The Seventh Sun by Lani Forbes is one part romance, one part apocalypse, and several parts entrancing mysticism with a backdrop of blended Mayan and Aztec legends.
We’re here to reveal the beautiful cover for The Seventh Sun by Lani Forbes, as well as give you a sneak peek at the book in the form of an intriguing excerpt that ends on a frustratingly great cliffhanger.
The cover, seen below, features a sacrificial blade dripping with blood. Once you read the excerpt, it’s immediately obvious why this striking image was placed on the front of the book.
Behind it, in gold, is an ornate circle that certainly drums up images of a glowing sun. You don’t have to look any further than the title to understand why this also made the cover.
Put together, this ornate and enigmatic cover is certainly captivating. And just wait until you read our exclusive excerpt!
Read an exclusive excerpt from ‘The Seventh Sun’
“Seriously, Mayana. I know you want to make Father proud more than anything, and you know the best way to do that is to just do the sacrifice.”
Mayana grimaced and turned to walk away. “Of course I want to make him proud. But forgive me if I don’t enjoy butchering animals because some ancient ritual says it protects us from—”
Chimalli grabbed her by the upper arm and pulled her back rather roughly.
“Don’t ever let Father hear you say that. You have a tender heart, but you need to learn to silence it and do your duty to your people.”
Mayana yanked her arm back, her cheeks burning again. “I know. Believe me, Father’s already made his thoughts on the matter clear.”
“So why won’t you just do your duty without such a fight?”
Something hot and angry writhed in her gut. “I am doing my duty. I am leading the prayers, the dances …”
“And you will lead tonight’s sacrifice to appease the gods.”
“Why don’t you go jump off the temple, Chimalli?”
Her brother gave her a long warning glare before wiggling his eyebrows and disappearing after a group of giggling merchant daughters. She crossed her arms and stuck out her tongue at his retreating form.
The anticipation of the evening’s coming events soured her against any kind of frivolity. Her twin brothers, Achto and Aquin, each twenty cycles old, tried to get her to pole fly with them — a request she quickly rejected. Dressed as birds, with ropes tied around their feet, her brothers jumped from the top of the high pole and swung in circles around it, suspended by their ankles. Exactly fifty-four revolutions in honor of the calendar stone. She shook her head with a shudder, imagining the pounding in their skulls from being upside down for so long. All the gold in the capital would not be enough to make her join them. At fourteen cycles old, her other brother, Mati, should be busy playing with his friends or older brothers too. But Mayana guessed he was probably busy lurking around the temple reading and memorizing any codex sheet he could get his curious little hands on.
By the time the sun began to set and the shell horns signaled the return to the palace, she had followed the rituals exactly as the holy texts instructed. Her relief, however, was temporary. The real test of her conviction would take place before the feast.
“Mayana,” the lord of Atl greeted her when she took her seat on a cushion beside him. “How did today go?”
She could hear his hidden meaning: Did you follow the codex?
“I did my duty.” Mayana looked down at her knees.
“Your duties are not yet finished.” He dipped his chin and fixed her with a meaningful glare.
Her stomach churned. I have to do it, she told herself. It will be over soon.
Every member of the royal family, both immediate and extended, filled the central botanical garden of the palace. Mayana’s five brothers sat circled around her and her father, while her aunts, uncles, and cousins branched out in rings like those on the sacred calendar stone. The empty space beside her father drew her attention for the briefest moment and her throat tightened — Mayana didn’t want to think about her mother.
“Did you see the red comet in the sky?” a voice whispered close by. She turned to find the source of the comment, but with so many voices chattering, she couldn’t tell who had spoken. Goosebumps rose on her arms.
Royal guests from other city-states lounged on Atl’s finest cushions, sprinkled among the crowd like the drops of her blood on the sacrificial papers. Ceremonial feasts were as much a political event as they were religious — a chance to show her family’s power and prestige. A man from the city of Ocelotl lounged nearby, the skin of a jaguar draped across his expansive shoulders.
Her palms grew moist, so she wiped them on the fabric of her skirt.
Servants meandered through the loud, sweaty crowd carrying small bowls of pulque, a fermented drink made from the sap of a maguey plant. Those too young for the pulque received a drink made of cacao. The codex dictated exactly what and when the Chicome could eat and drink during the ceremonies. The rest of the food would not be brought out until … well, until she fulfilled the next ritual.
Her father stood, and the babbling voices around them quieted. He spread his arms wide, embracing the crowd. His many ornaments rattled into the sudden silence. Mayana could smell the roasted meat and corn cakes waiting just out of view and her mouth watered in anticipation.
“My family and honored guests.” He nodded to the man from Ocelotl and several others. Mayana took a sip of her cacao drink and tried to stop her hands from trembling. “We are safe from floods and drought for another three months.” The room exploded into excited yells and exclamations before the lord of Atl hushed them.
