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Death is never far for Angry WaspHis daughter lost to slavers his wife immersed in powerful sorcery and his nation embroiled in Montezuma’s bitter war and under threat of encroaching Spanish invasion Angry Wasp faces the battle of a lifetimeTo regain his family save his nation from extinction and protect his very soul from dangers far perilous than he dares admit there is only one possible solution a dance with Death to the haunting melody of hope and lossPower tragedy and betrayal weave a desperate song of reckless gambles to gain salvation with every battle drawing Wasp deeper into life threatening events and crucial choices One wrong decision and he loses it allWhen the music ceases and the dead are counted will Angry Wasp hold the key to his daughter's freedom? Or will he have led his proud nation to its ultimate collapse“Genuine depth” Marc D Baldwin PhD edit911com“The writing is good and the story is fun An amazing imagination This book truly is excellent” Arnold Friedman Editor“A fresh and welcome change Fluent warm and engaging writing draws the reader into Wasp’s heart from the moment the story opens” William Greenleaf author of The Tartarus Incident and The Pandora Stone


11 thoughts on “Five Dances with Death

  1. says:

    Having only one other experience in reading Historical Fiction I stepped with great trepidation into reading this novel I was surprisingly pleased Firstly because I am very interested in the Aztec history and secondly how their individual cultures and beliefs have left us both history and mystery folk and lore and the supernatural or paranormal history and legend that is known amongst Indians from all lands Briggs allows the reader all of this and Thankfully for the benefit of the readers Briggs understands that the spoken word that dominated large parts of Mesoamerica the Nahuatl language would deem most difficult to read Instead he elouently and wisely chose beautiful English based names for persons places and things to which readers can better relate For those interested the provides a brief guide at the beginning of the novel to show what wonderful meanings the Aztec vocabulary hasIn this novel Wasp a leader a husband and a father tells the story of his place and time in one of the many ethnic groups of central Mexico shortly before the Spanish Conuistadors take over completely I found it pleasurable reading for the author to have Wasp tell us his story in the first person narrative This way the reader is privy to all of Wasp's innermost feelings his actions and reactions his explanation in descriptive detail of his surroundings and all of the activities during this tumultuous time All told in a colorful wayThe year is 1519 The main character Wasp is one lovable angry warrior He is also known as Angry Wasp for good reason He loses a very young daughter into the slave market trade with no easy way to get her back He is leader of a small nation having just as many opponents as allies Who is friend or foe at every turn makes for uneasy living although over time that really hasn't changed much for humans Wasp must protect his lands and his people learning that he must become a 'Angry Wasp' as he very highly feels and knows that the outlanders conuistadors are coming to threaten everything the old Mexico ever knew Wasp must pick and choose his battles carefully There is the battle of finding his daughter There is the battle to keep everything his culture and tradition holds dear Wasp must choose what takes precedence as time marches on Games in every sense of the word are played to win and lose loved ones as well as making a final decision on WHO may be sacrificed at any given time The sacrifices are not for the weak of heart but those were the times of such practices Briggs does not leave Montezuma out of this novel but calls him instead Stern Lord Stern Lord takes part in these games to see who is to be sacrificed and how soWasp's wife of nature Broken Plume is a powerful influence upon him not only as his wife but as a woman of nature; a sorceress Such people of nature or the forest are called Otomíes and not looked highly upon from other cultured Aztec peoples Not surprisingly Wasp had a second wife Rainbow who is a Toltec I was pleased to see at least one character of the Toltec culture brought into this novel as I am somewhat familiar with the legendary Toltecs The Aztecs saw the Toltecs as their own predecessors whom they glorified in order to be able to legitimize their own structures of power by claiming royal descent from Toltec lineages In Wasp's own words his Toltec wife Rainbow was the pride of my family and my bid to euality with all the rulers of the One World Having a real Toltec wife was as important to enter the select cliue of nobility as having land for the peasants to cultivate A personal and political advantage for Wasp Rainbow also gave him a son Needless to say Rainbow is not fond of Broken Plume but is a man to do? It worked in history and it works for WaspFinding Dew his daughter with Broken Plume that was lost in the slave trade ever since she could walk was a personal matter for Wasp and finding her was one mission among others in this novel He works with others to try to find his daughter who became a nameless youngster among hundreds sold in the slave trade while trying to dodge the enemies bent on destroying taking over their lands and therefore culture This is where a novel of this type could use a little or a lot of paranormal activity to get what they need Wasp has learned that smoking