When a crystal skull is discovered beneath the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico, it ignites a cataclysmic chain of events that maroons SG-1 on a dying world.
Xálotcan is a brutal society, steeped in death and sacrifice, where the bloody gods of the Aztecs demand tribute from a fearful and superstitious population. But that’s the least of Colonel Jack O’Neill’s problems. With Xálotcan on the brink of catastrophe, Dr Daniel Jackson insists that O’Neill must fulfill an ancient prophecy and lead the planet’s people to salvation. But with the world tearing itself apart, can anyone survive?
As fear and despair drive Xálotcan into chaos, SG-1 find themselves with ringside seats at the end of the world.
This was the first novel I wrote for the series. I had always felt that the pre-Columbian pyramids were an aspect of Stargate that had not been fully explored, so this story was a perfect follow-up to the Season 3 episode, Crystal Skull. I incorporated aspects of Mayan and Aztec mythology based on the original codices written by the Aztecs plus those interpreted by Spanish priests. The Aztecs pinched most things from the Mayans, and never met a deity they didn’t like to adopt into their pantheon. This doubtless caused no end of confusion amongst their hapless worshippers – check out Godchecker.
Remarkably little is known about the builders of Teotihuacán, the City of the Gods. Under the baleful glare of my (then) six-year old daughter – I bribed her with cake – in 1992 we walked the entire Avenue of the Dead and climbed the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacán. It was a remarkable and somewhat chilling revelation to see how the city skyline mirrors the surrounding mountains. Exploring the nearby caves and lava tunnels was also a little chilling. I defy anyone who spends time at Teotihuacán to not be awed by this extraordinary feat of urban planning and engineering. Thanks to that trip, I also acquired a very fine life-sized reproduction of the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull (below).
As to the volcanoes featured in the story, the ‘frying pan lake’ that Jack described is based on Waimangu, New Zealand, while everything else is largely based on the time I spent exploring and photographing Vanuatu’s volcanoes (also below), with, as usual, a huge helping of complete fancy.