You Dreamed of Empires

Riverhead. Jan. 2024. 240p. tr. from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer. ISBN 9780593544792. $28. F
Inspired by the work of Jorge Luis Borges, Mexican novelist Enrigue (Sudden Death) writes a fantastical spin on the history of the famous Aztec leader Moctezuma II and his fateful meeting with the Spaniard Hernán Cortés in 1519. Moctezuma is 55 years old and moody and does not like to be seen outside of the palace. He depends on the hallucinogenic properties of plants to get through the day. Once the fierce military leader who won his first war at the age of 14, Moctezuma now likens his leadership role to head priest of a cult. Cortés and his entourage are allowed into the city of Tenochtitlan and ushered past the gates into the labyrinth of the palace, where they wait—and wonder. Details of human sacrifice, the Aztec penchant for dismembering enemies, and making wind chimes of skulls and skeletal remains are well described in realistic terms. The human chimes were made to scare rivals and deter warring factions and were mostly successful, until the Aztecs encountered the invading Cortés.
VERDICT In Enrigue’s well-researched novel, a segment of Aztec history comes to life, with the author’s own twist.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing