The Emerald Tablet by Joshua Silverman

He's a handsome guy, isn't he?
He’s a handsome guy, isn’t he?

Why I Read It: Scifi and Egyptian mythology – how could I not read it?

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: If you’re looking for action, scifi, mythology, even a bit of magic, this book needs to be on your reading list.

Publisher: Enchanted Forest Press (2012)

Length: 395 pages

Series: Book 1 Legends of Amun Ra

Leoros has been bounced around the world by his parents, specifically by his mother’s job as an archaeologist. In the past few years, he has made New York, Greece, and  lately Egypt home. His parents, Camilla and Alex, are both caught up in their careers and 13 year old Leoros has plenty of time to himself, when he isn’t being teased or bullied by the local kids. An important archaeological discovery, the Pillar of Hermes, leads Leoros to another world through the use of the Emerald Tablet.

On Potara, a significantly more advanced world than Earth, different factions vie for supremacy. Leoros is first greeted in Doric Greek by Pythos, a priest of Amun Ra, a dwindling religious sect that still retains some power.  Pythos had been asking the deities that be for guidance and assistance in the coming conflict that he fears. He views Leoros as that assistance as he bears an unusual birth mark in the shape of two dragon heads. Leoros is taken under Pythos’s wing and trained with the other trainees, all of whom are several years older than him. Then there is Atlantia, a Helot (slave), who assists Pythos with his research and cleans up after everyone. Through persistence and lack of caring about the class structure of Potara, Leoros eventually makes friends with her.

This is an ambitious book with many big-picture ideas. Lucky for us, the author Joshua Silverman plans to give us 7 books in this series. This book is packed full of mythological elements, which was my favorite part of the world building. All the ladies are kick ass in their own unique ways and what few men underestimate them quickly learn that is folly. While most of the story takes place on Potara, there are scenes showing Leoros’s parents and their efforts to find out what happened to him. I especially liked this element of caring parents instead of the standard dysfunctional or abusive parents that soak the YA genre currently. It is a fiction folks, so it’s OK to create family units that actually care about each other.

Mechanized battle suits mix with the magical energy-slinging Priests of Amun Ra and their acolytes in defending and attacking the Thothian Empire. Cruel deceit and backstabbing has left Leoros and his friends at a severe disadvantage. A centuries old grudge between Osiris and Lycurgus could be the empire’s undoing. No character turned out how I thought they would. Silverman does an excellent job of showing that his characters are not Ultimate Evil or Princely Good; they have facets of each. As such, they may be persuaded or tricked or decide on their own to walk a path that rains down death and destruction. Indeed, this isn’t a Disney fairy tale. The action is interspersed with scenes of self-contemplation by the characters, giving a balanced pacing. While some elements of the ending surprised me, they were fitting and the last scene was poignant. I look forward to seeing how the author writes his character Leoros out of the obstacle-filled place he left him in.

If I have to discuss the few weaknesses of the book, I will say they did not detract from my over all enjoyment. Sometimes the tense changed a little too quickly; much of the book is written in present tense, but sometimes the character is musing on some memory (past tense) and then snap! Back into present tense. In a few places, things moved quickly, perhaps abruptly, from one scene to another. But as, I said, these minor weaknesses did not deter me from staying up way too late so I could squeeze in one more chapter.

I had fun with the various names in this book and their hinted at connections to history or mythology. Here are some examples, but I leave plenty for you to find on your own. Keep in mind these are my own guesses and I am sure you could come up with other parallels, etc.

Metatron’s Cube, and the Fruit of Life

Lycurgus

Camilla

Atlantia Oneiroi

Staff of Hermes

What I Liked: Lots of mythology wrapped up in scifi cities and armies; the battle between good and evil isn’t so cut and dry; the characters are complicated; the female characters are just as intense, intelligent (or not) and capable as the men; intense ending; swearing in Greek.

What I Disliked: Occasionally, the scenes or the tense changed a little too quickly.

Interview with the Author

What Others Think:

Gina’s Library

The Winey Reader

Niki’s Book Corner

 

6 thoughts on “The Emerald Tablet by Joshua Silverman”

  1. I too am intruiged by the scifi/Egyptian mythos combination. Probably why I loved StarGate (the movie, never got into the tv show) so much! I love that there’s so many of these “kids get transported to another world” books, dating back to Narnia, these are just wonderful kinds of books for kids to be reading.

  2. Why wouldn’t you love the whole sci-fi/egyptian combination. It’s just so intriguing. This sounds really interesting. Plus – swearing in Greek!
    Lynn 😀

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