Until I finally started using this book (I've had my copy since December, but haven't been able to return to studying Maya History until now), I would have recommended Schele and Friedel's _Forest of Kings_ (1990) as the best synthesis of Maya History. Though _Forest_ is out of date, it did a remarkable job at establishing a general idea of what Classic Maya history was all about (I'm not sure I want to use the word paradigm here). But with _Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens_, Martin and Grube have achieved two great things.
First, they have finally provided a good public accounting of their work on the Calakmul alliance. The piecing together of Calakmul's history and political structure from the rest of the Maya lowlands is truly an important key to understanding Maya political evolution.
Second, they have produced a first rate synthesis of Classic Maya history, at a time when some of the pieces are really falling into place. This is an evident strength of the book. While the chapters on the Late Classic city-states (Yaxchilan, Copan, etc.) are informative, up-to-date, and useful, they primarily fill out a picture of squabbling city states that has been understood for some time.
But it is in the first half of the book, dealing primarily with the conquests of Tikal/Teotihuacan (a connection only now being revealed with any sense of understanding) and the rival alliance built by the city of Calakmul during the 4th-7th centuries AD, that this book truly shines.
The systematic presentation of information on the rulers (especially the listing of names used previously by other Maya historians and archaeologists) will be of incredible utility to anyone trying to understand Maya history. On the subject of names, Martin and Grube are definitely up to date on using phonetic readings for as many names as they can, though I am sometimes skeptical of phonetic readings that do not spell out known words. I do think that an extensive endnote section dealing with some of these readings (ala _Forest of Kings_) would be useful, but I also understand that such a section might not be appropriate for the series that _Chronicle_ is a part of.
Truly, my only complaint concerning _Chronicle_ would be that I wanted more (more sites, primarily). Assuming that Martin and Grube have built up a significant database of historical data in preparing this book, I for one would love to see a specialist work, sort of a "Maya Who's Who", on all known personages. But _Chronicle_ will be keeping me busy checking monuments and dates for quite some time. This is truly an important work, and one which will hopefully inform both Mesoamericanists and the general public about an important chapter in the history of the Americas.