Blog Tour: The Seventh Sun by Lani Forbes + Five Real-Life Aztecs Rituals Included in the Book + Giveaway

14 February 2020


—.:* Synopsis

Thrust into leadership upon the death of his emperor father, young Prince Ahkin feels completely unready for his new position. Though his royal blood controls the power of the sun, he's now responsible for the lives of all the Chicome people. And despite all Ahkin's efforts, the sun is fading--and the end of the world may be at hand.

For Mayana, the only daughter of the Chicome family whose blood controls the power of water, the old emperor's death may mean that she is next. Prince Ahkin must be married before he can ascend the throne, and Mayana is one of six noble daughters presented to him as a possible wife. Those who are not chosen will be sacrificed to the gods.

Only one girl can become Ahkin's bride. Mayana and Ahkin feel an immediate connection, but the gods themselves may be against them. Both recognize that the ancient rites of blood that keep the gods appeased may be harming the Chicome more than they help. As a bloodred comet and the fading sun bring a growing sense of dread, only two young people may hope to change their world.

Rich in imagination and romance, and based on the legends and history of the Aztec and Maya people, The Seventh Sun brings to vivid life a world on the edge of apocalyptic disaster.

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Before continuing to read this book, I recommend you to check the provided trigger warning below in case you're actively avoiding certain sensitive issues. 

Trigger WarningAnimal & human sacrifice, cutting for rituals, death of parents.

—.:* The Guest Post!

As the daughter of a research librarian, I have been trained well in the art of research. Growing up, I was always the one everyone came to for information. It was the running joke that I could find ANYTHING. You need to find a certain kind of job? Ask Lani and she will send you a list of fifteen possible job opportunities within an hour. You can’t find an article to support the argument you’re making for your paper? Ask Lani and she’ll find five for you by the end of day. But one of the most important lessons I’ve learned about research is the importance of knowing how to evaluate your sources. My mother taught classes on evaluating research actually designed a matrix to asses the validity of sources.

When it comes to the research I did for The Seventh Sun, I knew I wanted to use credible resources, preferably primary sources if at all possible. I started by researching reputable websites, sites by universities or research and consulting groups, and interviews and guest articles written by college professors and archaeologists. I also purchased books and actual textbooks from university classes as well as watched many documentaries. But by far, my favorite experience for research actually came from an opportunity to travel to Belize and Guatemala. I got to visit many historical sites and ruins, including the opportunity to hike into the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves in central Belize. Considered one of the most sacred caves in the world by National Geographic, the caves were believed by many to be the entrance to the Maya underworld, Xibalba. After hiking nearly an hour through the jungle to reach it, then swimming and squeezing our way for three hours deep into the earth, we finally saw ritual artifacts and skeletons of sacrifice victims ranging in age from young children to adults. It is one thing to read about the history, and it is another thing entirely to walk where they walked over a thousand years ago and see the evidence for yourself. It was priceless research to walk the steps of ancient royal palaces and temples, to feel the heat of the jungle and the pressing darkness of Xibalba firsthand.

Though history of ancient Mesoamerican cultures served as my inspiration for the story, The Seventh Sun is still a fantasy. The cities and geography are not actual places, much as George R.R. Martin’s Westeros is based on England, but is not actually England. There are also practices and deities that—though inspired—are not intended to be taken as historical. That being said, there are also many historical details I was able to remain faithful to. So, I wanted to share some fun interesting rituals that are included in The Seventh Sun that are based on actual history.

1. Food and Health
I tried to stay as true as possible to the diets that would have been eaten at the time, the dishes made from maize, the types of meat they would have eaten, and the types of drinks they would have consumed. This includes the fermented pulque and drinks made from cacao that the characters drink at the feasts. A fun little bit of information I ran across was a skincare treatment where the actual Aztec recipe called for bird droppings, and you will notice I used that specifically when Mayana’s aunts are preparing her to leave for Tollan. She isn’t exactly thrilled about the interesting choice of ingredient! The plants that are mentioned are very specifically researched. One source I used was a book on ancient Maya medicine. Even when Mayana describes Ahkin as smelling like xiuhamolli soap, that was taken directly from my research as a plant that was often used to clean the skin.

