In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D’Amato
In the Courts of the Sun is an interesting novel, built Frankenstein’s-monster-like from the elements of a Michael Crichton techno-thriller, Gary Jennings’ Aztec series, and one of Stephen Baxter‘s unique spins on time travel. I enjoyed the book, but it’s uneven. The book was written by artist Brian D’Amato and is the first in the JED DE LANDA two-book series.
The story is heavily character-driven, led by Jed DeLanda, a supremely intelligent, anti-social, hard-core gamer of Mayan descent. DeLanda is one of the few people in the world who can play an ancient Mayan game used to help see into the future. Capitalizing on the real-world 2012 doomsday popularity, D’Amato’s story places Jed in position to help decipher a recently discovered Mayan codex, and play his game to help unravel mysterious clues about the end of the world as predicted to take place on December 21, 2012.
Jed, connected through an insanely rich man and his organization, is given a chance to go back in time to find the author of the codex which predicts this 2012 doomsday. He’s not actually going back in time, himself, but his consciousness is transferred to an individual in 664 AD. The original target for Jed’s consciousness is the ruler of the Mayan city of Ix. Instead, Jed2 (as the consciousness part of Jed is referred to) misses the target and is placed in Chacal, a champion Mayan ball player who’s been selected as a sacrifice in place of the Mayan ruler.
About one-third of In the Courts of the Sun takes place in 664 AD in Central America and Mexico with Jed2 narrating his search for the author of the codex and how he might be able to play the game and determine the details surrounding the foretold 12/21/12 holocaust. Jed2’s narration is sandwiched between Jed’s narration leading up to the consciousness time travel and its aftermath.
The story is carried by a heavy amount of Jed’s inner monologue, which at times is quite good and insightful. I was particularly appreciative of his well-stated rants of self-actualization, and his introvert’s perspective on other personality types. Jed’s very snarky, which at times was wonderful at lightening the mood, but at other times was a little grating and rambling. He spends a good amount of time detailing the Game.
The conclusion of In the Courts of the Sun is disappointing. I don’t know how else to put it. I’m a big fan of exploration-era history and historical fiction, but haven’t brought myself to read the second half of the series, which was originally promoted as a trilogy. I’m guessing between editing needs and driven by low sales, the series was reduced to only two parts.
I’ve noticed that books written by people who identify primarily as artists tend to be far more character-driven than plot-driven; is this your experience, as well?
Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve read any other books by ‘artists’. Wayne Barlow wrote a novel based on Dante’s Inferno. He’s an artists who’s done some very cool, dark fantasy art. I sampled it but couldn’t get past the first chapter. So not sure if it would’ve ended up character-based. https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Demon-Wayne-Barlowe-ebook/dp/B004N635WM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471955196&sr=1-1