Review // The Serpent and the Eagle by Edward Rickford
Historical fiction is typically not where I find my reading comfort zone. Although fascinated by history, I have never been fascinated by reading about it. So when author, Edward Rickford, shared his book The Serpent and the Eagle with me, I was almost certain that I would not find it enjoyable due to the content. Well, there is a ton of room in ALMOST because, not only did I find it enjoyable, I found The Serpent and the Eagle to be one of my most liked reads of 2019.
“I mean to find gold and have no thought but to serve God and king.”
The Serpent and the Eagle is set in 1519 at the beginning of the Mexica-Spanish clash – what we know today as the fall of the Aztec Empire. I loved that Rickford was able to deliver a true story based on historical facts and culture without giving a history lesson. The historical story was intriguing and the characters were engaging.
Our story’s characters, which I had to keep in mind are real people, were well developed as individuals each with their own background and growth. Thankfully, this leads to a well-written story with depth and felt nowhere near just a retelling of the facts. Take note that there are several relationships at play within this story, most notably with Captain Hernán Cortés and Motecuhzoma; Father Aguilar and Doña Marina, but I will have to say that I constantly found myself intrigued with the relationship between a soldier, Vitale, and a slave, Solomon.
“No longer could the mission be considered a simple search for gold.”
Although I read The Serpent and the Eagle fairly quickly – within 4 days, I also read pretty much non-stop during those days while on vacation. There is much territory to cover while reading, so I suggest taking your time and don’t force yourself to finish within a set limit. I also found myself wanting to research further the characters and events as I read. I may not have wanted a history lesson, I found myself taking the time to learn.
Even with fears of The Serpent and the Eagle being a history lesson, I took the leap and landed on the other side of a great read. I have to commend Edward Rickford for writing a novel that read like a historical mystery that kept me interested through to the last page. I’m anxiously awaiting the second novel in the series.
“They would either win the land or die in the attempt. The long-awaited march to Tenochtitlan had finally begun.”
When two cultures collide, there are always multiple versions of history. A brave and expansive look into the bygone era of exploration by the Spaniards into Aztec lands. A thinking person’s novel. Fascinating!Chanticleer Reviews
Edward Rickford knows his history. The Serpent and the Eagle is a masterpiece of historical fiction. It’s filled with surprises and heart-rending characters, but it’s Rickford’s attention to cultural details, both native Mexica and Spanish, that puts this book one step above its competition. Plan a long weekend of reading. You’re going to love this book.Kathleen O’Neal Gear, New York Times bestselling author of People of the Canyons
Difficult to put down. Well-written, fascinating, and full of wonderfully diverse points of view!Zoe Saadia, author of the Pre-Aztec Trilogy and the Rise of the Aztec Series
Ever since Edward was young, he has enjoyed writing. College gave him the chance to combine his interest in history with his passion for storytelling and he mainly writes historical fiction now. To research The Serpent and the Eagle, he read centuries-old texts and traveled to Mexico repeatedly, even retracing Cortés’ route through central Mexico. For his writing, he has won the Grand Prize Award in the 2018 Chaucer Book Awards, the Readers’ Favorite Award, and the Deixler-Swain prize for his undergraduate thesis on the Spanish-Mexica war.