The Gates of Hell

the-gates-of-hellAuthor: Michael Livingston

Series: The Shards of Heaven #2

Publisher: Tor

Release Date: November 15, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Livingston’s second shard novel is even better than the first!

Time has moved on. Augustus Caesar has had his triumph over Cleopatra and Mark Anthony.  Their daughter Cleopatra Selene has been wed to Juba II as a show of triumph for Juba, even though he wants nothing to do with his adopted brother Octavian.  Fortunately, Selene and Juba fall in love with each other making their union a blessed one.  However, prior to the wedding, in an effort to thwart Octavian, Selene convinced Tiberius to sneak her into the Temple of the Vestal Virgins to recover a statue that had been taken, but she was actually after a shard from heaven.  Once she touched it, she managed to use its power, but ended up creating many questions from Tiberius.  Together can she and Juba manage to stay away from using this power to destroy Rome?

Meanwhile in Alexandria, Lucius Vorenus has returned to seek out his old friend Didymus to discuss the possibility that the Ark of the Covenant is losing its power. After the meeting, he is targeted by a group of people who overhead about who he is and what he has.  The attempt fails and he is reunited with an old friend that the thought dead.  Together they travel to the Island of Elephantine where the Ark is currently being housed and protected by Caesarian and Hannah.  When they learn of the breach, they decide that it may be best to move the Ark.  Unfortunately, Kush decides to attack Rome at this time and burn the Island of Elephantine.  Can they manage to get away with the Ark before it is too late?

If you enjoyed the first novel in the series, then you will love the continuation. This book really dives more into Selene and Juba’s relationship and the potential power that the two of them have with the shards they have collected.  Octavian has also taken on more of a melancholy role, but his stepson Tiberius reprises the role of villain throughout portions of the story.  I was very excited to read this novel and I couldn’t find time to stop until I had it finished.

The book follows four main story lines: Selene and Juba, Vorenus, Caesarian and Hannah, and Thysallus. Each is somehow connected to the shards and/or the Ark (which is technically a shard as well).  One of the things I love most about this series is how Livingston is blending history as well as fantasy.  There are times that I have to go back and read up on a particular event to see how it parallels to the book.  Granted, I also love the fantasy part as well.  Without the shards of heaven, it would just be a good story.  With the shards, it is a great story!

There is some mild language in one or two places as well as a rape scene. I would recommend this book for mature YA readers up to adults.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

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