Five Dances with Death: Dance One by author Austin Briggs is a fictional account of the Aztec people of Central America and the Spanish Conquest that began in the early 1500s. It is the story of Angry Wasp, the military leader of the Tlaxcalteca tribe. Angry Wasp has two missions: to protect his people from on-going battles with the powerful Mexica people and to find his daughter, Dew, who was enslaved by one of his powerful enemies. This is a beautifully written depiction of the rituals and beliefs of the Aztec Empire (called One World in the book) and an introduction to the impact the Spanish had on the future of the region.
Angry Wasp was named after his father, a member of the Tlaxcalteca council, whose temperament the young leader inherited along with the name. While Angry Wasp’s tribe is on hiatus from the seasonal wars they waged against opposing tribes to protect their villages, he is being trained to create his spiritual double by his wife, Broken Plume. Plume is a sorcerer from the Otomis tribe who has the ability to navigate the underworld. The purpose of Angry Wasp’s training is to discover where his daughter, Dew, is being held captive. Dew was taken from her mother’s village and enslaved by Angry Wasp’s chief rival, Talon, of the Mexica people. Talon’s refusal to reveal the whereabouts of Dew drives Angry Wasp to deepen his practice in the dark arts.
While on the search for his daughter, Angry Wasp discovers that his spiritual double can access the strangers who came to One World in large ships with guns and cannons. Angry Wasp’s forays into the underworld bring him near death frequently. Each encounter with the outlanders informs Angry Wasp’s decisions for keeping his people safe from harm.
Briggs is a wonderful storyteller. Angry Wasp’s tale is filled with vivid details about cultural mores and offers great insight into the relationships among the tribes of the Aztec Empire. The author does an amazing job of weaving research into the storyline in a way that does not distract from the flow of the book. Briggs’ fully formed, passionate, and animated characters draw readers into the Central America of the 1500s as if they are present in Angry Wasp’s village living among the Tlaxcalteca people.
Five Dances with Death: Dance One puts flesh on the historical bones of the Aztec people. I highly recommend it .
About the Author
Melissa Brown Levine for Independent Professional Book Reviewers
Melissa Brown Levine’s work has appeared in the following publications: Skirt Magazine, Foreword Reviews, Work.com, Midwest Book Review, The Martini Lounge, and a recent anthology edited by Zane. As a freelance writer, her work has included book reviewing, ghostwriting, manuscript critiquing, and SEO content writing. Levine has also had experience editing fiction and non-fiction book length manuscripts, cover letters, and synopses.
Her academic background includes a Master’s in Professional Writing from Chatham University as well as advanced degrees in Library and Information Science and Counseling.
Levine’s latest work is an ebook entitled, I Need to Make Promises: A Novella and Stories now available on Amazon.