2. Tenoch’s Pillow Fight
Before Mayana goes to Tollan, she is worried about her little brother and how he will handle her leaving. She decides to make him a little “pillow” of wool tied up in a cloth sack, and she tells him to go throw it at the girl he thinks is prettiest. Of course Mayana’s father doesn’t approve, but that is actually a historical game that was played by young Aztec boys! According to the Florentine Codex, boys would sometimes carry little “pillows” filled with soft items such as grass or wool and hide them to throw at girls on the street. According to the source I found, the girls would also carry cactus thorns to chase them back!

3. Codex Sheets
Many of the religious texts of the ancient Aztecs are recorded on what are known as “codex sheets”, which are essentially long folded documents almost like an accordion. Today, less than twenty exist, but the ones that have survived teach us about history and rituals of various Mesoamerican cultures. Ancient scribes would glue together sheets of leather or bark paper as the foundation for the document and then paint it with various pigments. In The Seventh Sun, the Chicome also record their histories and rituals on codex sheets, and as you will see in the story, the codex plays a very important role in the society as well as the plot.

4. Mythology
An interesting fact about the Aztecs is that they were a syncretistic society that often incorporated the gods and practices of the people they conquered. Because of this, there are many conflicting accounts of certain deities. I chose to use the names of some of the more prominent deities, such as Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, and Huitzilopochtli, god of the the sun and war, but I also used creative license with more contested deities, such as Atlcoya, the goddess of drought, and Ometeotl, the divine creator couple. The “Legend of the Five Suns” is a creation myth that describes how the world was created and destroyed multiple times by different cataclysmic events. Each time the world was destroyed, a god had to sacrifice themselves to recreate the sun. According to the myth, we are currently living in the age of the fifth sun and it will eventually be destroyed by earthquakes. This really served as the main inspiration for the world of The Seventh Sun, who are living an age of the seventh sun. How the world was destroyed each time in the book is different from the causes in the original myth, but the general idea of the purpose and intent is the same.

5. Ritual Bloodletting
As I explain in the “Author’s Note” at the end of the book, the Aztecs believed that the gods sacrificed themselves in order to create mankind and the sun itself. Blood held the power of fertilization. They believed that the offer of blood was an act of thanks for the origin sacrifice and a way to offer a gift in exchange for life-giving sustenance. This was sometimes done through animal or human sacrifices, but also through ritual self-sacrifice of blood. Usually, self-sacrifice included pricking oneself with a sharp instrument such as a stingray or cactus spine. Because of their belief of the power held in blood, it made sense—for the sake of the story—for blood to hold many forms of power. This is why my magic system is so closely tied to the idea of bloodletting. It is not meant to encourage any kind of self-mutilation but was chosen in recognition of the specific historical practice. I also discuss the practice of human sacrifice in the note as well.

There are definitely more examples of ways that history influenced my choices in the story, but these were just some of my favorites. I hope my readers can be inspired to learn more about ancient Mesoamerican history, so If you do want to learn more, I definitely recommend checking out (they have wonderful articles and interviews with experts) and Handbook to Life in the Aztec World by Professor Manuel Aguilar-Moreno.

Thank you to The FFBC for hosting this blog tour and make this guest post happened!

—.:* About the Author

Lani Forbes is the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer, which explains her passionate love of the ocean and books. A California native whose parents live in Mexico, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest where she stubbornly wears flip flops no matter how cold it gets. She teaches middle school math and science and proudly calls herself a nerd and Gryffindor. She is also an award-winning member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Find her on: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

—.:* Giveaway

are you thinking about adding the seventh sun to your next reading list?

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