“We’re not meant to know the mind of the gods.”
I received this book from Netgalley in exhange for an honest review.
This book is set just after the assassination of Julius Caesar and follows its numerous consequences of the Roman Empire, now divided between Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son and Caesarion, Caesar’s ‘real’ son. This rivalry is going to shatter the Empire and pull it into a giant civil war taking place from Rome to Alexandria and the coasts of Greece.
The book follows a cast of mainly five characters, each very different yet incredibly relatable. We meet Caesarion, Caesar’s son trying to protect his family from the wrath of Octavian, Cleopatra Selene, Cleopatra’s daughter with Mark Anthony, a ten years old smarter and braver than almost everyone, Juba, a Numerian prince adopted by Caesar whose trying to free his country no matter what, Lucius Vorenus, a Roman veteran now working for Mark Anthony and finally Didymus a Greek scholar whose loyalties are uncertain.
Even if the cast of characters is pretty big for 400 pages book, we learn to know them all incredibly well. All the characters are well fleshed out and multidimensional. Livingstone’s writing style allow us to be pulled into a fascinating period of history without any confusion while adding elements of fantasy with magical artefacts. The whole mythology surrounding the Shards was incredibly interesting to read about and never felt heavy and difficult to understand. I read this book in three days and I never wanted to put in down, one time I stayed up pretty late because I was so engrossed that I did not see the time fly at all.
“It’s true that the responsibility of knowledge is not something to be taken lightly. Not everyone is ready for the truth about their world, or even about themselves. But it doesn’t follow that the truth should be hidden forever […] I think there may be times when the circle of those asked to harbor the truth must grow, for the greater good.”
As a child, I was always fascinated by the Roman Empire and the Ancient Egypt and reading about this period of history again made me really happy. The only downside to that was that I already knew important plot point since if you don’t count the elements of fantasy, the book remains very close to what we know of the history of this time. But we can’t really blame the author for doing his work since he’s an historian. 😉
The Shards of Heaven was a great read and if the idea of reading about the Roman Empire with magic artefacts interest you, you’ll probably love this !