The crown prince Acolmiztli is determined to see his kingdom of Acolhuacan flourish with art, innovation, architecture and poetry. But the war between Acolhuacan and Mexico grows increasingly fierce. When a brutal attack leaves his father dead and his mother and siblings missing, Acolmiztli escapes into the wilderness and takes on a new name: Nezahualcoyotl, which means “fasting coyote.” Faced with cruel enemies, natural dangers and haunting memories, Acolmiztli must choose to either embrace a new life or find a way to reclaim his kingdom.
The Prince and the Coyote is an intense and moving epic based on the life of Nezahualcoyotl, an influential and artistic Mesoamerican leader. Weaving history and fiction together, David Bowles fashions a rich story of political intrigue, ferocious battles, beautiful landscapes and the enduring hope of humanity.
The novel dares to be detailed and unflinching in its descriptions of violence and grief, while also luxuriating in depictions of natural beauty, man-made wonders and cherished relationships. Fast-paced prose is interspersed with expressive songs written by Acolmiztli that paint vivid pictures of his emotions as he grows from an idealistic child into an experienced, wise leader. Bowles gives Acolmiztli a sharp, honest voice that’s sure to draw readers in—whether by narration or song.
Just as the Temple of Duality stands high above Acolmiztli’s hometown of Teztcoco as a symbol of the coexistence of ideas, this nuanced novel challenges binary thinking. Acolmiztli’s tutor, Izcalloh, is a xochihuah, a queer gender in Nahua culture. Acolmiztli himself comes from two hostile kingdoms: His Acolhua father and Mexica mother risked everything to be together.
As Acolmiztli undergoes different life experiences, his perspectives on leadership, faith, death, sexuality and lifestyle shift. The Prince and the Coyote asks readers to reevaluate their preconceived notions and ultimately put love and respect for all humankind first. The story of Nezahualcoyotl comes to life in this breathtaking retelling that feels both legendary and human.