CINCO PUNTOS PRESS
 
With roots on the U.S./Mexico border, Cinco Puntos publishes great books which make a difference in the way you see the world.
CINCO PUNTOS PRESS
childrens books
young adult books
poetry books
fiction books
non-fiction books
graphic novels
first concepts
featured titles

about us
customer service

social
Teacher's Resources
View & Print our Bilingual Catalog
View & Print our YA Catalog

<< Back to Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky

School Library Journal 1 Stars
“Vibrant and vital, this collection is an essential addition to library collections.”
A collection of Mesoamerican mythology chronologically recounts the origins of the world up to the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in Mexico. Each chapter of Bowles’s electrifying text begins with a convocation, in which the author explains the sources for his reworked tales, including the Popol Vuh, Florentine Codex, and the Codex Chimalpopoca, among others, coalesced to celebrate the connections in Mesoamerican history and storytelling traditions. Bowles adopts a narrative voice biblical in tone and scope but vibrant and lucid enough to appeal to an adolescent audience. The tales, filled with beautiful imagery and stark depictions of violence, feature a wealth of themes, including dualities in nature (all mankind arose from the “dual god”), rebirth, and the roles of women, making this title ripe for analysis and group discussions or self-exploration, as the reteller implores in his introduction. Also included in each chapter are codex-inspired illustrations that honor such artistry and align this collection along the same record keeping tradition. In addition to the back matter, there is also a pronunciation guide. VERDICT Vibrant and vital, this collection is an essential addition to library collections.
- Jessica Agudelo, New York Public Library, June 5, 2018  Visit Website
Kirkus Reviews 1 Stars
"Mexican-American Pura Belpré honoree David Bowles brings his passion and expertise to this new compilation of mythological tales from Mexico ... Despite the darkness that pervades most of the tales, Bowles' dense yet lyrical prose raises the narrative to a level suited to high mythological tradition and illuminates the foundations on which contemporary Mexican culture is laid."
Mexican-American Pura Belpré honoree Bowles (Chupacabra Vengeance, 2017) brings his passion and expertise to this new compilation of mythological tales from Mexico. Beginning as so many mythologies do, before the foundation of the world, Bowles weaves a chronological tale of creation and destruction, death and resurrection drawn from Mesoamerican sources. Early tales explore the failed attempts of humanity under the blazing sun or in terrifying darkness. Though human beings tenaciously gain a lasting foothold in a sea-ringed world, conflict and toil persist. The narrative continues through early pre-Columbian history and on through the Mayan and finally the Aztec empires as Bowles adds threads from Mayan, Toltec, Mixtec, and other Indigenous folklore traditions. From deep cenotes to frost-covered mountains, there are few hopeful or happy endings to be found. Rather, the specters of death, violence, vengeance, and blood sacrifice are ever present, which may turn away readers with less stomach for gore, though the mayhem is rarely gratuitous. Despite the darkness that pervades most of the tales, Bowles' dense yet lyrical prose raises the narrative to a level suited to high mythological tradition and illuminates the foundations on which contemporary Mexican culture is laid. Though an index is sorely needed, students of folklore will find a rich trove to mine here. A needed and worthy addition to any folklore collection. (pronunciation guide, glossary, source notes, bibliography) (Mythology. 14-adult)
- April 3, 2018  Visit Website
World Literature Today
A masterful storyteller, Bowles packs the richness of the Mesoamerican cosmos into every sentence, bringing to vivid life ancient characters who are by turns funny, heartbreaking, lovable, grotesque, and venerable. … Bowles’s Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky will be crucial to Mesoamerican literary and cultural studies as well as important to Mexican and Mexican American rediscoveries of effaced pasts for many years to come. Scholars and readers of mythology and folklore: add this to the classics.
We are always revisiting our myths. In Europe and America, attention to myth has historically bolstered claims to national and (white) racial greatness by drawing on the heritage of the robust mythic and folkloric traditions of Ireland, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Russia, and others transmitted orally and written down in epics and sagas, or penned by the fairy-tale collectors of the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Today, a vast field spanning both popular and literary fiction attends to continued retellings, pastiches, and subversions of the Euro-American myths; most recently, Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman won acclaim for their retellings of Norse mythology and the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales. Rarely, outside of Pantheon’s uneven Fairy Tale and Folklore Library, have the mythofolkloric traditions of Africa, Asia, Australia, and the indigenous Americas been given similar treatment.
