Character Development: B
Cover Art: A+ x 1,000,000
In this retelling of the Aeneid from the female perspective, a crippled slave girl grows up to become the Oracle of the Goddess of Death, meets Aeneas, and joins his people on their journey to foreign lands, eventually stopping to found what would later become the city of Rome.
The fantasy element is kept very light here. The heroine has a few visions, and occasionally her goddess uses her as a mouthpiece, but all the troubles and villains are very human. Even the journey through the Underworld referred to in the book's description is a vision quest, not a physical journey through the Underworld.
There's a strange conflict between life being nasty, brutish, and short in ancient times and how nice and careful of human life Aeneas and his men can be. The heroes are all extremely kind and sanitized.
The book is easy enough to read and the writing is occasionally pleasant, but the plot often drags until the book's midpoint. I expected the heroine to be a little more take-charge, but she spends most of the first half of the book observing and describing what other people are doing. For some reason I also expected it to be a bit more feminist, but there's this love triangle between the heroine, Aeneas, and one of the captains that takes up WAY too much time and energy. She's a Goddess's chosen priestess, but the heroine spends most of her time bemoaning the fact that her crippled leg means the captain will never find her attractive, or bemoaning the fact that Aeneas is a prince and she's an oracle and they can never be together blah blah. Blah. It really sucked the life out of the character development.
Also, the reason I keep calling her the heroine is because her name keeps changing. It's Gull, then it's Linnea, then it's Pythia, and then everyone starts calling her Sybil because that's her job title. It got tiresome.
I kept telling myself it was just a bit weak because it's the first book in a series, and I did like it enough that I was ready to read the next two, but this heroine's story wrapped up at the end. It's not really a trilogy, it's three stand-alones in one series. I don't think I'm going to try the others.
Extra credit: The part in Egypt was good, though.