October 2022 Review: Romance and Magic in Mesoamerica
The Seventh Sun
Author: Lani Forbes
Published by: Blackstone Publishing
There are so many reasons to pick up this book.
Here’s why I did…
When a book wins three Realm Awards in the same year, I pick it up. No questions asked.
When the author has such kindness and humility as she signs your book copy, I promise to read it.
When the author loses their battle with cancer a few months later, I finally grab it off the shelf and start. No other book was going to get touched until I’d read this one.
Life happened, and I didn’t really get time to read until recently. Once I did, I couldn’t put this book down. The world. The magic. The relationships. This story is so well written. Forbes’ fascination with Mesoamerican culture has led to one of the most unique fantasy books I have ever read.
Mayana, princess of Atl and descendant of goddess of water Atlacoya, has the power to manipulate water. All it requires a small prick, the tiniest sacrifice of her demi-god blood, and she is capable of incredible magic. Such is the reality for all the noble families, each descended from gods or goddesses, giving them amazing powers over the elements and life.
When the emperor dies, prince Ahkin must choose the future empress and marry before the kingdom finds itself in another apocalypse and his power to raise the sun each morning is gone. Each city-state sends their best princess to be tested and considered for the royal matchup. For one, it means a new life as empress. For the rest, it means being sacrificed to the gods to bless the marriage. For Mayana, who struggles to believe that the animal and human sacrifices are even what the gods want, it means a crisis of faith.
Will she play the part and win the prince’s approval? Or will she be honest with herself and others about what she feels loving gods would actually want from their people?
While I’m not usually for romantic stories (just not my jam), the romance in this book takes second fiddle to the battles waging inside Mayana and Ahkin. Neither feels ready for the task in front of them. Both feel the weight of expectation upon their shoulders.
One thing I love about this book is that, despite the setting in the pagan Aztec-ish culture, Forbes’ own faith and trust in a loving God shines through the story. Mayana’s journey of discovery was refreshingly unexpected, while staying true to the obvious research about the culture that the author has done.
There are characters you will love.
There are characters you will pity.
There are characters you will genuinely despise.
I never imagined I could empathize with a group of Mesoamerican royalty, but I could feel the humanity of the characters. Lani Forbes was, indeed, a fine author.
And it wasn’t all romance. Mystery. Danger. And a couple well written fight scenes kept this guy fully engaged in the story.
This book is a clean read, though I would not recommend it for younger teens. Topics such as human sacrifice, desire, and murder are very much part of this story. Forbes is masterful in her ability to touch on the topics without diving into the details. The romance in the story is clean, though there are scenes of physical affection. However, these stay within limits with a character even making the point that certain behaviors are reserved for marriage despite the couple’s desire to go further.
Violence is present, but never gory. (Fight scenes, remember?) No language. No sex, though it is discussed and falsely accused.
Faith is a huge part of the storyline. The characters serve and even descend from gods and goddess, sacrificing animals to their pantheon. Human sacrifices are even discussed. However, under it all, it is clear that Forbes’ own view of God has shaped the storyline. I loved this aspect of the book, which respected both the culture on which the book was based and the author’s own faith. Again, younger readers might not be able to distinguish the two, but older teens and adults will have no problem.
The book will leave you hungry to grab the second to continue the journey. Good thing the entire trilogy is in print and in audiobook.
I only wish that Lani Forbes could still be around to grace us with more engaging and fantastical stories. I do believe I heard she had one more manuscript finished that may also end up getting published.
On another note: purchasing this trilogy also supports the husband and children Forbes left behind as the royalties will continue to go to them. Please consider grabbing a copy of this trilogy. The covers are beautiful. The story is amazing. The cause is worth it.
Available on Amazon or through your local bookseller (support local business when you can!).
No disclaimer. I did not receive anything from the author, nor was I requested to write this review.