Title: The Seventh Sun
Series: The Age of the Seventh Sun #1
Author: Lani Forbes
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Content warning: Blood rituals, animal sacrifice, parental death
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ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Lani Forbes explores the complexities of faith, religion, and tradition in the first book of her series inspired by Aztec mythology The Seventh Sun.
Thrust into leadership upon the death of his emperor father, young Prince Ahkin feels completely unready for his new position. Though his royal blood controls the power of the sun, he’s now responsible for the lives of all the Chicome people. And despite all Ahkin’s efforts, the sun is fading – and the end of the world may be at hand.
For Mayana, the only daughter of the Chicome family whose blood controls the power of water, the old emperor’s death may mean that she is next. Prince Ahkin must be married before he can ascend the throne, and Mayana is one of six noble daughters presented to him as a possible wife. Those whose are not chosen will be sacrificed to the gods.
Only one girl can become Ahkin’s bride. Mayana and Ahkin feel an immediate connection, but the gods themselves may be against them. Both recognize that the ancient rites of blood that keep the gods appeased may be harming the Chicome more than they help. As a bloodred comet and the fading sun bring a growing sense of dread, only two young people may hope to change their world.
To be honest, I didn’t quite know what this book was about when I first saw it on Edelweiss. I think my mind just zeroed in on Aztec mythology and, having not read many books inspired by Mesoamerican cultures, I requested it and luckily got approved for a review copy.
Well, folks, ya girl is super glad she took a chance.
The Seventh Sun was the nicest of surprises. Thrilling and romantic in equal parts, Lani Forbes weaved together a story about faith and tradition, and of two young people who must challenge everything they’ve ever known and believed in if they are to have hope of saving their people and the world.
There is much to love in this story. From the characters to the intricate plot, to the surprising and unexpected twist revealed near the end of this installment, The Seventh Sun is an engrossing and intriguing read.
The story follows Ahkin, heir to the Chicome empire, and Mayana, the only daughter of the noble family of Atl. With the sudden death of the emperor, both Ahkin’s and Mayana’s lives are altered: the former forced into leadership while the latter is sent to either be the new empress to rule by the prince’s side or as a sacrifice to the gods.
Ahkin and Mayana were a great match. Alike and different at the same time, their personalities and their beliefs complement one another’s. Introspective, untested, and still grieving the deaths of his parents Ahkin was unready and ill-prepared to be emperor but, with another apocalypse looming, he doesn’t have much of a choice. Curious, compassionate, and kind to a fault, Mayana is born into a world whose practices goes against the very core of her. She stands alone and without an ally in her corner of the empire, weighed down by guilt over her mother’s accidental death. Still, wanting to earn her father’s approval, she abides by the ancient rules and rites set upon her even as she starts to question them.
It took me a while but I grew to like both Ahkin and Mayana. These two were put through the grinder, and I just couldn’t help but feel for them. Despite the vast difference between our world and theirs, I was still able to relate to Ahkin and Mayana. They grappled with similar questions I’ve often asked myself – questions about faith, religion, and tradition, and about staying true to yourself and doing what your feel is right.
As good as Ahkin and Mayana were as main characters though, it is this story’s world that really shone the brightest.
Built upon various Mesoamerican cultures & mythology, The Seventh Sun featured a unique world, rich and lush from the very first page. Forbes mainly takes inspiration from Aztec mythology – the ancient gods and a great part of rituals and the religion depicted in the story – but she has also taken creative liberties where it is necessary, threading in inspiration from ancient Mayan and even Egyptian cultures. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t encountered a lot of books featuring the ancient cultures that this book did, but the world of this story was the part that I enjoyed the most. It just drew me in and into the pages, so intrigued by everything described – the food, the way of life of the Chicome – that I became even more engrossed reading and following Ahkin and Mayana’s stories.
While there are still a few things I wished were better – secondary characters lacked depth, a few action sequences felt like filler- I absolutely loved this book. It explored ancient myths and cultures that haven’t been featured on a lot of stories. I’m definitely coming back to this series next year once the sequel is out. I mean, you couldn’t possibly think I’d want to miss it not with the way this installment ended. Readers of YA fantasy and the romance genre will definitely find something to love in this book.
P.S. The author has a pronunciation guide on her website. You can check it out if you’re curious (and tongue-tied) as I was. And in that same vein, I highly encourage you to read more about ancient Mesoamerican cultures and myths.
LANI FORBES is the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer, which explains her passionate love of the ocean and books. A California native whose parents live in Mexico, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest where she stubbornly wears flip flops no matter how cold it gets. She teaches middle school math and science, and proudly calls herself a nerd and Gryffindor. She is also an award-winning member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.