"... readers excited by a tour of this highly imaginative world will thoroughly enjoy the ride"– Kirkus Reviews
From debut author Davitt comes an epic novel based on a surviving Roman Empire.
Welcome to Edda-Earth, where magic and technology coexist. The Roman Empire holds power; in fact, rather than B.C. and A.D., dates are noted as BAC and AC: before the ascent of Caesar and after the ascent of Caesar, which separates their calendar from ours by 44 years. Sorcerers are as few as one in 1,000, while members of the Praetorian Guard are revered: “They were the single largest security and intelligence network on the planet, with jurisdiction in any client state or province of the Empire.” As members of the Guard, Adam (originally of the “Judean Defense Forces”) and Sigrun, a “god-touched” Valkyrie, are accustomed to being dispatched to far-off places. When a trend of illegal human sacrifices surfaces in locations throughout the empire, action must be taken, because “it is the policy of Rome…and has been for over fourteen hundred years, to allow subject nations freedom to worship their own gods, but with one caveat: that there will be no human sacrifices.” As Adam and Sigrun combine their talents with others under the direction of Propraetor Antonius Livorus, they must dig through belief systems, hostile groups, and a lingering fear that the end of the world is nigh. Davitt’s ambitious, detailed novel is awash with mythology, culture, and politics. At 800-plus pages, it’s also lengthy and complex, though streaks of action help keep the reader engaged: “His face was almost completely covered by the beast’s great mouth…and her sister lions moved in to tear at his struggling belly.” More than a mere adventure, the story succeeds in tapping into deeper ideas of religious tolerance and pluralism.
Though some may find themselves lost in the vast sea of gods, rituals, violence, and beliefs, readers excited by a tour of this highly imaginative world will thoroughly enjoy the ride.
Davitt (The Goddess Embraced, 2015, etc.), the author of The Saga of Edda-Earth novels, begins a new fantasy series about the “god-born” son of Caesar and Cleopatra.
Fifteen years ago, Julius Caesar survived an attempt on his life in Rome’s Senate Chamber. He made Cleopatra of Egypt his empress, and now their son, Caesarion, is the 18-year-old embodiment of Mars on Earth. When Caesar dies quietly in bed, however, those with plans to unseat the Julii family strike. Chief among them is their scheming cousin, Octavian, who invites Caesarion’s 13-year-old brother, Alexander, to his home at Palatine Hill. There, Octavian suggests that because Caesarion was born out of wedlock, he can’t legally rule, and so Alexander must step up. Though the Julii clan routes Octavian’s machinations, it isn’t without cost; Caesarion removes the illusory magic that hides his nigh-invincible god-form from mortal eyes. Later, Caesarion chases down the rebel families who might do the Julii harm (the Servilius, Tillius, and Cassius clans), traveling with soldiers down the Italian peninsula to Brundisium. He also brings along his reserved 13-year-old sister, Eurydice. As the bloody campaign proceeds, she displays the ability to see through the eyes of birds like hawks and owls, which proves indispensable when scouting the enemy’s placements. Davitt takes these two superpowered siblings on a grand, satisfying arc in the first novel of a new series. Although it isn’t initially apparent, the romance that blossoms between them—in the Egyptian tradition of sibling lovers Osiris and Isis—is a well-crafted thread that moves through a plot that covers about three years. Davitt’s clever prose is historically and culturally informative, as when readers learn that “An adult male could also enjoy a younger man, according to the Hellene ideal.” She also writes politically grounded lines about Roman rule in an alternate past filled with dragons and magic, such as when Caesarion tells Alexander, “The problem, brother, isn’t conquering the world. It’s holding it.” Overall, Davitt marries a fantastic amount of detail to her irresistible wit and superior characterization, resulting in a winning series launch.
A scorching alternate-history adventure packed with romance and fantasy action.