Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Praetor War series
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. I was very excited to read it because I really loved the first two books in Nielsen’s Ascendance trilogy. I didn’t like this book nearly as
much as Nielsen’s Ascendance trilogy; I just had trouble engaging with and enjoying the protagonist of the story.
Nic is a slave in some mines outside of Rome. When he is forced to enter the cursed tomb of Julius Caesar he finds more than just gold and gems, he finds a magical bulla and a griffin. When the griffin marks him and he puts on the bulla Nic finds himself able to command some serious magic skills. Unfortunately everyone wants this bulla and Nic finds himself drawn into the politics of Rome and involved in conflicts with some of its leading rulers.
This book was okay. It’s basically a historical fantasy set in Roman times. There are some magic elements like a magic bulla, characters that can use magic, and a griffin. However mostly the book is about power struggles between the various leaders of Rome.
I didn’t like Nic much as a main character, he was hard to engage with. Also he has supposedly been a slave most of his life, but he never really acts all that slave like. This is dealt with very inconsistently. At one point he is struggling to look people in the eyes and other characters are reminding him he’s not a slave. At other points he is challenging generals very brashly…his behavior is just all over the place and it made for an awkward story.
None of the supporting characters really stood out for me. They were all very stereotypical. Additionally, all the twists and turns in the story were very predictable. My last complaint is that I thought the dialogue between characters was a bit simple and very awkward at points.
All the negative comments aside, this was an interesting idea and I did enjoy the fight scenes in the arena. The magic the characters use was intriguing and I really enjoyed the ancient Rome setting.
Overall this was an okay historical fantasy series. I enjoyed the setting and some of the action scenes, but I thought the plot was predictable and the characters were hard to engage with. I probably won’t be readying any more of this series. There are just too many wonderful middle grade/YA fantasy series out there.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge