Night of Sorrows: A Novel

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9780393058253: Night of Sorrows: A Novel

A historical novel about the conquistador Cortés and the Aztec princess Malintzín, by a "stunning" (New York Times Book Review) writer.

Night of Sorrows plunges readers into the conflicting New Worlds of the mysterious Malintzín, born as an Aztec princess and sold as a slave, and her dashing and ruthless lover-master, conquistador Hernán Cortés. As they march through the Empire of the Sun to the shimmering island metropolis, Tenochtítlan (Mexico City), Cortés advances his cause by winning friends through Machiavellian conniving and confronting enemies in merciless battle. We witness the volatile dynamics and multifarious intrigues of the commander and his temperamental compadres, and weather the heartbreaking inner odyssey of Malintzín. Set at the twilight of the Aztec empire—April 1519 through the night of sorrows, la noche triste, June 30, 1520—Night of Sorrows explores the nature of slavery and imperialism, prostitution, friendship, feminine identity, and the macho ideal. Combining historical and fictional characters, Frances Sherwood's new novel is the story of a spectacular clash of traditions, imbued with her characteristic humor and bringing to life the colors, smells, and sounds of Mexico.

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About the Author:

Frances Sherwood teaches at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. She has written a book of stories and three previous novels, including Vindication and The Book of Splendor.

From Publishers Weekly:

In her newest novel, Sherwood (The Book of Splendor) vividly recreates the resounding collision between Spanish and Aztec civilizations in 1519 that helped shape the New World. Ambitious and ruthless conquistador Hernán Cortés leads an expedition to the gates of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital, where the outnumbered Spanish troops are welcomed by empororer Monctezuma, who mistakes Cortés for the god Quetzalcoatl. The natives, however, rise up on the famous Noche Triste (Sad Night) of the title and drive out the Spanish. The Aztecs win the battle, but the Spanish return to win the war. As Cortés's conquest is interwoven with memories and reflections from Aztec slave Malintzin-who serves the Spanish as translator and adviser and is taken as a mistress by Cortés-Sherwood captures both Spanish and Indian perspectives. She also manages to avoid the trap of presenting the Incans as wholly noble victims of the rapacious Europeans. Her conquistadors are cruel, but the natives are hardly righteous-Malintzin witnesses ritual human sacrifice, slavery and cannibalism while growing up in Tenochtitlán. Sherwood draws on solid research, keen imagination and descriptive prose to deliver a triad of history lesson, adventure saga and love story in one seamless narrative.
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