Lady of Palenque: Flower of Bacal by Anna Kirwan

Lady of Palenque by Anna Kirwan(Cover picture courtesy of 9 Chuen 14 Mol (July 7)

Lakamha, Bacal Highland

I thought, now that I leave Lakamha, I may never return.  I may never see my family again.  Well, perhaps I will see some of them.  But I will be like the water that comes down from a spring deep in the heart of a mountain cavern.  It can flow and seep and pool and cascade all the way down to the water lily fields, all the way down to the big river, all the way to the marshes and the great salt sea….

But it can never flow back uphill to its home.

I will never forget Lakamha, even if Lakamha forgets me.

All I really have to say is meh.  Lady of Palenque was a book that had so much potential that was unrealized; I should have loved it.  I have visited 3 different Mayan cities, two of which are mentioned in the book and was fascinated by even the little bit of history I learned while there.  So when I saw that Lady of Palenque was written in the point of view of a Mayan princess, I practically jumped with joy.  Here was a great opportunity to learn more about the Classical Mayan Period and their culture!

Um, not really.  Sure, I learned a few things, but Anna Kirwan didn’t really seem to know how to explain all of the exotic customs and items from daily life to readers.  It seems like she just assumed readers would know about these things.  Well, no.  Despite the Mayan Doomsday scare of 2012 perpetuated by an idiotic media, not much is actually known about the Mayan culture in the mainstream.  Even someone like me who has visited multiple Mayan sites really has next to no background in their history in the relative scheme of things.  So I didn’t really learn as much as I did from other books in The Royal Diaries.

Part of the problem was the names.  Oh my word, the names!  When the main character introduces herself as ShahnaK’in Yaxchel Pacal, Princess Green Jay on the Wall, you know things are going to be complicated.  And that really isn’t the Lady of Palenque’s name because Anna Kirwan had to make up her personal name.  Her real name was “Chac Nik Ye, Yax Ahau Xoc”.  Now, I’m a huge advocate for being as realistic as possible in historical fiction, but with all of the insanely long, complicated names (to a Westerner with a frankly pathetic background in language) I had a hard time following the story itself.  As far as I can tell, it mostly features the thirteen-year-old Lady travelling to her husband-to-be in Xukpi.

There has to be a better way to keep the names straight without completely dumbing down the book, right?  Right?!

I give this book 2/5 stars.

Amazon*     Barnes and Noble*

*Only available as a used book.

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