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October 13, 2015

Gary Jennings' Aztec novel optioned for mini-series

by Jason Hughes, posted Aug 25th 2009 2:02PM
Aztec, by Gary JenningsEvery once in awhile, you come across something that reaches way back and scratches a memory you didn't now you had. This story did that. I remember years ago stumbling across Gary Jennings' massive tome Aztec. I had a thing for big, fat books; to me it felt like I was getting more for my money. Plus, I've always been a bit of a history buff, and so little was being discussed about the Aztecs in school.

So I dove into it, and the subsequent books in the series. It was fascinating and rich, and uniquely told. It is the biography of an old Aztec man as he told it to a Bishop. The Bishop, in turn, wrote the story in a series of letters to the Spanish King, and it is these letters that make up the chapters of the book.

The story was so unique and so uniquely told, I remember at the time thinking it would make a wonderful mini-series. And now, after all these years, that might just happen. Aztec has just been optioned for television as a possible mini-series. It's just too bad Jennings didn't live to see it.

Not only is it amazing to imagine such a rich culture coming to full-color moving life on the TV screen, but they're trying to get John Milius to adapt it. Milius is an Oscar-winning screenwriter for Apocalypse Now, which is impressive enough. But he's the co-creator of Rome, as well, and it's that pedigree that gets me excited about him here.

Rome was visually stunning in its authentic rendering of the Roman Empire, and Milius had a huge hand in that. If they can get him involved, man I can already see the Aztec Empire coming to life. I even like the idea of keeping the framing sequence Jennings utilized, with the old Aztec telling his story to a disgusted Bishop, supplemented with flashbacks through the eras of his life.

With Rome gone and The Tudors wrapping soon, I need this mini-series to not only happen, but to be amazing enough that they have no choice but to continue through the series. Then maybe someone can get really ambitious and start adapting the "First North Americans" series by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear. I need some good historical fiction on television. It's getting much too rare.

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I miss the days when the big three broadcast networks would do the massive mini-series that lasted a week or more ("Roots" and "Shogun" for example) because it gave you so much more of the actual story and characters. But that was then; now a "mini-series" is just a four-hour TV movie split into two nights, which in my opinion is NOT a mini-series. Those were the days.

August 26 2009 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I remember reading this book years ago, very compelling. Could definitely work as a "Rome" type limited run as long as they cast it with real actors and not celebutards.

August 25 2009 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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