My Review of Dark Shores by Danielle L Jensen

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High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, a thrilling first novel in a fast-paced new YA fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

My Review:

(Warning contain spoliers)

Dark Shores is everything I want in a fantasy novel. First, it is not often we get Roman-inspired fantasy. Second, this has all the intrigues and double backstabbing politics of Rome. Third. We get Roman ships. I repeat. Roman ships. Storms. Oceans. Colonization on a scale that we would never see except maybe imagine the Romans colonizing the Americas which they never did.
This novel is Teriana and Marcus’s journey together. They encounter strange lands, mysterious armies, an island where his legion takes command. This has all the usual tropes of a Simon Scarrow novel set in Rome, and that is a compliment. Marcus is strong-headed but refuses to enter politics. Same as Cato in the Eagles Series by Simon Scarrow. He’s strong and will-headed but stubborn as a mule.

Teriana is an heir to the Maarin Triumvirate and the novel displays her maturity as she grows from heir to almost a leader. I did feel the relationship needed a bit more pages to show the attraction between the two.
What also intrigues me, is that Marcus’s plans also foreshadow that the Empire may be intent on conquering different lands to distract the populace. The amount of good and bad is always put into peril. Why is that? Power commands everything.

You could be good or bad, but corruption eventually hits you in the end. I wanted to get an insight into the Maarin Culture, and I was not sure whether the Maarin ship was medieval or ancient. A little more detail on that would be nice.

One of the strengths of this novel is that the Maarin was trading between the West and the East. They kept the secret from the Empire. This reminds me of the Parthians, who made it in their foreign policy to never allow the Chinese and the Romans to interact with each other.

One could imagine what would have happened and could have been a crazy alternate history in itself. I was not sure about what is in the East. Will we see a Shogunate inspired nation? A Chinese inspired Empire? I can’t wait.

I’d also like to see dueling Phalanxes and the Greeks/Persians. I would love to see the cities of Ziggaurets. This is what I want. A fantasy that has the Ancient World. A fantasy that has Ancient Egypt (please please please please please please can we have this?) I want fantasy from the Bronze Age. I want this type. I like Medieval fantasy sure, but I also want to see MORE of this. This has the best writing, best dialogue. Either way, you’re on a journey.

My request to the excellent author, let us have Marcus and Teriana develop their relationship as they go to new lands, enter into forbidden temples, have Indiana jones styles plots, etc. We often have Medieval fantasy doing this, but we don’t get it enough with this Roman-inspired fantasy novel. I want and wish to see a map of this novel. I want to see the world. I want MORE.

Because this is in a way, a fantasy novel that would have been published in the 1970s/1980s that has excellent writing. It is comparable to Kirk Mitchell who wrote an alternate Roman series in where the Romans battled the Aztecs. It’s on that scale.

My rating: 5/5. This novel has made me enjoy so much I can still remember vivid scenes though I don’t wish to spoil too much. I already want to read the sequel because the novel is great.

UK Amazon Link

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