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Michael Livingstone Books In Order

Publication Order of Shards of Heaven Books

The Shards of Heaven (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Gates of Hell (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Temples of the Ark (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Realms of God (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

At the End of Babel (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Michael Livingston is an American author, historian and professor who is famous for his fantasy novels which take an alternative history form. His most famous novel is “The Shards of Heaven,” which is part of the series by the same name. Livingston is a Colorado native, and holds a B.A in history from Baylor University. He also holds a Master’s in medieval studies from Western Michigan University. On top of that he has a Ph.D. and Master’s degree in English from the University of Rochester. He has been an avid student of fantasy writings from famed writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan and James Joyce. Livingston has published many writings both fictional and academic, earning widespread platitudes from academic experts.

The novel Shards of Heaven, which was published in 2015, reimagines that intrigues that ensued in the Roman Empire after the death of Julio Cesar. With Julio Cesar assassinated in the senate, his legacy, and the survival of the expansive empire that he had consolidated lays on the edge of an abyss as the succession battle rages on. Cesar’s adoptive son Octavian is in a heated and destructive tug of war with Cleopatra and Marc Anthony for the control of the empire. The tussle sends the empire into civil war. Behind the scenes, another sinister conflict is brewing as different parties seek to control ancient relics believed to hold mystical powers that could help turn the conflict. Numidian prince Juba, another of Cesar’s adopted sons embarks on a mission to find the Shards of Heaven, a lost horde of treasures believed to hold power from the gods. The vindictive prince also has in his possession one of the Shards, the Trident of Poseidon which is rumored to be the very staff that Moses in the bible wielded. Driven by a murderous motivation for revenge, he is ready to do anything to acquire the rest of the Shards. One of the remaining Shards is located on the armor of Alexander the Great and the last and most powerful of them is lost with the Ark of the Covenant. The catastrophic events that follow suck in a host of characters including Caesarion, son of Cesar and Cleopatra; Alexandria’s chief librarian Didymus; Selene, Anthony and Cleopatra’s 13-year-old daughter; Titus and Vorenus, two exiled Roman veterans, as well as a horde of witches, guns for hire, slaves and all manner of savages. As the parties on all sides battle viciously the horrible genocide looks to annihilate not only the Roman Empire but also the entire world. With all these characters setting on the scene and the stakes astronomically high, the narrative plunges into a high octane and action packed sequence of events that any reader would find hard to take a break from. What is most impressive about the novel is the depth of description that Livingston manages to deliver. This is easy task given the myriads of dimensions that the tale takes. It only cements his reputation as a prolific storyteller who can satisfy his readers’ thirst for action and adventure in equal measure.

The Shards of Heaven was followed by the sequel “Gates of Hell” which came out in 2016. The novel begins with the death of Cleopatra and the fall of Alexandria and the greater kingdom of Egypt. Unprotected, Cleopatra’s children are put in chains made from their dead mother’s gold treasures, tortured and paraded through the streets. Only Serene, Cleopatra’s strong-willed daughter survives, and she is placed in adoptive custody of Augustus Cesar. Despite her relative comfort under her mother’s captor’s care, she is hell bent on revenge. She is forcibly married to Juba of Numidia who is still in possession of the Trident of Poseidon. Selene meanwhile has located and obtained another Shard of Heaven which is disguised as a statue in the Vestals Temple. Having learned to love Juba, Selene now works on a plan to use the Shards of Heaven as a tool for her revenge against the Caesar household. With Augustus preparing to war with the Cantabrians in Norther Spain, he turns his attention to the Shards to help win the war. He turns to Juba to ask for help getting all three Shards but out of love for Selene has picked a new side. The young couple use a combination of treachery and bravery to keep the Shards from the reach of Augustus and his many proxies. Juba pays a high cost for his love for Selene but as the epic battle rages on, every decision will have immense consequences on the world. While Livingston spices up the true events with fantasy adventures, his grasp of the Roman Empire is on point. Even for those who are unfamiliar with the subject matter can enjoy reading the novel while learning a lot about the factual circumstances. Livingston’s storytelling capabilities do justice to the hordes of nonfictional characters in the story by tying exaggerated events with the real outcome of the events. The novel maintains fidelity to historical details they are based on without affecting the intrigues that the story offers. Even for those who know the account of Selene from history well and can therefore predict the events of Livingston’s narrative, the novel maintains a gripping level of suspense that makes it hard to put down.

These two novels are a testament to the quality of the entire series. They display perfect recollection of the actual happenings in the Roman Empire which suggests dedicated research effort by Livingston to get the facts straight. Livingston’s pedigree as a historian and nonfiction writer blend well with his flair for imagining events. The continuity in the story from one novel to the other is flawless and efforts are unmistakable to Livingston. The great descriptions and entertainment value in the novels coupled with vivid imagery and occasional humor give the books a feel of the Indiana Jones adventures and there can be no betting against the “Shards of Heaven” series to scale similar heights. Michael Livingston’s lofty place in the literary world is well earned and his star can only shine brighter if he can continually replicate the quality shown in this series.

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