Monday, March 15, 2010

The Goldsmith's Daughter-- Tanya Landman

Maybe it's leftover from my childhood, but I am still drawn to stories of ancient times... you know ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Mayans...

The Goldsmith's Daughter is a tale of the Aztecs, during the time when the Spanish begin their conquering. Itacate was born to a wealthy craftman father and a peasant mother. Her mother died giving birth to Itacate and her twin brother, and it was believed that Itacate was born cursed because she appeared to be dead when born, then miraculously started to breathe. Over the years, no sign of the prophesied curse emerged, and Itacate began to secretly assist her goldsmith father with his work. Her talent was noticed by the great emperor Montezuma, which frightened Itacate because goldsmithing was forbidden to women. Montezuma commissioned two statues of the gods, and Itacate deeply connected with the art and spirituality of her task. Her work was prominently displayed at the temples, but credited to her father.

But just as Itacate felt her life started to have meaning, the Spaniards invade her city and all that she had worked for was lost. Montezuma allowed the Spanish to move right into the palace, and to influence his decisions. And when a Spanish goldsmith wins her love, Itacate must learn how to survive in a completely different world than she has ever known.

This books was written in simple, straightforward language. The author admits in a note at the end, that she twists some aspects of history to make her story work. I found this book to be an easy read, not super compelling, but the plot moved well enough to hold my interest. I also think there aren't many similar books to this one (meaning based on the Aztecs), and it's nice to have a book like this to offer to teens who want historical fiction about ancient civilizations.

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