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The Queen Jadeby Yxta Maya Murray
Synopses & Reviews
The secret history of an empire
For centuries, explorers and scholars of the New World have been captivated by a legend involving the tragic life of a King, a Witch, and a giant blue jade stone whose beauty is intoxicating — a stone whose possessor is said to be granted a life filled with power — that stone is called the Queen Jade.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch tears through Central and South America. A mine of blue jade the size of Rhode Island is uncovered in a Guatemalan mountain range known as Las Sierras de las Minas. For hundreds of years, blue jade relics have been found in the Americas, but the actual source of the precious stone has never been discovered — until now. The revelation of the blue jade mine solves an archaeological mystery that has baffled scholars for centuries and gives hope to those who have staked their lives on finding the Queen Jade.
The novel unfolds on the eve of the hurricane and centers on Lola Sanchez and her archaeologist mother, Juana. Juana believes that she has discovered the key to unlocking the mystery of the Queen Jade and has gone into the jungle alone to find the stone — the same week that Hurricane Mitch ravages the land. When her mother disappears in the storm, Lola sets out to find her and embarks on a course of action that will lead to the adventure of her life.
"A trek through the Guatemalan rain forest helps a Mexican-American woman heal old family wounds — and solve a centuries-old archeological puzzle to boot — in this atmospheric, long-winded adventure story by Murray (The Conquest). Lola Sanchez, a 30ish Californian bookseller, is long accustomed to dispatching her difficult mother, Juana, on archeological missions to the 'jaguar-and-relic-filled jungles of Guatemala.' But this time is different: Hurricane Mitch has devastated much of the country, and Lola fears that her mother's quest to discover the 'magic queen of all jades' — a rare blue relic whose fabled power has obsessed centuries of European explorers — will lead her into dangerously flood-ravaged terrain. So she closes shop and heads for the rain forest, accompanied by Juana's academic rival, Erik Gomara, a paunchy lothario; her own intensely bitter ex-friend, Yolanda de la Rosa, who boasts expertise with a machete; and Manuel Alvarez, her frail, panicky father. These entertaining characters are all sharply drawn, and the depiction of the teeming jungle is breathtaking. But Murray is less successful at conveying the mythos of the Queen Jade and the history of its pursuit. Too much of the novel consists of the characters reading documents aloud to one another or pedantically lecturing. The repeat appearances of a menacing mustached soldier add zip to the plot, but seem forced and implausible, as does the family tree — altering conclusion in an amazing cave. Agent, Shana Kelly at William Morris. 5-city author tour. (Feb. 1) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Yxta Maya Murray is the author of The Conquest—winner of the Whiting Award—and The King's Gold, the second novel in her acclaimed Red Lion series. She is a professor at Loyola Law School and lives in Los Angeles.
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