a potent mixture of mushrooms and bark can solve a lot of problems gaining paranormal means but always at a priceAztec cultures are steeped in rich and complex mythological and religious traditions They also see the world in many dimensions The author takes advantage of this and also what puts FIVE DANCES WITH DEATH into the category of fantasy or supernatural or paranormal as well as a stroke of Historical fiction In this tale some Aztecs including Wasp are able to separate their mind soul and spirit from their body and are able to create a double of themselves For history purposes this is very common among any Indian or Aztec tribes In doing so they can go and visit others with the same paranormal gifts those who can create doubles of themselves and get a sense of what is happening in other lands as well as with other people Wasp finds that he can have a little fun with those people especially his enemies by visiting and entering their minds and therefore playing with their headsWasp knows that he needs to stay grounded in the real world instead of enjoying the stalking others by instant travel via smoking and being able to make a double of himself in the spirit world to both protect his lands and find his daughter but he also needs such an occasional relief from the common stressors of a leader in the real world Wasp chooses to smoke a bit too much which leads to him leaving his body too often His wife of nature Broken Plume showed him many things from the natural world by being a sorceress but she strongly and adamantly advises Wasp NOT to enter into the fantasy or paranormal world by smoking too much Her wisdom is profound but Wasp does not listen since euphoric activities and instant travel are too much of an attraction or addiction Being allowed instant travel out of his body certainly has its advantages but just as many downfalls This is simply because one easily loses control of themselves as well as drains themselves of their necessary energy needed as a leader of clans and lands Yet if Wasp did not have some relief from reality and something else to occupy his mind he may end up destroying himself A man named Hernan becomes Wasp's first victim to play mind games with In historical fact Hernán Cortés was the Spanish explorer who is famous mainly for his march across Mexico and his conuering of the Aztec Empire in Mexico The perfect victim for Wasp to have control over Having the ability to leave his physical body and become a spirit entity certainly has its perks Wasp's initial out of body visits to enter Hernán's head and thought briefly reminded me of how the ghost of Marley in 'Scrooge' visits taunts and scares Scrooge Wasps further visits into Hernan's mind did have its advantages in war time especually Although as we know from history Wasp had no real control over Cortés since Cortés and his army wiped out two thirds of the Aztec population But this is where the FANTASY of this novel comes into play for the readerFrom there the novel takes us through the old Mexico with the Aztecs specifically Wasp and Broken Plume battling wits and strength with others who have sorcerers of their own the Mayans and other peoples of the area The reader is taken firsthand through ceremonies and festivals Places where games are played not only for fun but for the winners to sacrifice the lives and souls of those they have put in cages in a nearby room The killings are for the gods and nothing The sacrifices are uite descriptive but the norm for the culture at that time One such game in the novel became fun to read because in legend or lore one can't physically kill an individual of nature or sorceress like Plume Her heart may be physically torn out but her spiritual being remains and is seeing those killing her Undoubtedly a plus for not only Plume but for Wasp himself Beginning in 1990 why then I have no idea I began to feel a certain link to not only Native American Indians but other cultures including the Aztecs Even without having much knowledge whatsoever of either one I also do not have the desire to read dry history so FIVE CHANCES WITH DEATH DANCE ONE offered me the uniue opportunity to live during the time of the Spanish Conuistadors and their conuest of the Aztec empire In all honesty however I think I would've enjoyed the novel if Wasp wasn't fooling around with his paranormal abilities as much as he did but the author chose to have that amount of supernatural fantasy and I can't blame him as it is what he found pleasure in writingWithout a doubt Author Austin Briggs has done his research on the Spanish conuistadors The Aztec Empire Historical fiction can be good or bad but with the Briggs' travels to different places in our world to gather FIRSTHAND information certainly puts this historical fiction novel right up there with the best


  2. says:

    I enjoyed the story of Angry Wasp and his struggles to lead his people and recover what he lost as the Conuistadors arrive in the Yucatan


  3. says:

    Five Dances with Death Dance One evokes the Aztec world in a manner that the story almost reads itself The main characters have realistic development that dovetails with the interesting plot Austin Briggs balances a natural writing style with enough new words to maintain a sense of discovery I am fascinated by Angry Wasp's struggle to discern what and whom he can trust as he interacts with his physical and magical worlds My empathy for Angry Wasp and those he loves was heightened by the conflicts that were exacerbated by his confusion With bated breath I anticipate the next book in this series