Sunday, September 27, 2009

Book review: The Goldsmith's Daughter by Tanya Landman

The Goldsmith's Daughter by Tanya Landman (Published by Candlewick, September 9, 2009)

Itacate was born in the great city of Tenochtitlán during the last years of the ill-fated Aztec empire. Her mother died giving birth to Itacate and her twin brother, and Itacate herself almost didn’t survive. As a result, she is considered from birth to be unlucky and destined to a terrible future, while her brother is believed to be destined to greatness. She spends her childhood mostly ignored, until her father, a goldsmith, discovers her talents and makes her his secret apprentice. But the year Itacate turns fifteen, everything changes.

First, Itacate’s twin brother, whom she believed would grow to be a great warrior, is instead chosen as a sacrifice to the gods. Then, Spanish Conquistadors arrive. Itacate catches the eye of one young Spaniard, Francisco. But when their secret love is discovered, it brings down upon them the wrath of her father and the disapproval of her people. And time is running out for Tenochtitlán and its people. What will become of Itacate, her family, and her beloved when the city falls?

The Goldsmith’s Daughter is a fascinating historical novel that brings to life the Aztec culture and the final days of the great city of Tenochtitlán and the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Although the historical outcome is known, there is still suspense in wondering what will become of the fictional characters when the city inevitably is destroyed. Although the author does make a few modifications to the actual historical events for the sake of the story, overall she does a good job of introducing teen readers to the Aztec culture and to an era of history not often written about for young adults.

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