Made For Wonder Publishing (2017)
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (1/18)
“The Controversial Mayan Queen: Sak K’uk of Palenque” by Leonide Martin is a fictional story within Mayan history. The story follows the life of Sak K’uk, the first woman to rule the Mayan empire. The story begins with Sak K’uk’s brother, Aj Ne, a ruler who is criticized by Sak K’uk’s husband for being a pacifist, neglecting the army training, and having no concerns for being prepared for war should that time come, even though they were at peace. Sak K’uk agreed with her husband, but could not do much about it as her advice was not being heard. Instead, she focused her time into getting her young son, K’inich Janaab Pakal, prepared for ruling at his young age of five, as she believed he had the same special talents of foreseeing the future as his Grandmother, and she was convinced he was able to talk with the gods. She convinced the High Priest of Lakam Ha to begin young Pakal’s training, without knowing that there were enemy plans to attack their kingdom. She had not foreseen all the struggles she would have to face to secure her son’s future as ruler, and to re-build her kingdom.
Leonide Martin’s knowledge of the Mayan culture is impressive. She uses her understanding to create a real picture of the story’s setting. Her amazing plot building skills are evident as well, as I kept reading, finding it hard to put the book down. Having said that, I did find the story to be a difficult read, especially in the beginning, due to the unusual character names and places. Even with the characters, place, and politics information presented at the beginning of the book (which I believe it to be essential to read before starting the actual story in order to enjoy the book) there was so much information presented in the first chapter that I had to go back and forth in order to be able to follow along. As I read more and more, though it did get easier, and I got used to the Mayan language names and references.
I did feel the dialogue felt too formal between the characters, and that Pakal, the son, spoke more like a grown up instead of a child when it came to his vocabulary (although he was special, I believe he still would have spoken like a child even if smarter than his years). So the dialogue kind of put me off a little sometimes, yet, Leonide Martin’s storytelling skills would grab my attention with her wonderful narrative voice, amazing descriptions, and captivating plot.
Overall, “The Controversial Mayan Queen: Sak K’uk of Palenque” by Leonide Martin is an awesome read if the reader sticks to it through the first couple of chapters to get used to the Mayan vocabulary. I recommend it to all readers lovers of historical fiction in the Americas!