Panther Queen by Amir Lane: Historical Context
In writing Panther Queen, I tried to incorporate some of the regional mythology and cultural history. The main character, Lenna Alvarez, is of Mayan descent, while the jaguar she adopts as her familiar came down from the Aztec Empire, even though the Aztecs weren’t quite as south as Brazil. Since the book explores Lenna’s connection to her new jaguar, there are a lot of references to the Aztec Warriors. Historically, the Aztec Jaguar Warriors were the elite soldiers who represented the jaguar spirit and the war god Tezcatlipoca. In Panther Queen, I took that representation literally and created a bond between the warrior and supernatural jaguars. Historical Aztecs could join the army at 17, though they weren’t until a true Aztec warrior until they had their first capture. Capturing a victim meant sacrificing them to the Aztec gods, which would result in glory for the warrior and a glorious afterlife for the victim.
The two recurring weapons in Panther Queen are the tecpatl knife and the maquahitl club wielded by Lenna and her nemesis. The tecpatl knife is a short, double-edged obsidian blade that was primarily used to cut the hearts out of human sacrifices to offer to the gods. The maquahitl club, a flat bat lined with obsidian shards, has been described as a retro chainsaw. Obsidian is an incredibly sharp stone that is approximately 12 times sharper than surgical steel. Both are formidable weapons in capable hands.