In keeping with the first book in The Priestess Chronicles, Relic Seeker has Ariela thrown into a new time and place to uncover her mission. She left with friends, but arrives alone, something that bothers her friends just as much when they discover her absence. Ariela is a servant on the Senator’s estate while the other two find themselves suspected gods, or at least the answer to prayers, in a nearby Goth village. This separation allows our heroes to tackle the problem from both ends as they struggle to figure out who or what they were sent to stop.
This is another adventure where Ariela and her friends must adapt while seeking clues to show why the angel brought them to this place. The Romans and Goths have a tentative alliance built on the need for mercenary troops and a willingness to accept Roman coin. An insidious rumor, whether true or false, is enough to undermine the peace as magic and rational beliefs clash.
Toss in the emperor’s half-mad son, powerful relics from lost cultures, and a villain with a mission cutting a little too close to the heart of our heroes, and this book offers a more nuanced conflict. The view of the Romans, possibly a reflection of when they land, supports this additional complexity. Hints indicate it is the rule of Constantine who became a Christian rather than keeping to the Roman gods.
The separation of main characters allows us to discover the good in Romans and Goths alike, and learn something about both cultures. Our heroes make friends among the villagers and Roman staff who influence the course of their mission as well as expanding the characters we, as readers, come to care about.
The omniscient, rolling point of view (POV) had a few small hiccups where information is withheld to create what I consider false tension, but for the most part, the POV worked well and I never lost track of who held center stage. It allows the reader to follow both sides of a complex situation without a lot of explanation required as it would be if non-POV characters had to reveal what they’ve been doing off screen.
The spare, straightforward writing style, plus a lighter hand with the less appealing aspects of both Roman and Goth life, makes this novel a solid, fun read. It managed to draw my sympathies and endear me to characters new and old as they faced challenges to touch their hearts and minds. Relic Seeker raises interesting questions about the lines where cultures and people meet while exploring human struggles.
I enjoyed the story and spending time with familiar characters along with new ones. The series could easily have fallen into a pattern. Instead, it draws on the characters’ histories, along with changing times, to offer a brand new conflict and challenge our band of time-traveling heroes. It’ll be interesting to see how this is accomplished in the next book.
P.S. I received this ARC from the author in return for an honest review.