare Bell (Author)
Info:Tor (1994),
Collections:Your library, historical, Fiction
Rating:****
Tags:Prehistoria, Historical Fiction, Aztec, Olmec, Native American, AmerInd, Jaguar God

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The Jaguar Princess by Clare Bell (1993)

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Excellent fantasy set in a very different setting. Makes great use of historical tensions within Meso-America pre-conquest and within the city states of the Aztec empire.

The characters are richly developed and there are some very interesting tensions.

A great read for someone looking for a fantasy outside the norm. ( )
  crystalcarroll | Sep 2, 2012 |
Several years ago I checked this book out from my local library, read it, and returned it. Since then this book has haunted my dreams, yet when I went back to the library to check it out again it was not even recorded in the catalog. This is a fascinating read on a young girl with practically no choice in where her life is going, and who lives in a world controlled by warriors and a blood-thirsty god. The threat of death and punishment for mistakes is ever looming over the protagonist's head, and one cannot help but to root for her freedom. From the beginning of this book I had a strange sense of doom, and I worried constantly for the main character. Will she ever be free? Read it and find out. ( )
  laurenbethy | Jun 26, 2009 |
I picked this up at a used book store for a dollar because the cover attracted me. And it turned out to be one of the best shapeshifter novels I have ever read!

The Jaguar Princess melds shapeshifter fantasy with historical fiction set during the Aztec Empire. Mixcatl is a young girl stolen from her jungle village to become a slave in the capital city. Her artistic talents soon come to light and she becomes a scribe. But, she another talent even more rare. She is one of the jaguar people; descended from ancient rulers of this land. Will she be the one to free her people from the cruel Aztec king whose sacrifices grow more and more demanding?

I enjoyed the story so much because I immediately identified with the protagonist. She is spirited, intelligent and curious. One of my favorite scenes is at the beginning when, upon arriving in the city, she hears the rumor that if a slave touches the walls of the palace, they are freed. Naturally, she makes a run for it! She doesn't succeed, yet after she becomes a scribe she doesn't try again. The author shows that a person can change as they grow. Mixcatl has been indoctrinated to her new society - readying her to remain here and fulfill her destiny.

An exciting adventure, a great heroine and even a love story all work to make this a fantastic novel. There is a lot of humor, and very good character development. Though the actual shapeshifting doesn't occur until the end, the book is a real page turner. I would have loved a sequel. But, if you enjoy shapeshifter stories, or historical fiction, do yourself a favor and find a copy. ( )
1 vote jshillingford | Aug 19, 2008 |
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To my brother,
David Weston Steward,
kindred spirit and saver of cats,
fellow wayfarer on the long, strange journey.
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In the Aztec year Three Reed, in the age of the Earthquake Sun, a six-year-old girl named Mixcatl sat in a barge threading its way through the waterways of Tenochtitlan.
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    FROM SLAVE TO DEMIGOD

From the day young Mixcatl was stolen by slavery, she knew that she was special. Her people were descended form the ancient Olmec Jaguar gods, and her secret heritage destined her for a life of high striving ... and of danger. For like her ancestral gods Mixcatl could change, unexpectedly and with startling suddenness, into a living, wild jaguar.

fighting the violence inherent in her dual nature, Mixcatl sought only a way to live peacefully in the Aztec world. But fate had assigned her a much more difficult role. The Aztec rulers couldn't allow her live, leaving Mixcatl with a terrible choice: either be destroyed by the Aztec god's insatiable thirst for sacrifice, or somehow defy the bloody deity ...
    ---------------------------------

    BEFORE THE CONQUISTADORES

The Aztec Empire covered a vast expanse of land, annexing its neighbors and dominating its subjects with of the wrath of their God, Hummingbird-on-the-Left. Mixcatl, slave to Aztec priests since her youth, never questioned the orthodoxy of Aztec beliefs, but she was, by her very existence, a thorn in the Aztecs' side, representing a different religious tradition, a gentler, more ancient tradition.
Neither Mixcatl nor her Aztec masters suspected that she was about to foment a rebellion that would shake the foundations of the sacred temple itself.
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