The Highlander by Zoe Saadia

Publication Date: September 16, 2012

 

ZS_The_HighlanderCoytl and Kuini are 10-year-old boys when they meet. One is the oldest son of a minor wife of the Emperor (and on the cusp of becoming the primary heir), and the other is a presumed enemy of the city—a savage Highlander. The boys build a strong friendship, and 5 years later they’re still meeting. When Coytl suggests that Kuini come with him into the city to get a closer look at the treasures he’d only viewed from afar, the excursion seems dangerous but manageable. Little does Kuini know the true scope of what he’ll experience visiting the lowland city—or even how long he’ll be able to survive.The Highlander (The Rise of The Aztecs Series, book 1) is the first book in the Rise of the Aztecs series.

 

One reviewer on Amazon, cites this novel as being “the perfect blend of creative writing, art and history told in a breathtakingly educational manner in my opinion.” JJ Collins. I don’t know about all that. This is a good book—a better than average book. The author uses a real event in history as the setting for the novel and paints the picture of the time that the reader can believe—never having studied that era of history. There are things the author has to do in order to make the text relatable to a modern YA audience. One of the adult characters tells Kuini more than once, “You’re a mess, kid.” A textbook for history, I think not.

But then, I don’t think the author intended her work to be a textbook for a history class. Saadia, I believe, wanted to write an entertaining novel that serves as a coming of age for two boys. Granted, Coytl gets the extremely short end of the stick. Kuini is the hero. He’s braver and worldlier and—kids will love this—he gets to have sex. Not once, but twice! For parents who were entertaining buying this novel and are now shying away—it’s not graphic sex. If you have a 14-year-old that you were thinking of giving this book, he or she would have heard more at school or on television about sex than is shown in this novel. The bedroom door shuts us out, so to speak—thankfully (I know this is a historical work, but they are 15-year-olds).

The story is well written and action packed with a love story and characters that teens—even today—can probably relate to on some level. Boys or girls, this book contains something for every reader. The boys face real challenges, the sister faces a life she doesn’t control; war is coming and everyone has to fight whether they want to fight or not and they’re supposed to hate and distrust who they’re told to hate and distrust.

At the end of the novel, the world is on the verge of war and up in the air. There are times when a novel won’t feel like a complete story with a hanging ending but this one does. That’s not to say that the reader doesn’t have the need to know what happens next, I know this one does – but the ability to come away from a series read knowing you’ve just read a really good story is a priceless one.

The series through Book 4 – The Warrior’s Way (Pre-Aztec Series, Book 4) is out and ready for purchase.

RRR Note: After posting this review, the author e-mailed to let me know that her book is not of the YA genre—as it is a long series, she started the main characters very young. This book is still, in my opinion, suitable for a YA audience—and this 41-year-old reviewer liked it as well.

 

For more information about Zoe Saadia and her work, visit her website. You connect with Zoe Saadia on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter @ZoeSaadia. Series readers can track her books on FictFact.