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by Pat Winter
“Wing was the first to see the children playing with the jaguar…”
The last Maya Indian city-state in 10th century Mexico is collapsing under hauntingly familiar ecological disasters after generations of perfect corn-growing weather. Withering drought leaves the JAGUAR KING unable to pay off two seasons of seed-corn debt to Toltec invaders. Forced to celebrate humiliating public defeat, he is a king without a kingdom exiled on a floating pyramid, reduced under Toltec custody as deliveryman of corn cargo to other indebted coastal nations. Obsessed with acquiring a new domain, his opportunity comes in a life-&-death ballgame played with a losing captain’s head as the ball. He is a star player whose palace guard doubles as his unbeaten team against Toltec clients who field an undefeated champion-- a young giant, a prince whose uncle sold him into slavery and usurped his Mississippi chiefdom.
After wreaking ghastly revenge on the Toltecs, king and prince mastermind an allied takeover from the usurper who needs the king’s expertise to finish a massive pyramid still standing across the River from St. Louis, Missouri. Will the JAGUAR KING sacrifice his family and loyal followers to reach the usurper’s kill zone, then betray his new ally in a power grab, gambling on good weather to repeat the ecologically unsound practices of slash-&-burn deforestation, labor overpopulation and single-crop dependence that collapsed his Mexican throne?
Told from the point-of-view of a peasant girl who dares to interfere with a sacred cat’s wild desire, JAGUAR KING follows the moccasin tracks of Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, authors such as Zane Grey, Gary Jennings, James Alexander Thom, and movies such as Dances With Wolves and Apocalypto that appeal to all readers who crave historic action-adventure, martial arts thrillers enriched with elements of science fiction and magical realism.