A Book of Mormon Adventure in the Land of the Maya
The story of how Mark Cheney came to write his historical novel, Mark of the Jaguar – a Book of Mormon Adventure in the Land of the Maya, is a convoluted one. After almost twenty years studying the Maya and visits to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and Central America, he has written many non-fiction articles for the Institute of Maya Studies (IMS) EXPLORER. His interest in possible connections between Mesoamerican studies and The Book of Mormon, a book about an ancient people in the Americas that was visited by the resurrected Jesus Christ, who was likely the white and bearded god, Kukulkan, revered by the Maya and other peoples, instilled in him a desire to write this book. The author’s daughter, Anika Ferguson, provided some of the more interesting artwork, including the cover art. Following is a summary of the book:
About 665 AD the young boy, Yax Kan, miraculously survives an attack by a black jaguar. He later loses his family and is the adopted grandson of his village’s shaman. Before the shaman, old Naz-Hani, dies he challenges Yax, then about twenty, to begin a quest to find lost truths about the white and bearded God, Kukulkan, of the Maya (later known to the Aztecs as Quetzacoatl).
Traveling far North to the ancient City of the Gods, Teotihuacan, he thinks he will find the answers he seeks, but meets dangers along the way, and more within this mysterious city. He also meets a girl like no other and a shy romance blooms.
After being threatened with death, he escapes into the southern Mexico area that is now known as Chiapas, and is captured by the ahau of Palenque, Kan Balam (ca. 685 AD), who puts Yax’s talents as a scribe, shaman and stone carver to the king’s own use. Moving from a slave to a position of respect in the king’s court he completes an imposing task and is given a great gift, a jaguar kitten, and an even greater gift, his freedom!
He continues throughout the Yucatan to the Caribbean coast, where his mission bears fruit with a spiritual experience that will change his life. He goes on to help others with his fully grown jaguar companion at his side. He rejoins the young woman he had met in Teo in Lamanai. Then the mythical crystal “Skull of Doom” in Lubaantun is exploited by evil men, and Yax must do what is needed to help those under its spell.
MARK OF THE JAGUAR is a story reminding us that God is mindful of those who earnestly seek Him, in whatever place, or whatever time they may be. It is a tale that reflects the personal beliefs of the author that Jesus Christ appeared on the American continent after his resurrection and ascension in the Old World, as described in the Book of Mormon.
Cover of book, watercolor by Anika Ferguson Drawing by Anika Ferguson of Kan Balam, aka Chan Balam, successor to Pakal of Palenque.