WAR OF THE MAYAN KING by Rupert Hughes
Kirkus Star


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A traditional adventure plot serves fine purpose here for some colorfully detailed episodes of twelfth century Mayan life. Ulil is a boy whose uncle Ah Tunal, saw the invasion of Chichen Itza by Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl, and the Toltecs in his own youth. One day Ulil kills a jaguar and is saved from death by wounds by the foresight of Ix Xail, sister of Chaka, his most serious rival at pok-ol-pok (a strenuous Mayan ball game)- and then works with his uncle while recovering. Tunal has the hateful task of carving frescoes of the Toltec conquest; Ulil sculpts a jaguar. Later, Ulil's team wins the Chichen Itza pok-ol-pok championship. There are visiting games to other cities- but tension grows as Kukulcan commissions a statue of himself to remind the people of his rule while he is mysteriously away, and as Ix Xail is chosen for sacrifice to the rain god Yum Chac. A drought-ending downpour saves the girl's life and Kukulcan, according to legend, disappears, thus leaving the reader with the impression that evil Toltec will fade. Mr. Hughes has made a credible story from his interpretation of Yucatan history- and his rendition of Mayan emotions; for example their attitude of acceptance and reverence towards sacrifice is good. So are action and detail in Edward J. Smith's drawings of tassel-topped Indians. Good melodrama.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1952
Publisher: Winston