As my introduction demonstrated, there are a lot of layers to the setting of Legends of Amun Ra, but once it's introduced, it's actually pretty cool. Silverman obviously did his research on ancient Greece and Egypt and uses both the history and mythology to provide a unique feeling for the city of Thoth and the other nations of Potara. Sadly, more time isn't given to exploring Thoth and the intricacies of this society, which is something I'd love to have seen more of. The other neat component to the setting is the story's heroes, the Gifted. The Gifted are a select group able to wield the energies of the universe almost like magic or a force of will. I could make a lot of parallels of this ability to other sci-fi and fantasy concepts, but the truth is, it's somewhere in the middle, combining faith, magic, science, and emotion into a power source. Silverman uses the Gifted in some really interesting ways, implying a lot of possibilities for these power sets but never sitting down and trying to explain away the intricacies, which leaves the Gifted with their magical feel even before the prophecies and chosen ones are introduced. The Emerald Tablet does have some mechanical issues in introducing its setting, thanks to heavy-handed exposition in the early parts of the book, which throws a bit too much information at readers and is given in some odd places.
The Emerald Tablet features a varied cast of characters who come from many walks of life. These characters aren't easy to get to know, but, as the book progresses into its second act, many of them really clicked for me. There are several scenes that emotionally resonated with me, sometimes incredibly sweet and endearing and at other times heartbreaking. Like the setting, the characterization in this book suffers from mechanical problems. The characters spend far too much time thinking to themselves instead of interacting with the other characters, which really suffers because of how emphasized these relationships are in the book. When the characters do interact, they often seem to anticipate one another's thoughts, which grew frustrating. Part of my issue with this comes from the writing style which is present tense and omniscient. Admittedly, this is one of my least favorite formats to tell a story. In my opinion, present tense is difficult to read and omniscience enhances confusion and confounds the mechanics of language. I didn't like it when Frank Herbert used it in Dune, and it didn't work for me here.
Around the halfway point of the story, The Emerald Tablet comes alive as the exposition dies down and the characters are thrust into an adventure. The different pieces of setting and characterization start to come together and lead to quite a few cool moments. The Gifted shine when they're applying their powers to preserving and taking life and manage to hit that fine line between being bada--es without feeling cheaply unstoppable. This center section of the book is easily my favorite, and, while I wanted more of it, Silverman shows insight in knowing when to break off and take a breather before he wore out readers with too much action. Sad to say, the ending is not as satisfying but for dramatically different reasons than the intro. Many pieces are left unresolved, waiting for the sequel book, The Soul of the World. While I didn't need every piece resolved, there are a lot of characters for whom I'm not sure of their fates, and the pieces that are wrapped up are an incredible downer, acting more like the second piece of a trilogy than a first. Given a few bright points among the darkness, I think it would have resonated with me better, though it did its job of making me want to come back for more.
With a sound setting and some neat concepts but some issues with the plot and mechanics, Legends of Amun Ra is still getting its legs as a series, but as it grows and develops and finds its balance, I'm confident it will achieve great things.