Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Gates of Hell (The Shards of Heaven, #2) by Michael Livingston

The demons of the internet have eaten my review two times now, which is really not very nice, especially since this is a book I looked forward to reading, enjoyed while reading, and looked forward to telling the online world. (insert swearword of choice, because all of them have probably gone through my head, when I realized my first review was gone, and when the replacement review blinked away before my eyes.)  But back to the point:

When last seen by the reader, the characters from The Shards of Heaven had seen better times. Antony and Cleopatra are dead, their children held captive by Octavian, probably the only character in the book having a good day.  As Caesarion and his companions carry the Ark of the Covenant through secret tunnels to bring it to safety, they meet misfortune, battle, a cave-in and shard enhanced battle with Juba of Numidia. It was very much of a cliffhanger.

The dust has settled a bit in the The Gates of Hell. Selene and Juba, despite a forced marriage have found joy together. The peace in their relationship is threatened as Juba is called by Octavian to once again wield the Trident of Poseidon to defeat Rome's enemies. And that's just the start of things.

Once again, Michael Livingston has taken history, and tucked a little fantasy and supernatural into the crevices and crannies of known time. As a reader, this delights me no end. Livingston's writing is crisper, sharper in this second book, helping the mind create clear depictions from description. His characters have grown also, exhibiting a complexity very true to life. The tug of good and evil forces, whether in a battle or within an individual, helps bring even more humanness to both the heroes and villains of the story. The tale begins in Rome, then heads on a journey through the old world, to the waters of the Nile, to even the very Gates of Hell, all with history, intrigue, and a little magic.  And yes, I did cheer out loud at a few happenings, and laugh at the Easter eggs I caught. All in all, it was a good adventure.

2016-read, advanced-reader-copy, alternate-history, great-cover, made-me-look-something-up, met-or-know-the-author, part-start-of-a-series, read, secret-history, taught-me-something, thanks-for-the-map, tor

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