Generally speaking, I don't really gravitate towards pirate/ship-y books. Not that I have anything against them, just that they've never really strongly appealed to me. Despite that, however, I did really enjoy this book.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.

This book follows Teriana, a fierce second mate and the heir to the Maarin Triumvirate, a group of people who do not heed the Celendor Empire's rule. When her friend is forced into a betrothal with a senator, she breaks the code of her people and tells the secrets that could lead to the East meeting the West - the forbidden rule of the Maarin. After being blackmailed by the soon-to-be consul, Marcus, a commander of the famed Thirty-Seventh legion is tasked with sailing to the Dark Shores and establishing the Empire's rule. With the freedom of her people at stake, Teriana and her crew set out to help Marcus and his legion find the Dark Shores. With high stakes for both Teriana and Marcus, they each have to decide how far they are willing to go to save their people.

Right of the bat, I could tell that the Celendor Empire seemed loosely based around the Roman Empire. I'm not sure if it is super obvious to other readers or that Ancient Warfare class I took last semester is coming back to haunt me, but it seemed pretty similar. My prior knowledge helped me understand any of the leadership structures (i.e. the consulship) that may not have been explained perfectly for some readers. There were definitely some differences and I don't think there was any historical accuracy intended from Jensen (that is, there are some similarities but it isn't meant to be a complete historical fiction retelling of the Roman Empire).

Secondly, I really enjoyed the concept of the East and West as well as the independent Maarin. It was really interesting to think about one half of the world not really realizing that there was another half - it seems like common sense but I would imagine in the time before maps and being able to chart such things, people thought the world they knew was the extent of the world. While most of the story takes place away from the Empire, I did enjoy the introduction we got and that backstory before just jumping into the main part of the story.

I did think that the first 30ish pages were a bit slow, but I can't really fault the book too much because I get Jensen was trying to establish a backstory first. Once things got to the "3 months later" part, it really picked up. The writing is also alternating perspectives of third-person (both through Teriana and Marcus's perspectives) and that took a minute to get used to. If you are struggling a bit with the beginning, just push through at least until the time jump, I promise, it picks up.

Overall, I ended up enjoying this one and can't wait for book two!