Book Quote:

“ In this world, your clothes were your passport, and a gang of javelinmen helped steer us through the plebes. Members only, I thought. We edged past knots of people. By now I could pick out clans and nationalities by their clothes and body mods, and, as a bonus, Chacal’s set of mainly disdainful status associations kicked in automatically: For instance, the orange sort of saris those short, dusty people were wearing meant they were Cacaxtlans, and over there, those tall wiry domeheads with—damn, I’m using derogatories, which was good manners here but bad, bad bad in Century 21—those wiry individuals with the precancerous sun-cracked skin were Chanacu, proto-Mixtecs, from the mountains around Zempoaltépetl. The roped together gang of tall ectomorphs with the fresh scabs and penitential sandbags tied to their ankles weren’t slaves but Yaxacans, people from the far northwest of the valley, expiating a black debt. That line of tiny, pale, furtive nearly naked characters with the big lip plugs and clay-caked bowl cuts had come from the far, far south, maybe even from Costa Rica, and sold little frogs and insects made of hammered gold, which was still a huge novelty in these parts. ”

Book Review:

Review by Ann Wilkes (DEC 12, 2009)

The world-building in this speculative fiction novel set on Earth is staggering. Over half the book takes place in Guatemala and Central Mexico at the height of the Mayan empire. The detail D’Amato puts into the pageantry, customs, sights, sounds, smells and tastes truly transport the reader to a seemingly alien world. The story is told by a Mayan descendent with his share of neuroses, gifts and curses. The first person, conversational narration was fresh and often humorous.

In 2012, a multi-national conglomerate, the Warren Group, sends a copy of Jed’s consciousness back to 664 AD to learn how to play the Mayan Sacrifice Game with nine stones or runners which would give them much more information than his three-stone game. D’Amato describes the Game as a Parchessi-like, more complex than chess or go, with number crunching and intuition. In the right hands, it is capable of prognostication with frightening accuracy. When Jed goes back in time, the game takes on a more fantastical aspect that is hard to follow.

The Warren Group has a Mayan Codex from the seventh century AD that predicts what may be global, catastrophic events in 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar. Foreknowledge may help the company, and whatever world leaders they choose to include, to prevent global terrorist attacks. A devastating attack at Disneyworld turns things desperate.

“On CNN they were saying that the Disney World Horror—as they were apparently now calling it—was officially a Mass Casualty Incident. Like, glad they got that straight. Drudge’s links were saying that judging from medical radio reports the death cloud, whatever it was, hadn’t been just in the Magic Kingdom but had affected an area extending south to Lake Tohopekaliga and west at least as far as downtown Orlando, with a long plume angling northwest at least to Lake Harris. Symptom clusters had been reported a lot farther out than that, but since people had moved around in the day or so since their exposure, it wasn’t clear exactly how far the cloud had carried.”

The book begins with Jed2 (Jed’s duplicate consciousness) finding himself in AD 664 as planned, but in the wrong body. Instead of being in the head of a Mayan king, he’s in the body of a man about to sacrifice himself. Jed2 struggles to stop the still aware man he’s inhabiting from throwing himself down the pyramid’s jagged stairs created for just that purpose.

Between his pessimistic, irreverent inner dialog and his immediate plight, I was hooked. The irreverence did get a bit extreme at times, causing me to skim ahead. The action and descriptions are compelling, but often graphically violent. I rooted for the underdog protagonist throughout. The ending made me angry, but at least I wasn’t indifferent. D’Amato did succeed in stirring my emotions.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 39 readers
PUBLISHER: NAL Trade (November 3, 2009)
REVIEWER: Ann Wilkes
AMAZON PAGE: In the Courts of the Sun
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: More that you might like:

The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

Empire of Humiliation by James Jens Broussea

Turing’s Delirium by Edmundo Paz Soldan


Sacrifice Game Trilogy:

December 11, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Latin America, Latin American/Caribbean, Mexico, Scifi, Speculative (Beyond Reality)

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