Mists of Palenque Series
Four Books About Great
Mayan Queens of Lakam Ha
Historical fiction about the powerful Mayan queens of Palenque (ancient Lakam Ha) who shaped their people’s destiny.
The stories of these remarkable women rulers lay buried for centuries under crumbling ruins lost in misty tropical jungles in southern Mexico. They were four of the most powerful women in the Americas, but few have heard of them. These strong women propelled the Palenque dynasty to heights of power and creativity, bringing their city to its apex during the Classic Period (500-700 CE). While living in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, I became fascinated by these remarkable women and studied what is known of their histories. Carved images of them on panels or pillars, portrayed as ancestors or in the act of conveying symbols of rulership to their sons, sparked my curiosity. Hieroglyphic passages on several panels spoke briefly about their positions in the Palenque dynasty. It was enough to capture my imagination. I wanted to tell their stories, as richly and fully as possible, so a broader readership than archaeologists would know about them. This series about the great Mayan Queens is the result. Each queen is brought to life in her own book, following historic and archaeological facts as much as possible. To create interesting plots and flesh out their personalities, I added fictional characters and events. This involved a good deal of creative imagination; the motives and emotions and reactions of these characters, both actual and fictitious, are my interpretations. It is akin to reading between the lines of cryptic glyphs and evidence left in stones. I sincerely hope you enjoy these stories, learn something valuable about their advanced civilization, and come to admire the ancient Mayas as a brilliant and sophisticated people.
“Heart of the North Wind” was the first Mayan woman who ruled in her own right. She was the last of her lineage, the only child of Kan Bahlam I, descended through the Jaguar (Bahlam) Dynasty of B’aakal. Her accession carved a new glyph in Maya history. A gifted visionary since childhood, she used her intuition to overcome political opponents and anticipate enemy attack. Despite betrayal and vengeance, through court intrigues and personal crises, she preserved her dynasty and found a deeply satisfying relationship that sustained and supported her.
“White Resplendent Quetzal” was the daughter of Yohl Ik’nal and became the second woman ruler of Palenque. She acceded to the throne after Lakam Ha suffered a devastating attack from arch-enemy Kan (Kalakmul) that threw the city into chaos. Channeling the persona of Muwaan Mat, Mayan Primordial Mother Goddess, she overcame rebellious nobles and steered her people through spiritual crisis following collapse of the portal to gods and ancestors. She retained rulership until her son was old enough to accede. K’inich Janaab Pakal I, “Sun-Faced Lord Shield” was her son, now the most famous Mayan ruler known. In 1952 his tomb in the Temple of Inscriptions was excavated, the richest Mayan burial found, compared to Egypt’s King Tut. Sak K’uk and Pakal forged a special relationship through their trials that proved to be both a blessing and a curse.
“Accumulator of Rulers” was Pakal’s wife. A shy, homely girl from a neighboring city, chosen for her noble bloodlines and political affiliations, she was overwhelmed by the sophisticated and complex society of Lakam Ha. She struggled to prove her worth to the jealous Queen Mother (Sak K’uk), while competing for Pakal’s heart. Bearing Pakal four sons who assured dynastic succession, she established her place in court and provided inspiration as the ruler restored spiritual portals and launched a creative zenith. She is the “Mayan Red Queen” whose tomb was discovered in Temple XIII, next to Pakal’s temple.
“Sun-Possessed Cormorant” was Pakal’s daughter-in-law, married to his fourth son. From this union came the only surviving descendant, continuing the Palenque dynasty. Controversy surrounded her relationship with Kan Bahlam II, Pakal’s first son whose brilliant calendar creations formed the basis for retaining elite power. She became her son’s primary counselor, helping him deal with rapidly changing power structures as nobles gained more control over governance. Foreseeing the coming collapse of Classic Maya civilization, she mobilized resources to preserve their cultural heritage for future generations.
The four queens guided Lakam Ha through times of turmoil and tragedy into a golden age when their city became the vortex of Mayan culture. With courage and determination they faced personal and political challenges to win the hearts of kings, the admiration of their people, and to assure their royal dynasty.
More about each great Mayan Queen on their own book pages.