The Goldsmith’s Daughter by Tanya Landman
A girl born under an ill-fated sky, Itacate is destined to a lifetime of submission and domestic drudgery. But she has a secret passion, one which she can tell no one for fear of death. When she falls in love with a Spanish invader and her secret is endangered, Itacate must fight for her life. Can she defy the gods and escape her destiny?
A while ago I reviewed Apache also written by Tanya Landman and fell in love with it so much that I asked for The Goldsmith’s Daughter for Christmas. It wasn’t just the beautiful cover that attracted me to it, but the period in which it is set. Itacate is a girl born in the time of the Aztecs and it is such an incredible and interesting period in history that it drew me in right away. This is the first novel I have ever read set in this period and I learnt so much from it.
Landman’s writing is just as fluid, lyrical and beautiful as it is in Apache, and the story once again follows a strong-minded woman in a time that is very much ruled by men, in particular Moctezuma II, ruler of the city of Tenochtitlan. Itacate is born before dawn and with this comes a terrible prophecy that she is destined to have a dismal future – that nothing good will come of her life. Whilst her brother is destined to do great things. Itacate’s duties involve the cooking and the cleaning and looking after the men in her family. Until one day when she discovers that she has a talent for making beautiful things out of gold, just like her father, the goldsmith. From this spins a whole web of events which involve the entire city. To make matters worse, her talent becomes a real danger when the Spaniards invade Tenochtitlan, turning Itacate’s world upside down when she falls in love with one of them!
I never learnt anything about the Aztecs in school which I think is a real shame because it really is a very interesting period. Moctezuma is a very feared ruler throughout the city – no one is permitted to even look at him. But he is portrayed as weak and pittiful when the Spaniards invade – letting them take control over the city and ruin everything that was considered sacred to its people. I never knew that the Aztecs believed in so many gods or that they feared that the sun would not rise every morning and drew blood from their bodies every day to insure its arrival.
Landman truely brought this civilization to life in her writing and if it is something you are interested in then you should definitely pick up this book! The novel has been written for teens and I think it’s an excellent way for the younger generation to learn more about the Aztecs!
I became inspired by it so much that during a recent trip to London, I visited the Aztec exhibition at the British Museum and it made everything feel so much more real. I was in awe of everything that was still left intact after all this time. It is a brilliant exhibition so do check it out! I even bought a book about it in the gift shop! Here are a couple of my photos:
My rating: ****
Have you read The Goldsmith’s Daughter?
Do you know any other books about Aztecs?
Have you read anything else by Tanya Landman?