The Last Guardian of Mosh Chaltun is an interesting amalgam of mythology, mystery, action, and romance. The story is told from the point of view of Juan Guerro, a boy who is given the huge responsibility of guarding an ancient Mayan site in order to prevent the release of an unstoppable evil force. Juan has the potential to succeed, possessing the spirit of a Wolf that he can call up to lend him power in battle, but he lacks the knowledge required to control that power. Our anti-hero simply isn't sure what he's supposed to do, or why; his grandfather dies early in the story, before he can fully prepare Juan for what lies ahead. Juan is brave enough that he never falters from his duty, although as he grows into a young man he's more inclined take a detour from his destiny to flirt with the red-headed heroine, Kat. There is so much time spent on the sexual tension between the various characters, that Mosh Chaltun often reads like the halloween episode of a Spanish soap opera.
The book holds a complex maze (or is that maize?) of plots and subplots concerning who loves who, who is going to sleep with who, who is simply trying to advance their careers, and who is making a pact with the Lord of Death, Ah-Puch, to take over the world and destroy all that is good. Although on the whole the complexity of the characters adds welcome depth to the story, there are times in Mosh Chaltun where the soap-opera intrigue is at risk of overpowering the main plot, leaving the reader to wonder why everyone isn't more concerned about the impending onslaught of evil.
Author David Talon is obviously comfortable with archaeology, Mayan mythology, and both Mayan and Spanish culture, making Mosh Chaltun an interesting setting for the various dramas to unfold. You are immediately immersed in a broth of Mayan culture, floating about with the kind of richly detailed temples, mysterious artifacts, and ancient lore that would make Indiana Jones drool like pavlov's dog. To continue the soup metaphor, The Last Guardian of Mosh Chaltun is a stew that doesn't seem completely cooked: the writing is raw, with an abundance of grammatical, typographical and formatting errors that should have been caught in editing; the plot is involved, but not always believable; and some of the characters taste, well, flat. I can't help but draw a parallel between the main character, Juan, and the book itself: both are rough creations, uncertain of their potential. Left to simmer on the stove a bit longer, this could be a four-medallion book. As it stands, The Last Guardian of Mosh Chaltun earns 2.5 medallions for it's intriguing and detailed exploration of Mayan mythology.
The Last Guardian of Mosh Chaltun, by David Talon
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Cold Tree Press (November 5, 2007)