About the Rise of the Sixth Sun series:
This series of books--beginning with Dark Winds, continuing through The Fire Within, Kaleidoscope Eyes, and now The Cloud Serpents--(and will continue shortly with Crystal Spiders) is based on the classic myths of the Aztecs of Mexico. These myths are nowhere near as well known to most Americans as the rather comparable mythology of the Greeks and Romans, the Scandinavians, and the Egyptians, but they are no less compelling once one becomes acquainted with them. I have been told on occasion that this is because the names of the gods and goddesses are "jawbreakers," but, once you know the fundamental pronunciations, Xochiquetzal is no more difficult than Nephthys, Tezcatlipoca than Hephaestus, or Tlaloc than Heimdall. They're just less familiar.
In writing these, I have tried to adhere to the spirit of the stories (at least as I see it) and to at least in a sense try to bring some sort of sensible order to the various versions of the stories. To be sure, if I were writing technical papers in Mesoamerican archaeology many of these would be a very long stretch indeed, but I'm not writing technical papers here, I'm writing novels.
The Aztecs, and the other tribes in ancient Mesoamerica, believed in cyclic history; that is, whatever happened before would happen again, perhaps with a few variations, but about the same in the end. What I have done, then, is to try to recycle the events of the ancient Aztec myths in the modern--or relatively modern--world. At times is isn't quite "current," because the times--the years--have a significance of their own. The Aztec year Ome Acatl, for example, is when we learn whether the world has another complete cycle--52 years--remaining to it, and that year, according to my calculations, is 1975. The year Ce Acatl, when by tradition events leading to major change take place, is 1987, and there won't be another Ce Acatl year until 2039. Therefore the major parts of the novels The Fire Within, Kaleidoscope Eyes, The Cloud Serpents, and Crystal Spiders, must necessarily be set in the late 1980s. Dark Winds, being a prequel to these, must be set back about 20 years--and therefore is set in 1969 (for more details on the calendar and how years are named, see the Mesoamerica section on my website).
The Fire Within is the centerpiece of the earlier books, recounting, in modern terms, Quetzalcoatl's journey through the underworld, a myth as familiar to the Aztecs as the quest for the grail is to modern Western culture. I won't detail it here--that would spoil the story for those who have not read it. Dark Winds introduces the reader to Nikki Keeler (using the name Nikki Townsend in this time), who is the most consistent character in the series, appearing in all the books except for Kaleidoscope Eyes. It also introduces the reader to a variety of Aztec philosophical concepts that will be used repeatedly in the remaining volumes.
Except for the prologue, Kaleidoscope Eyes does not on the surface appear to have much to do with the Aztecs and their myths. But that prologue is basically a retelling of a common Aztec myth concerning the mother goddess Tonantzin, and there is a single paragraph in The Cloud Serpents which explains exactly how the stories are related.
The Cloud Serpents follows The Fire Within as a direct sequel. It retells, in modern terms, the well-known Aztec myth concerning the fall of their fabled city of Tollan, as engineered by Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror. The Cloud Serpents also recounts events critical to the backgrounds of the characters in The Fire Within, in particular a sequence of events in 1949 in a strange Mexican village called Huitznahuac, virtually all of which are taken from the mythology.
Crystal Spiders, another direct sequel to The Fire Within, does not follow quite the same pattern as the previous books. Although several of the standard Aztec myths are incorporated into it, it is more of a supernatural mystery, tying together many of "loose ends" left by the previous books, and, in the end, explaining why the world did not in fact end in December of 2011.
For maximum enjoyment, the books should be read in this order:
1, Dark Winds
2. The Fire Within
3. Kaleidoscope Eyes
4. The Cloud Serpents
5. Crystal Spiders
As will be quite obvious to the reader when he/she finishes Crystal Spiders, at least one more volume is planned in this series--possibly two if the final book, provisionally titled The Apotheosis of Danny Hudson, gets too long and involved.