Enter David Bowles, Mexican American novelist and translator of Nahuatl and Mayan. Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky is the most recent of Bowles’s several books that bring the folktales, myths, and poetry of Mesoamerican cultures to anglophone and hispanophone readers. With Feathered Serpent, Bowles has given us a rich, vast, and complexly woven tapestry of the heritage of stories that circulated in pre-Conquest Mexico. It is a compulsively readable account of the history of the “sea-ringed world” of Mexico from the formation of the very first entity, the dual god Ometeotl, out of the eternal life force of the universe, down through the creation of the many generations of gods and the four ages of human beings (all destroyed by infighting among the gods), and to the present of the fifth age of humans molded by Feathered Serpent, Divine Mother, and the many gods from the ground bones of the humans who came before. A masterful storyteller, Bowles packs the richness of the Mesoamerican cosmos into every sentence, bringing to vivid life ancient characters who are by turns funny, heartbreaking, lovable, grotesque, and venerable.
The book divides its history of the universe into seven sections that narrate the epochs of Mexico up to the conquest. The first three are cosmogony: how the gods and the order of things came to be, including a wealth of etiologies, from ultimate concerns with the purpose of human and animal sacrifice or the sanctity behind sacred sites; to natural and animal phenomena, like animal morphologies and habits; and the ordering of time, causes of eclipses, or spots on the moon (these caused by Feathered Serpent hurling a rabbit at the moon). At the heart of the story of the gods is the conflict between Feathered Serpent, creator and protector of humankind, and his brother, Heart of Sky (Hurricane/Tezcatlipoca), a tortured, jealous deity who seeks to destroy the people of Mexico in every age.
The final four sections tell of the human world, the world after the “Reign of the Demigods” and the exploits of great heroes, like the trickster Lord Opossum, Maya twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque, Mixtec archer Yacoñooy, and Aztec warriorHuitzilopochtli. These sections narrate the rise and fall of the Toltecs, the Maya, and the Aztecs, concluding in the final portion of the book with the coming of Hernan Cortés, which Bowles recognizes as the final triumph of Heart of Sky in his battle against Feathered Serpent and Mexico’s people. Yet all is not lost; at the end of the time of myth emerge new peoples of “palimpsest souls”: Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Chicanos.
More than a compelling work of narrative art, Feathered Serpent is a project in restoring and forging a mythohistorical identity for contemporary Mexican and Mexican American peoples from whom these stories were taken by the ravages of Spanish conquest, which included the burning of nearly all manuscripts recording Mexican mythologies. Bowles’s genre-defying book translates, recovers, retells, and pastiches histories and myths largely lost in the wake of colonialism. Here is the Mexican approximate of the Greeks’ Theogony, Iliad, and Odyssey, the Malinke’s Sundiata, the Hindus’ Ramayana, the Babylonians’ Enûma Eliš—a singular work of art, yet in conversation with the many voices who, over centuries, shared the stories that Bowles sutures into one. He offers new, engaging translations and retellings of scenes from what few sources remain, including Aztec codices, the Mayan Popol Vuh and Songs of Dzitbalché, and oral and folkloric traditions from a range of Mexican cultures, producing a mythic chronicle of Mexico that draws on Cora, Huichol, Maya, Mazatec, Mixtec, Nahua, and Otomi storytelling.
Feathered Serpent is a significant work toward the recovery of a pre-Columbian episteme of Mexico, arguing for an ethical relationship between humans and the cosmos, since it is humans’ good deeds (and sacrifices) that keep Xiuhtecuhtli (time and fire god) and Nanahuatzin (the sun) in motion. The prose is artful, often playful, leading the reader through worlds and times she will want to read more of. It is a needed infusion of teotl, of vital life force, into the study and circulation of world mythologies today. Bowles’s Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky will be crucial to Mesoamerican literary and cultural studies as well as important to Mexican and Mexican American rediscoveries of effaced pasts, for many years to come. Scholars and readers of mythology and folklore: add this to the classics.
- Sean Guynes-Vishniac, Michigan State University, May 1, 2018  Visit Website
La Bloga
David Bowles’ Feathered Serpent Dark Heart of Sky Myths of Mexico deserves to be a best-seller for all the right reasons: accessible, informative, essential. It’s destined to be the cultural anthropology equivalent to Occupied America for C/S majors.
David Bowles’ Feathered Serpent Dark Heart of Sky Myths of Mexico deserves to be a best-seller for all the right reasons: accessible, informative, essential. It’s destined to be the cultural anthropology equivalent to Occupied America for C/S majors.

