Five Dances with Death: Dance One [Kindle Edition]
By Austin Briggs

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 726 KB
Print Length: 242 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Helvetic House (July 25, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English

If you’re a fan of historical novels, are interested in the Aztecs, and would like to try something different, you’ll enjoy Five Dances with Death: Dance One by Austing Briggs.

Written in first person from the point of view of Angry Wasp, the story begins in 1516, during the era of the Spanish Conquest in Mexico. Angry Wasp, military leader of Tlaxcala, wants to keep his nation safe and search for his lost daughter, Dew, whom he’d lost to one of the leaders of an enemy tribe, a man named Talon. Though Wasp has now captured Talon, the man won’t reveal the whereabouts of Dew. The war with this enemy tribe, the Moonwalk People, is now a personal matter, though Wasp doesn’t want to make this evident to his people.

One of Wasp’s wives, a sorcerer well-educated in the magic arts, teaches him to have out-of-body experiences – that is, to travel in soul and spirit while his body stays in the safety of his village. It is in this “tricky” state, which is hard to fully control, that Wasp makes a twin of himself and meets with Stern Lord, the most powerful man in the world and ruler of the Moonwalk People. Stern Lord is aware that Talon is being kept prisoner by Wasp and isn’t happy about it. Thus begins Wasp’s dance with death as he tries to stay alive and discover what happened to his daughter.

Magic, history, sorcery, mysticism, spirituality, fantasy, and magical realism combine to create an original, intriguing story that will capture your imagination. Briggs writes with attention to detail, making his world come alive. I enjoyed the dialogue and descriptions and especially seeing the world from Wasp’s perspective. My only problem with the story is that in the beginning the issue of finding the daughter seems important but later on it sorts of falls to second place. This didn’t stop me from reading but it did get my attention.

Since the book is self-published, I was also surprised by the quality of the writing: excellent and free of typos or grammatical mistakes. I really appreciate when a self-published book is so well copyedited. In addition, the story seems very well researched and I found interesting all the cultural information, especially the segments on sorcery and sacrifice rituals. Briggs has been researching the Aztec Empire for over 10 years and his knowledge comes through in the writing, without hitting the reader over the head or slowing down the pace with information dumps. In sum, this is a novel worth reading and I recommend it if you’re particularly interested in Aztec history and culture.

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani (
December 2011

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