Set in November of 1519 following the arrival of Hernan Cortés in the Mayan empire controlled by Moctezoma, Arrows of Fire focuses on a warrior woman who could turn the tide of the invasion. Flower has been chosen by Moctezoma as a sacrifice for the God of War, but his obsession with this young girl leads him to question whether she should be killed or if he should keep her as his concubine. Through Flower readers are shown the brutality of not just the conqueror, but also of the leader of the people who he has set out to conquer.
With the Spaniards and their native allies under the orders of Cortés drawing closer to Moctezoma’s capital, the leader of the Mayan empire makes a decision to use the beautiful Flower as a means to gain protection. By having her act in the identity of a woman warrior she becomes the seemingly perfect way to bring about protection for this civilization under attack. What Moctezoma doesn’t know is that a resistance movement is rising that instead of sacrificing for seeming protection, they wish to actively fight against the incoming invaders. They have their own plans for Flower, but they must work quickly to ensure she is able to join their forces before the planned sacrifice.
The story within Arrows of Fire moves between characters with specific highlights on their lives. We are provided historical background into the Spaniards and Hernan Cortés as well as details into the life of Flower as well as Moctezoma. Flower’s journey is one of the more emotional as she is stolen from her home and forced to become part of a compound made to prepare women and men to act as representatives of gods. There is also an early story of a woman killed in the Inquisition in Spain that is heartbreaking and violent. As the story evolves we learn that while Moctezoma may be enamored with Flower that her ultimate fate is to follow in the line of many other sacrifices for the benefit of the entire Mayan civilization according to their rules. What could not have been expected is that the man training Flower wishes to ensure her survival. Flower is a remarkably resilient character who realizes that she can protect herself with the ceremonial training she has been receiving. The story is well balanced between the three primary voices and throughout Bodden provides a great deal of information and detail. Not only does she include her own reference notes, but she weaves this information into a rich story. You can find out more about Marlen Suyapa Bodden’s Arrows of Fire on her official website.