Pinochets and prolix Senecas--all of whom seek to ascend to the 2024 presidency by any means necessary, including murder. But the novel's most intriguing character by far is ex-President César Leon, known as the "Old Man Under the Arches." From his Veracruz central plaza café, he ostensibly mentors Nicolás Valdivia with political aphorisms and maxims, while putting current events within the grander narrative of Mexican history. But soon it becomes clear that the elder statesman seeks to undermine this member of the rising generation by making another bid for power himself. For all of this, though, Fuentes offers very little insight into Mexico City's political heart beyond what his readers already know themselves. "Politics," may indeed be "the art of swallowing frogs without flinching" or "the ability to manage groups of insecure men," but his characters' uninspired maxims do not reveal those aspects of politics specific to Mexico. The Eagle's Throne does not attempt to predict future events, although it certainly seeks to explain current ones. Its best moments have little to do with the narrative arc of Nicolás Valdivia's ascension to the presidency. Fuentes is at his best when, toward the novel's end, he recounts María and
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Mar 6, 2006
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