“Let us now honor the Mother Ometeotl and the sacrifice her divine children made with a sacrifice of our own to bless the food we are about to eat. The great city of Ocelotl has brought to us a beast in honor of the month of the bird.”
Mayana’s father gestured to the visitor with the jaguar pelt. The man rose gracefully to his feet before gouging his palm with an obsidian blade much larger than Mayana’s tiny knife. He waved his bleeding hand in a great arc, and a flock of birds erupted through an open window. This did not surprise Mayana in the slightest. Royal naguals from the city-state of Ocelotl used their divine blood to possess and control the spirits of animals.
Birds swirled around the courtyard like a black-and-yellow raincloud, singing their hauntingly beautiful melodies. Their music stirred something deep within her heart. Tears pricked behind her eyes, but she held them back, knowing they would accomplish nothing. The crowd clapped and squealed in delight. Her little brother jumped to his feet and batted at the birds with his hands, but one look from their father quelled his excitement. He quickly returned to his cushion, head bowed in respect.
Lord Atl slowly paced toward the burning pit sunk into the center of the courtyard and motioned for Mayana to follow. She rose — still shaking slightly — and tightly gripped the wooden handle of her obsidian dagger. Holding onto something solid gave her strength. Saying a silent prayer to the Mother goddess, Mayana begged to be spared from the ritual, from causing a scene and disappointing her father again.
With the flick of the royal nagual’s finger, a single black-and-yellow bird broke away from the flock, landing delicately on her wrist. Mayana cupped the tiny creature in her other hand. The bird stared up at her with a glassy black eye, tilting its head as though asking a question. Her stomach dropped. She couldn’t do this.
Mayana looked at her father, tears building despite her best effort, and silently pleaded for him to stop her.
“Mayana.” The lord of Atl barely moved his lips. “You must.”
“Father–” Her voice broke. “Please.”
“If you do not, you risk the safety and well-being of the entire Chicome Empire,” he growled through gritted teeth.
“I did everything else. I did it all perfectly, Father.”
“We are not doing this again. You will do your duty this time, or so help me Mayana …”
She sucked in a breath. She hated sacrificing animals even more than sacrificing her own blood. At least her hand would be healed … unlike the bird’s throat. Her empathy toward the small creature was overwhelming, especially when she thought of her dog Ona and what her father had done to him. But she couldn’t refuse. Her mother wasn’t here to save her anymore.
This was her duty, no matter how hard her heart screamed in protest. Her father would force her hands to do it, just like he had last time. Hot tears slid down her cheeks, but she slowly lifted the blade of her knife toward the bird’s neck. She hated this ritual. Hated it.
At that moment, a man burst through the woven tapestry covering the main entrance. Mayana dropped the hand with the blade to her side, exhaling the breath she was holding. The newcomer was dressed in a white cotton cloak that glittered with golden thread. The flaps of his loincloth hung to his knees and jingled with tiny bells. Upon his dark hair sat a headband of small yellow feathers, reminding Mayana of a cockatoo with yellow plumage.
Everyone in the room recognized the colors at once. This man was from Tollan, the golden capital born from the first darkness — the City of the Sun.
He gripped the stone frame of the doorway, leaning against it and panting hard. The crowd waited, the silence in the room thicker than corn cakes. A feeling like cold water rose in Mayana’s chest. She felt as though she was drowning.
Whatever news he held, it would not be good.
About ‘The Seventh Sun’
The sun of the Chicome people has been destroyed six times. First by water, then by storm, fire, famine, sickness, and beasts. After each apocalypse, the creator goddess allowed one of her divine children to sacrifice themselves to save civilization. The gods paid their blood as the price for the lives of the people, and the people owed them blood in return.
Mayana is a noble descendant of the water goddess and can control water whenever her blood is spilled. She has always despised the brutal rituals of her people — especially sacrifices. She can’t even make it through a routine animal sacrifice without embarrassing her family. Prince Ahkin has always known he would be emperor, but he didn’t expect his father to die so suddenly. Now he must raise the sun in the sky each day and read the signs in the stars. But the stars now hint at impending chaos and the sun has begun setting earlier each evening. Ahkin fears he might not be strong enough to save his people from another apocalypse. And to add to his list of worries, he can’t truly become emperor until he selects a wife.
Mayana and six other noble daughters are sent to the palace to compete for Ahkin’s hand. She must prove she is a true daughter of water and face the others who have their own magical gifts from wielding the elements to the control of animals, plants and healing. And in a society centered on rigid rituals, Mayana must conceal her traitorous beliefs because if she doesn’t make Ahkin love her, she will become a ceremonial sacrifice to bless his marriage. But darker forces are at play and it won’t matter if Mayana loses if the world ends first…
Rich in imagination and romance, and based on the legends and history of the Aztec and Mayan people, The Seventh Sun brings to vivid life a world on the edge of apocalyptic disaster.
The Seventh Sun goes on sale in February 2020. Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads!