Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Fall of the Empire by Zoe Saadia

Having just been advanced into the ranks of the first-class traders, Etl thought his life could not get any better. He was a trader of the Tepanec Empire, living in the Great Capital itself. Yes, there had been a war, an outright revolt by the united tributaries and other subdued nations of his beloved city-state, but those would be squashed easily. The Tepanecs were always victorious. The only thing that made him worry was the decision of Tlalli, the girl from the marketplace he liked, to sell herself into the Palace's services. He didn't want her to do that, having intended to take care of her himself, but the stubborn, pretty thing went on and did it all the same. Why? Apparently, Tlalli was not just a simple market girl, but a young woman with a very unusual agenda. She had her own grudge to settle, and with no lesser person than the Emperor himself. But then the enemies struck...

I love historical fiction novels that sweep me into different eras and cultures to re-live and experience life as it was back then. Zoe Saadia’s novel, The Fall of the Empire does that just. It is set in the 12th to 13th century during the Tepanec Empire in what we know as Mexico today. Slaves, warriors, traders, and emperors abound in a tale of love, survival, and revenge. At the heart of the story are Etl, a trader who overhears a band of soldiers planning to overthrow the emperor, and young Tlalli, whose family was murdered by the same emperor and has voluntarily become a slave to kill the man. The two characters separate courses entwine, a partial love story, partial tale of salvation. But this is no formula romance, so don’t expect the usual ending. Rather, the author has provided two endings to the story, which I thought was brilliant, so the author can choose for themselves how they prefer the story to end. Very ingenious indeed. 

Lovely prose, a steady pace, and colorful descriptions of the ancient culture decorate each page. A great tale to cozy up to. Definitely recommended!