Literary compilers will appreciate that Bowles translates primary source material to craft a unique narrative that could be the transcript of an ancient rhapsode reciting long into the night. In place of epic poetry, Bowles offers solid educational foundation in ancient Mexican beliefs in a conversational, one-to-many style. The subtitle on the cover reads "Myths of Mexico" while the publisher's webpage lists it as "The Origin Myths of Mexico." The latter is more explanatory.

The catechism-like voice of the narrator would get this book banned where books get banned. Belief underlies myth and this narrator speaks from belief about the ancients. That this narrator presumes readers share that belief is the most interesting element of an absorbing book. Mexican ontology grows out of a different paradigm and a reader can enjoy going with the flow. For other readers, the point of view will be reaffirming and delighting.

Seven “Convocation” chapters open each of seven thematic divisions. Themes include primordial origin stories, Toltecs, Maya, Aztecs, Conquest. The convening narrator introduces the theme, previews the content, qualifies the sources of the story. In the Convocation to the third theme, The Fifth Age And The Reign Of Demigods, the narrator relates.

We look into this distant past through the tales of the ancients ….words of the Aztec elders were themselves written down after the Conquest on the broad leatherbound pages of what we know today as the Florentine Codex and the Codex Chimalpopoca. Let us turn to those precious books, friends, casting our eyes from time to time as well as the Popol Vuh and that lovely collection of Maya verse from the heart of the Yucatan, the Songs of Dzitbalché.

The author makes no attempt at laying down a translation but clearly weaves what he’s learned into a narrative of his own fashion. One back cover blurb mentions Robert Fagles’ Iliad in the publisher’s endeavor to get readers to open this book and not be knocked on their nalgas at what Bowles is doing to them with this style.

The comparison to Fagles—or Lattimore’s—treatment in English of epic texts, fits David Bowles. Unlike the epics, Bowles’ material is little-known and then, fragmented. Here's a chance for readers to put it all together because it's here, in one place. Plus, there’s an excellent bibliography at the end, and a glossary that doubles as a name index when the multisyllable dieties start disputing.
- Michael Sedano, May 8, 2018  Visit Website
Avalinah's Books
Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky was a spectacular collection of myths, written in an easy to follow way, arranged chronologically, and truly epic enough to just read them casually, without the aim of education or research.
3 Reasons To Read Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky
Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky was a spectacular collection of myths, written in an easy to follow way, arranged chronologically, and truly epic enough to just read them casually, without the aim of education or research. The stories you will read start at the creation of the world and go onwards, throughout the times and spanning many different cultures (the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Toltecs and many more), telling their stories – how they came to be and how they perished. This collection ends with the last stories of the indigenous peoples of South America – the Spanish conquest, the loss of heritage and values. This is the story of the people, from their origins to the end of their story.

1. It’s Easy To Read
Have you read mythology collections before? I have. Most of them will put you straight to sleep. Many names, things you’re supposed to know beforehand, literary references to scholarly work… drowning in footnotes. Not the casual read for sure. But this book was released with a different idea in mind – Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky really WAS released for the casual reader – perhaps one broadening their horizons, or one looking for their roots. It’s easy to read and to follow, the stories are arranged chronologically, so you’ll just feel like you’re reading along through the centuries, as it slowly switches from gods conversing among themselves to kings and queens, and then to national heroes or traitors, and warrior princesses. Especially warrior princesses.

2. The Warrior Princesses
Oh my gosh, do we need to talk about that! I was SO pleasantly surprised to find so many amazing strong female heroines here! There are a lot, and I mean, A LOT of stories about strong women, fighter women, wise women – it’s not a narrative that’s present in Western mythology almost at all – so this was an incredibly pleasant surprise for me. Some of these stories I know I will remember for sure. One of the stories even teaches that being sexually passionate and free as a quality in a woman can absolutely walk hand in hand with a heart made of gold and purity of soul. Also not a narrative present in the Western stories at all. Which makes it all the more sad to know that these cultures were destroyed and replaced with our brilliant culture of muting, silencing, shaming, misogyny and crushing patriarchy.

