A mystery story. With magic. In the pre-conquistador Aztec empire.
A gripping read, save the mental gymnastics stumbling over the sounds of the names. A fun, wild ride through a less-populated culture who usually villainish (see: anything Aztecish in film or genre).
There’s history, magic and insight into culture, and there’s unfamiliar territory and some clarity around blood sacrifice.
There’s love and there’s lust and there’s a revenger’s tragedy buried in the mystery, and there’s a critical period of history.
I think I personally prefer de Bodard’s later short fiction, but I’m willing and interested to read more of these.