A forest of kings : the untold story of the ancient Maya

by Linda Schele

Other authorsDavid A. Freidel
Paper Book, 1990



Call number

F1435.3 .K55S34 1990


New York : Morrow, c1990.


The recent interpretation of Maya hieroglyphs has given us the first written history of the New World as it existed before the European invasion. In this book, two of the first central figures in the massive effort to decode the glyphs, Linda Schele and David Freidel, make this history available in all its detail. A Forest of Kings is the story of Maya kingship, from the beginning of its institution and the first great pyramid builders two thousand years ago to the decline of Maya civilization and its destruction by the Spanish. Here the great historic rulers of pre-Columbian civilization come to life again with the decipherment of their writing. At its height, Maya civilization flourished under great kings like Shield-Jaguar, who ruled for more than sixty years, expanding his kingdom and building some of the most impressive works of architecture in the ancient world. Long placed on a mist-shrouded pedestal as austere, peaceful stargazers, the Maya elites are now known to have been the rulers of populous, aggressive city-states. Hailed as "a Rosetta stone of Maya civilization" (Brian M. Fagan, author of People of the Earth), A Forest of Kings is "a must for interested readers," says Evon Vogt, professor of anthropology at Harvard University.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Carmenere
The purpose of this book, written by scholars on the subject, Linda Schele and David Freidl, appears to be twofold. Firstly, to reveal or rather decode the hieroglyphs, of what they believe, are the stories left behind by kings and nobles detailing their dynastic rule and conquests throughout
Show More
Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Secondly, in using this information the author’s attempt to reconstruct/fictionalize scenarios of what may have taken place. Certainly, this imagery is helpful in attempting to understand the workings of the ancient Maya yet the skeptic in me wonders just how much of what the author’s envision is accurate.
A Forest of Kings has left this reader swimming, with her head barely above water, in a cenote of dates, names, conquests, conjecture, assumptions and speculation , sometimes asking more questions than there are answers. There is a life preserver, however, If anything, this book has me wanting to read more, question more and try to understand more of these silent warriors.

Would I recommend it…………….. Yes, but not to everyone. One really must have some knowledge and interest in the Mayan culture to get any enjoyment from this book. If you are a beginner in this area I would recommend Stephens and Catherwood’s Incidents of Travel in Yucatan for an interesting overview.
Show Less
LibraryThing member tarliman.joppos
Excellent source material for my rolegaming campaign. Well organized, clear and lucid prose, and free of the woo that has so tragically infected Central American studies.


Original publication date


Physical description

542 p.; 26 cm


0688074561 / 9780688074562



Similar in this library

Page: 0.1436 seconds