17 April 2014


This week, we're pleased to welcome author Leonide Martin with her latest novel,  THE VISIONARY MAYAN QUEEN: YOHL IK’NAL OF PALENQUE. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. FREE copies of the novel are available on Amazon; there is no giveaway scheduled. Here's the blurb:

Yohl Ik’nal was one of the most powerful women in the Americas, but few have heard of her.  The first woman to become a Maya ruler in her own right, her visionary powers were destined to guide her people through social turmoil and enemy attack as she preserved her dynastic lineage and left her mark on history.  Facing betrayal and revenge, love for her father steeled her will as he trained her for rulership.  Her life was dedicated to her dynasty and people, and she feared no romantic love would ever be hers, but found a surprising and sustaining relationshipAs a seer, she knew times of turmoil were coming and succession to the throne was far from certain.  Could she prepare her headstrong daughter for rulership or help her weak son become a charismatic leader?  Her actions could lead to ruin or bring her city to greatness. 

Centuries later Francesca, part-Mayan archeologist, helps her team at Palenque excavate the royal burial of a crimson skeleton, possibly the first Mayan queen's tomb ever discovered.  She never anticipated how it would impact her life and unravel a web of ancient bonds.

This is an unusual book, because no other historical fiction enters the world of Classic Maya society at Palenque with such dedication to authenticity.  It is extensively researched and true to archeological facts.  The well-known historical Maya characters are brought to life, their personalities fleshed out and their inner motives, emotions and beliefs made plausible.  The story adheres to recorded events during this time period, while expanding on background forces at play and using vivid scenes to depict these.   In the parallel story, taking place in contemporary times, the fascinating progression of archeological discovery at Palenque unfolds, and a complex web of interconnections between past and present is revealed.  Readers who appreciate accurate and richly detailed portrayals of ancient cultures, set in a compelling story, will feel well rewarded by this novel.

**An Excerpt from The Visionary Mayan Queen: Yohl Ik’nal of Palenque**

Now comes something important.”
            The messenger’s sonorous words echoed off the plaster walls of the Popol Nah, the Council House of Lakam Ha.
            Ahkal Mo’ Nab, Holy Lord of B’aakal, moved his regal head slightly and eyed the messenger.  His slender body straightened but remained relaxed in the customary posture, one leg tucked under the other that dangled from the low stone throne covered with a jaguar pelt.  He motioned gracefully with one hand, signing for the messenger to continue.
            Yohl Ik’nal was all attention.  Eyes wide, she surveyed the rectangular room, walls lined with benches slightly lower than the ruler’s throne.  The benches were covered with woven mats, cushioning the stony hardness.  It was her first time in the Popol Nah, and she sat proudly beside her parents as an adult of the sacred blood. 
            Kan Bahlam studied the messenger with experienced eyes.  This messenger was a well-respected noble, a seasoned runner and traveler who had visited many cities.  He had relayed numerous important messages before, and was not prone to exaggerate.  Clearly the messenger was excited, his black eyes sparkling and his body taut.
            Kan Bahlam could read men.  More than once this keen insight had steered his brother Ahkal Mo’ Nab away from hasty or inopportune decisions.  He was concerned about his brother, noting traces of fatigue around eyes and mouth of the thin face.  It seemed the ruler had lost yet more weight, and his skin appeared sallow, despite his wardrobe attendant’s efforts to mask these.  Few appreciated how the ruler disguised his sickness, but Kan Bahlam knew well the cost of these efforts. 
            His mind wandered for an instant to the dank swamps of their adolescent quest.  The two royal boys, born only one year apart, entered the transformation rites at the same time, companions facing the challenge of surviving in dangerous terrain while pursuing their jaguar prey.  Young men of royal blood who were potential heirs must hunt and kill a jaguar, bringing back the pelt to signify their victory over fear and their mastery of the most powerful jungle beast.  Only then could the jaguar become their uay to guide and counsel them in matters of power and the Underworld.  They would earn the right to sit upon the jaguar-skin draped over the ruler’s throne. 
            Both succeeded in their quest, but Ahkal Mo’ Nab brought something else home beside a jaguar pelt.  A few weeks later he was seized by a ferocious fever, sweating and shaking with bone-rattling chills, struggling with a fierce opponent who brought him to the edge of death.  Priestly ministrations and rich offerings by his father ameliorated the Death Lords and the boy survived, but was severely weakened.  His body was never again strong although his mind recovered its sharpness.  Now in middle age, he was weakening steadily as the minion of the swamp was hard at work again
            Kan Bahlam had long believed that this sickness, this life-sucking swamp fever that robbed his brother of so much strength was at the root of his childlessness.  Though married to a robust woman, Ahkal Mo’ Nab had failed to produce offspring in their 20 years together.  Given his declining health, it was doubtful an heir would be brought forth.  Thus the lineage succession would fall to Kan Bahlam and his family—to be precise, his only living child, his daughter Yohl Ik’nal.  This troubled him; male succession was preferred although Maya custom did not dictate patrilineal descent.    
            The messenger’s resounding voice pulled Kan Bahlam back to the present.
            “There is discontent among the ahauob of Usihwitz and Yokib.  It is said, they speak of it, that the May Council decided unjustly.  Why should it be, they ask, that Lakam Ha becomes the May Ku again?  Is it not enough, is it not just that Lakam Ha now luxuriates in the honors, the tributes, the construction of many new buildings?  This is what is just, they say: it is enough for Lakam Ha to prosper for 260 tuns enjoying the katun celebrations and the dispensation of katun privileges.  Some other city should be the next May Ku.  Let us share this bounty, why keep it there?  So they speak, so they argue, in Usihwitz and Yokib.” 
            Indignant murmuring filled the Popol Nah.  Various nobles gestured and signed each other their surprise and concern.  All waited for Ahkal Mo’ Nab to speak.
            “So they spoke ill.”  The ruler emphasized each word.  “The May Council was fairly constructed and represented all the cities in the B’aakal polity.  On the Council sat priests and ahauob of every city, Usihwitz and Yokib included.  Why do they complain?”
            “So say they, that the men of their city were weak,” answered the messenger.  “They who now complain were not at the Council and are angry they did not have a say.  It is a long time, beyond their generation, until the next may seating and they covet the prize now.”
            The ruler gestured for others in the Council House to speak, turning from long habit toward his brother.
            “More is to be seen here, the roots go deep,” Kan Bahlam said.  “Sahal, speak of what you learned in other places you visited.”  He nodded at the messenger.
            “My travels also took me to Popo’.  This city in our polity, far from the river, we think about as a slow-moving place isolated by the vast jungle.  But in fact there is much foment in Popo’, much movement, much involvement that is surprising.  When I was there, several ahauob had recently returned from Kan, in the Polity of Ka’an, the Snake.”
            Murmurs of surprise rippled through the Council House.  Kan was the name of the ruling dynasty of a distant polity called Ka’an.  Their primary city was Dzibanche, but frequently the dynastic name was used instead.  Many days of travel were needed to cover the terrain from Popo’ to Kan.

Learn more about the author Leonide Martin at:

Website:        www.mistsofpalenque.com
Blog:               http://leonidemartinblog.wordpress.com
Twitter:         https://twitter.com/lenniem07
                        Twitter handle @lenniem07
Amazon book:  http://amzn.to/1kG8mGy
Goodreads:   https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2869611.Leonide_Martin