Posted by: Johan Normark | October 27, 2009

Same same but different Maya novel

In two earlier posts I have mentioned my unpublished novel The Heart of Time (which have to be reworked before I ever send it to a publisher). Today I got an email from the author (David L. Smith) of a newly published novel called Jaguar Rising. Here is the teaser of the book (

K’akich Balam, “Fire-Eyes Jaguar,” is caught in a tug-of-war. Raised the son of a long distance merchant who is away from home for long periods, he expects to follow the path of his uncles in the building arts. On the doorstep to manhood, K’akich Balam discovers that he has inherited royal blood. And the prophecy given at his birth requires him to prepare for a life of privilege — possibly to rule. Although they are at odds with one another, his overbearing father, Thunder-Flute Rabbit, and his spiritual teacher, White Grandfather, guide him toward the throne. They say a man cannot resist what is in his blood; neither can he refuse to walk the path the ancestors laid out for him. Encounters with men and women at every level of society combine with altered-state experiences, initiation rites, battles, shamanic rituals and painting commissions to carry K’akich to the inevitable like a canoe on a fast-moving stream. or can he follow his heart? Can he choose both? Can he choose at all? B.C. “

Does he have a choice? Must he choose the path of his blood or can he follow his heart? Can he choose both? Can he choose at all?

The story is set in jungles of Belize and Guatemala around 35 B.C.”

Compare this with the teaser of my novel and there are obvious similarities. The main character is a person with royal connections, there are prophecies, spiritual teachers, altered state-experiences, etc. My novel and his are almost 700 years apart. It seems that Jaguar Rising mainly is based on Classic, Postclassic and early Colonial sources which then are projected backwards to the Late Formative period of which we know considerably less. I do not know if this is a good book or not. I will probably never have time to read it but if someone does read it, let me know what you think. I enjoy historical fiction like this but I just do not seem to get the time to read them anymore. Anyway, I guess there is a limited amount of topics that would interest a possible reader (at least that is the assumption). Hence, all the “Maya novels” that I have seen are similar. My novel, however, takes an artifact’s perspective and I should probably emphasize that thread of the novel.



  1. Your novel will be better.
    This is off the subject, but I have a chac mool question. They are mysterious posed figures. Look at this Esquintla pottery:
    It looks exactly like a chac mool getting up!
    Don’t you think that chac mool statues are these ball players? The posture is similar. The ‘plate’ on their belly could be that ballplayer protection plate. This figurine even has a plate attached.
    Or am I just being stupid? (no, don’t answer that)

  2. I am not an expert on this but the chac mools are found at Chichen, Tula and some other locations. They are probably an important part of what Ringle and others call the “Quetzalcoatl cult”. The ballplayers usually have other clothing than the Chac mools (at least in the Maya area but the “cult” was interregional). As far as I know the chac mools are not found at ballcourts. As for the posture, some depictions of captives in earlier Classic period iconography depict people in this position. I need to look it up but I think it is associated with rain/water as well. One chac mool has been found on the causeway leading to the Sacred cenote at Chichen.


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