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.