Solaris, out now
4 Jaguar, 1 Monkey, 1 House (November 25th, 2012): The Aztec Empire rules the world but there are those who think that it’s about time that changed…
The fourth in James Lovegrove’s Pantheon series is set in an alternate history where the Conquistadors failed to bring the Aztec Empire to its knees; instead, the culture and religion of the Nahuatl-speaking peoples have been exported around the world. It’s a cruel regime: failure is punished with the ultimate sanction, while human sacrifice is central to daily life.
Lovegrove focuses on two key people: police detective Mal Vaughn, who has her own reasons for not totally buying into the way of the world, and the masked vigilante, the Conquistador, aka industrialist Stuart Reston, who has more than a little bit of Leslie Charteris’s swashbuckling hero the Saint about him. Vaughn’s pursuit of Reston leads her to Central America, and the discovery that there are forces way beyond the Jaguar Warriors.
The Aztec gods are as callous as the religion carried out in their name, and their arrogance and hubris leads to catastrophic results, with Lovegrove incorporating features of another religion from that region to explain why things are happening at this specific point in time.
It’s a thoroughly engrossing novel, with well-written chase sequences that feature people about whom we care – we may not always like them, but we’re always invested in them – and some epic battle scenes. If you enjoy techno-thrillers with a twist, you’ll like this. 8/10