Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel!
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.
A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON
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.
A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET
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.
A DANGEROUS QUEST
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.
I don’t even think I can string together the words to express just how much I loved this book. Just like Sarah J. Maas, I loved every word. This is my favorite book of 2019 and I don’t think anything will be able to top it. I’m a huge fan of Ancient Rome/gladiators, Greek Gods and pirates (thanks Johnny Depp) and this book gave me all of that and somehow made it work.
“North must not meet South”
What if you grew up and only knew half of the world and thought there was nothing beyond the ocean but more ocean? In the Empire of Celendor, a conquering empire, there is believed to be nothing beyond the Endless Seas. There are rumors of the Dark Shores though and what lies there but no one really knows for certain…or do they?
From the first page my attention was grabbed by Teriana. She is a 17 year old girl who is a Maarin sailor and second mate of her mother’s ship the Quincense. The Maarin are a people in and of themselves meaning they aren’t governed by any specific nation, but they do have to follow the laws of whatever nation the make port in. Teriana was a fierce MC who was strong, kind and loved her people enough to damn her immortal soul. While fierce she was also relatable which is something I really look for in my strong female characters. It’s okay to not be strong all the time and question what the right decision to make is.
Our other MC is Marcus the Legatus (highest ranking officer in a Cel legion) of the 37th legion, a group of skilled soldiers who have been trained since youth to go out and conquer provinces and then bring them under the control of the Empire. Even from the start while the rest of the legion appeared brutish and rude, he seemed kind, caring and like someone I might want to root for. While he is on the opposing side of the fight with Teriana and the Maarin, you can tell he loves his legion and is loyal to them versus the Empire.
Dark Shores was so twisty and had me questioning who to trust the whole time I was reading it. While we get both Terianas’ and Marcus’ perspectives it was still hard to tell what the end goal actually was and who would be willing to do what to achieve theirs. Throw in some language barriers, traitors along with battles, it all made for an interesting story.
There were some amazing secondary characters in this book who I might not have liked at first, but truly grew on me. From the 37th we had Servius, Quintas, Miki, Amrin, Felix and Titus and from the Quincense there was Yedda, Bait and Magnius. They all played an important role in the story and really grew on me in and of themselves, even if some of them were protagonists. Who doesn’t want a villian you love to hate? Or on you’re not quite sure is a villian at all yet?
The inclusivity was also amazing. We have so many different skin colors/nationalities all working together with no racism. The main characters have dark skin colors and that was such a nice change from the usual. We also had some gay romance happening within the ranks of the legion, some gay interracial relationships too. Miki and Quintas were so cute together! I could tell how much they really cared for each other and it was nice to see read about them. They were front and center throughout the book and open about their relationship. It didn’t phase Marcus at all, in fact no one batted an eye at it. This is the kind of world I want to live in and for a little while I got to.
There wasn’t too bad of a cliffhanger but were definitely some unanswered questions. This has the potential to be a long series, not one that drags out but has a long storyline like Throne of Glass. Also I’d like to take the time to say THANK YOU DANIELLE JENSEN for including a freaking GLOSSARY!! There were a ton of new terms and characters so this was super helpful when I was a tad confused.
I would recommend this book to everyone that loves seaworthy pirate tales of adventures (no actual piracy), gods/goddesses that intervene, or some Ancient Rome aspects. If I had physical copies of this book I would pass it around to everyone that I know that enjoys reading. I have already preordered my copy and am praying there is a book tour so I can go meet the author and tell her just how much I loved Dark Shores.