Series: The Shards of Heaven #1
Published by Tor on November 24, 2015
Genres: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
The beginning of an epic historical fantasy that rocks the foundations of the ancient world
Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated on the senate floor, and the glory that is Rome has been torn in two. Octavian, Caesar’s ambitious great-nephew and adopted son, vies with Marc Antony and Cleopatra for control of Caesar’s legacy. As civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may shape the course of history.
Juba, Numidian prince and adopted brother of Octavian, has embarked on a ruthless quest for the Shards of Heaven, lost treasures said to possess the very power of the gods—or the one God. Driven by vengeance, Juba has already attained the fabled Trident of Poseidon, which may also be the staff once wielded by Moses. Now he will stop at nothing to obtain the other Shards, even if it means burning the entire world to the ground.
Caught up in these cataclysmic events, and the hunt for the Shards, are a pair of exiled Roman legionnaires, a Greek librarian of uncertain loyalties, assassins, spies, slaves . . . and the ten-year-old daughter of Cleopatra herself.
The Shards of Heaven reveals the hidden magic behind the history we know, and commences a war greater than any mere mortal battle.
I’m a big fan of alternate history, so I was excited to start THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN after reading its summary. Octavian and Juba and magic artifacts? Unfortunately, the book didn’t work for me, and I struggled to finish it.
THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN never reeled me in. There was no hook for me, maybe because it anytime important information was related, such as information about the Trident, it took place off the page. Only near the end of the book do we learn what a “shard of heaven is,” after being repeatedly teased. I really dislike when authors hide information from the reader over and over. There’s also a bit too much religious talk for me. Maybe I should have expected from the title, but I was still surprised to see it and read so much of it.
Most of the characters read as 2D instead of being fully fleshed out. Cleopatra is extremely beautiful and dramatic. Caesarion can do no wrong. Selene is feisty and adventurous. And so on. The only characters that read as real to me were two soldiers, Vorenus and Pullo. As for everyone else, I felt like they were plodding along, serving the story rather than being characters. However, I’m a character-driven reader.
THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN ended up being a forgettable book for me. One that I only pushed myself to finish because I was reviewing; if I’d read it for pleasure, I would have set it down after the first few chapters because of the slow pacing and dull storytelling.
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