The Highlander by Zoe Saadia

downloadTitle: The Highlander

Author: Zoe Saadia

Genre: Historical, Action & Adventure

Series or Standalone: Book 1 in The Rise of the Aztecs series


Born in the Highlands, Kuini thought his life was simple. You hunt and you fight, defending your towns against the raids of the Lowlanders and then raiding their lands in turn. His father was the Warriors’ Leader, and he wanted to be just like him.

Yet, Texcoco, the mighty Capital of the Lowlands, seemed incredibly beautiful, sparkling, its pyramids magnificent. A friendship with the Lowlander boy, the First Son of the Texcoco Emperor, seemed harmless in the beginning. They were just boys, and their clandestine meetings were always fun, providing great entertainment.

However, on the day Kuini agrees to finally enter the magnificent city, it would all change. He expected to get into trouble, but he could not foresee the extent of the trouble and, worst of all, he did not expect to uncover hidden secrets concerning his own family.



I do’t read much historical fiction, but this one grabbed my attention because I have always been fascinated by ancient civilizations like the Aztecs.

I enjoyed the book’s plot, though it was a bit predictable at times, especially with regard to the relationship between Kuini and Iztac.  The actions scenes were well-written, with a fair amount of blood and violence, without being over-the-top.  I especially liked the twist that the author provided at the end of the book, and the moral message that was addressed.

All of the main characters and many of the secondary characters were well-developed, each with their own strengths and flaws.  The relationship dynamics seemed solid and true to life.  The book’s dialogue was well written, though there were a few times that I questioned some phrases used as they seemed to be of a contemporary nature.

While I enjoyed the characters and the plot of the novel, I was a bit disappointed at the lack of cultural information about the ancient civilizations depicted in the book.  Some cultural information was provided, but it was minimal.  I think that more cultural information woven into the fabric of the story would have really made the book come alive, and would have moved it beyond being just an action and adventure novel.

Bottom line: While this was a fun book to read, it could have used some additional cultural information, which I feel would have given it a more authentic feel.


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