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Demon of the Air (2004)

by Simon Levack

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1233219,366 (3.33)10
Mexico-Tenochtitlan, in the year Twelve-House: the vast, teeming city of the Aztecs at the height of its glory. As the novel opens, the Chief Minister's trusted slave Yaotl is escorting a sacrificial victim up the steps of the Great Pyramid to celebrate the Festival of the Raising of Banners. Used to the bloodstained rites of the War-God's priests, Yaotl is unperturbed at the ritual slaughter of the so-called Flowery Death. When the victim runs amok and leaps to his death before he can be sacrificed, Yaotl's only worry is how to explain it to his master. But when more bodies start to appear and the Emperor Montezuma starts asking questions about the sorcerers who have vanished from his impregnable prison, Yaotl realises he needs answers soon. The secrets he uncovers will unlock nightmares from his own youth and threaten the future of everything he knows.… (more)
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Demon of the Air is a reasonable yet not outstanding mystery novel, the only thing really separating it from a rather crowded field is the setting which is Aztec Mexico, in 1517. As far as fiction books set in this period, I vastly preferred Gary Jenning's Aztec, Demon of the Air has reduced out as much of the 'foreign' language as possible which makes for an easy reading experience, but also takes away some of the exoticness also.

Overall, it's not a terrible book, but nor is it in anyway outstanding, if not for the setting I would say it were average, with it's setting it's atmospheric and does mostly cover the at times dull unfolding of the plot. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Mar 25, 2020 |
I loved this book. I am a huge fan of ancient history and I am interested in the Aztecs. Its a wonderful combination for me.

I liked the writing, the characters and the setting. I really felt I was back in the Aztec empire. I loved the main character, and his various troubles. I thought he did a good job with the authenticity, and interpretation of Aztec culture and history.

I enjoyed the mystery and will continue with the series. ( )
  FicusFan | Dec 21, 2008 |
Rating: 3.25* of five

The Publisher Says: Mexico-Tenochtitlan, in the year Twelve-House: the vast, teeming city of the Aztecs at the height of its glory. sacrificial victim up the steps of the Great Pyramid to celebrate the Festival of the Raising of Banners. at the ritual slaughter of the so-called Flowery Death. Yaotl's only worry is how to explain it to his master. questions about the sorcerers who have vanished from his impregnable prison, Yaotl realises he needs answers soon. threaten the future of everything he knows.

My Review: I felt transported to pre-Conquest Tenochtitlan. The main character is a very complex and involving man, and it's fun to get to know him. The world he inhabits is deeply interesting and drawn in careful, artlessly presented detail. Levack should give lessons in world-building to most historical novelists, since evreything I learned was tied to character development not to mere didacticism.

The mystery itself was not as wonderful as the storytelling that got us to the end. It's predictable, and I can't say that I as a queer man appreciated the villain's queerness being presented as a source of his villainy. It's accurate to the times and the culture, of course, and there's nothing that suggests it's gratuitous except that one really didn't need any information about sexual orientation to make the mystery make sense.

A flaw, and a serious one at that. It feels like the author could be venting some personal animus in this characterization, though I have no evidence of this and can't support it with anything aside from my own feelings. An entire star taken off my personal rating. But withal, the author's abilities are such that I have all the books in the series lined up on the night-table ready to be read.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ( )
  richardderus | Jul 11, 2007 |
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Mexico-Tenochtitlan, in the year Twelve-House: the vast, teeming city of the Aztecs at the height of its glory. As the novel opens, the Chief Minister's trusted slave Yaotl is escorting a sacrificial victim up the steps of the Great Pyramid to celebrate the Festival of the Raising of Banners. Used to the bloodstained rites of the War-God's priests, Yaotl is unperturbed at the ritual slaughter of the so-called Flowery Death. When the victim runs amok and leaps to his death before he can be sacrificed, Yaotl's only worry is how to explain it to his master. But when more bodies start to appear and the Emperor Montezuma starts asking questions about the sorcerers who have vanished from his impregnable prison, Yaotl realises he needs answers soon. The secrets he uncovers will unlock nightmares from his own youth and threaten the future of everything he knows.

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