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The Goldsmith's Daughter    by Tanya Landman order for
Goldsmith's Daughter
by Tanya Landman
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Tanya Landman, author of I Am Apache, now takes readers south to ancient Mexico in a time of catastrophe for the Aztec Empire, as Spanish adventurers arrive on its shores, hungry for gold and conquest.

The story starts fifteen years earlier when Itacate and her twin brother Mitotiqui are born to a goldsmith and his peasant wife in Tenochtitlán, ruled by Emperor Montezuma. Their mother dies giving birth to them. A golden future is foretold for Mitotiqui but the priests predict that Itacate's life will be worthless and she will bring ill fortune to those closest to her.

Itacate grows up frustrated by the limits on her life - forced to cook and clean and weave while her brother attends school and assists their father with his craft. But one day, Itacate's father, whose eyesight is weakening, discovers that she has inherited his talent and secretly trains her as his apprentice. Soon her skills surpass his own.

This makes her brother jealous. When fate gives Mitotiqui what he sees as the opportunity to shine in his father's eyes, he lies and becomes the new Tezcatlipoca ... the youth who will 'live the life of a god until next year's sacrifice', and a great honor for his family.

After Itacate's work catches a nobleman's attention, her father is summoned to create special statues for the Emperor himself - his daughter accompanies him and secretly prepares the statues, making one in the image of a blue-eyed, bearded youth of whom she had dreamed. Then the Spaniards arrive and that same young soldier is amongst them.

We see the destruction of what was once one of the world's greatest cities through Itacate's eyes and mixed emotions - she gradually falls in love with Francisco and hopes that the Spaniards' presence might save her doomed brother. But though there is death all around her as foretold at her birth, Itacate eventually realizes that she was not the cause of the disaster, and is freed from her lifelong curse.

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