3. It’s A History Of A People
Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky is both a mythical creation story, as well as the history of the Mesoamerican tribes – much like The Old Testament is to the Jews. In that way, it’s spectacular. I truly enjoyed the creation stories, as well as the earliest myths. The middle age stories of certain tribes rising to power I enjoyed less, as well as the Spanish conquest stories – those less so because it was just sad to read of these amazing nations being destroyed and subjugated. But all of these stories are equally worth attention – especially if you have any heritage in those cultural regions.
- Evelina Avalinah, May 15, 2018  Visit Website
MBR Bookwatch
A fully absorbing and inherently fascinating read throughout, Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico is an impressive work of simply outstanding scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of a two-page Pronunciation Guide, an eight-page Glossary, a four-page listing of Source Notes, and a two-page Bibliography.
Synopsis

The 34 folk stories and aboriginal myths compiled in Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky by University of Texas academician David Bowles deftly trace the history of the world from its beginnings in the dreams of the dual god, Ometeotl, to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and the fall of the great city Tenochtitlan.

In the course of that history we learn about the Creator Twins (Feathered Serpent and Dark Heart of Sky) and how they built the world on a leviathan's back; of the shape-shifting nahualli; and the aluxes, elfish beings known to help out the occasional wanderer. And finally, we read Aztec tales about the arrival of the blonde strangers from across the sea, the strangers who seek to upend the rule of Motecuhzoma and destroy the very stories we are reading.

These legends and myths captured Bowles's imagination as a young Latino reader. Despite growing up on the United States/Mexico border, he had never read a single Aztec or Mayan myth until he was in college. This experience inspired him to reconnect with that forgotten past.

Critique


A fully absorbing and inherently fascinating read throughout, Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico is an impressive work of simply outstanding scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of a two-page Pronunciation Guide, an eight-page Glossary, a four-page listing of Source Notes, and a two-page Bibliography. While strongly and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Mexican Mythology collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico is also available in a paperback edition and in a digital book format.
- August 25, 2018  Visit Website
Barnes & Noble
"An important, well-written, and compelling text that teaches us about a lost history and the rich and too often forgotten magic of various groups like the Aztec, Maya, and Toltecs."
Featured in Discovering Books that Reflect Your Culture By J. C. Cervantes, Author of The Storm Runner
While this book is recommended for 14 and up I have to add it here because I think younger kids will enjoy the mythology and folklore as well. So many of the stories took me back those I heard as a kid. An important, well-written, and compelling text that teaches us about a lost history and the rich and too often forgotten magic of various groups like the Aztec, Maya, and Toltecs.
- J. C. Cervantes, Author of The Storm Runner, September 17, 2018  Visit Website
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Book
“While certainly a treasure trove for storytellers, this is also highly valuable as a classroom resource for units on Mesoamerican history or examinations of how a place's myths are inherently linked to its history.”
"Bowles, Mexican-American author, translator, and Pura Belpré honoree, pulls from sources including Nahuatl and Maya texts and brings together the myths and history of Mesoamerica to create a cohesive narrative that moves from pre-Columbian creation tales all the way through stories of Cortés and the Spanish invasion. While many of the nearly thirty tales themselves can be used separately, Bowles' contextualization of the legends within the region's past provides a fuller picture of the rich cultures nearly erased by colonialism. Each section (representing either an era or specific people) begins with a "convocation," which can be either an invitation to celebrate the abundance and depth of the foundations of Mexico's cultural identity or, in some cases, a request to bear witness to its near destruction. While certainly a treasure trove for storytellers, this is also highly valuable as a classroom resource for units on Mesoamerican history or examinations of how a place's myths are inherently linked to its history. A pronunciation guide, glossary, notes on sources, and a bibliography are included, while a table of contents opens the collection."
- Kate Quealy-Gainer, September 26, 2018  Visit Website

books for kids | young adults | poetry | non-fiction | fiction | on sale | featured titles
submissions | about us | customer service | contact us | bilingual books
search | privacy statement | ©2001 - 2018 Cinco Puntos Press
Designed by
Stanton Street 

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution.