In 1990 Orland resident Ronald Petty explored the Mayan temple Xunantunich, "in Belize, near Guatemala," he writes, pronounced "SHOO-nahn-TOO-neech." Later, as an encouragement to his daughter, facing an illness that would take her life, Petty wrote a story about a Mayan princess, also afflicted, who must find the meaning of her days.
That story has become "War Star Rising! The Legend of Toucan Moon" ($15.95 in paperback from Star Publish LLC), a young adult novel set in the year 850, in the Yucatan Peninsula, with a decidedly contemporary sensibility. Petty, writing under the name ZooDoc (www.zoodoc-stories.com), tells of a peasant girl named Honeybee chosen, with her widowed mother, as the new family of the great emperor Kamenkamen. Honeybee is renamed Toucan Moon after the moon goddess provides another sacrifice in place of the child. The young princess, approaching her teenage years, is about to change Mayan civilization.
The author will be signing books this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at the Chico Barnes and Noble store; the public is invited.
"War Star Rising!" (the reference is to the ascendency of Venus and an impending attack from a nearby Mayan kingdom) is billed as a "historical fantasy adventure." In ZooDoc's imagined world the great beasts, the jaguar and the condor, watch over the affairs of humans. It is a world in which Toucan Moon, who has gained the love of her adoptive father, can convince him that the will of the gods is for a "new law."
"I think human sacrificing is barbaric!" she tells her nursemaid. "That is why we constantly have wars, do you not know? To enrich the plundering victors and to gather slaves for hard word and sacrifices. . . . I remember how awful it was to find out that the father of my best friend was killed in some stupid war, or the mother of someone was sacrificed to appease the sun god, and everyone said it was . . . so stinking honorable."
Honeybee herself is subject to terrible seizures, and must journey to the Cave of the Wise One to find the meaning of her remaining days. The legend ever after tells of a brave princess who found "lasting peace for the chosen ones who show love."