The book continues to follow Nicolaus, a boy, formerly a slave, who has received magical powers when he finds the bulla — a talisman — of Julius Caesar. In this book, the main conflict has started. The Praetor War — a war to destroy the Roman Empire — has already begun. The Praetors, ostensibly civil servants under the supervision of a toothless Senate loyal only to the Emperor himself, are in fact secret servants of the gods — one in particular. For three centuries, Diana, goddess of the moon and the hunt, has been in rebellion against the other gods. For three centuries, the Praetors have kept this a secret, waiting for someone to find the bulla of Caesar. Now, they are after Nic, who is caught up in subtle political schemes with no time to adjust. Even as he struggles to avoid becoming a pawn, the net is closing…
Jennifer A Nielsen has a way with words that conveys the brilliant schemes and grand machinations of courtly life. The way the characters are written gives them layers, depth, and complexity. In addition to excelling in courtly intrigue and high politics, Nielsen also conveys action in fast-paced, stark terms that prevent you from putting the book down. And throughout, there is a witty, dry humor that keeps the story from getting too mired in the cloak-and-dagger surroundings.
One memorable thing is the underlying conspiracy. It always seems to leave just enough clues to keep the reader guessing.
Reviewed by Adam, Grade 9, Tuckahoe Area Library