In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D'Amato is a unique doomsday thriller as well as a story of time travel. It's based on actual Mayan prophecy. D'Amato's writing is vivid and filled with technical detail and portraits of Mayan life and rituals.
Jed DeLanda, a Mayan descendant living in 2012, is a math prodigy who plays strategy games against his computer and profits from online trading. His former mentor contacts him about a newly discovered Mayan document concerning a game that predicts the end of the world. He's recruited to travel back to 664 AD to uncover how the end will come. His brain waves are sent through a wormhole into the mind of a Mayan king. But instead Jed arrives in the mind of a man about to become a human sacrifice.
The story is told through the protagonist, a believable hero. He's not always likeable but he does grow and change in the course of the story. He speaks in English, Mayan and Spanish and his voice is sometimes hard to follow but he manages to convincingly describe his every sense with insight and humor. A glossary is included to help the reader.
Mayan history, future technology, pulse-pounding action, game theory, politics and a bit of romance - it is an impressive start to the trilogy. The author has obviously done his research and he provides plenty of detail. Sometimes the pace plods and sometimes it's chaotic but all in all a gripping adventure that should have readers clamoring for book two.
Publisher: NAL Trade (November 3, 2009)
Paperback: 704 pp.