The first book review for this blog is Echoes of Germania by H. B. Ashman! The basic premise of this story is that of mystical time-travel to the Roman period. It is the first of the ongoing Tales of Ancient Worlds series. This will be a non-spoiler review, as the few plot points I will mention are in publicly available summaries. Goodreads Link

Book Content Warning: violence, death of family including children, graphic depictions of war/combat and siege warfare, slavery, physical and verbal abuse of said slaves, graphic depictions of decay & the dead, ethnocentric colonial behaviors

My thoughts on Echoes of Germania

The cover of Echoes of Germania

I really wanted to like this book. Historical fiction is my jam, but there were some nagging things about the material and the pacing of the book that just kept me from fully enjoying it. Our main character is Amelia Weber a young modern German Olympic-level star judoka, the kind that is trained from birth to succeed where her father failed. She is also recent engineering student in University. (Here we see our first inaccuracy, because I don’t think the author really understands the German school system.)

Through some supernatural means, she gets thrown through time from a lake near her home in Horn-Bad Meinburg, Germany to the same place in Germania. Here she encounters the Arminius, albeit while he is still a confidently Romanized narrow-stripe Tribune in a legion. Our two characters then follow their potential future paths driven by a mysterious white owl.

The Not So Good

Now, unfortunately, I begin the litany of critiques about the action and pacing of Echoes of Germania. I have seen other criticisms of the book than the ones I am listing here, but I will focus on the problems I had that broke the immersion for me.

First, our author takes significant liberties with the timeline. While I am not an expert in Roman history, most of these changes can not be explained away by time travel. There are events that historically occurred between 1-4 AD, but then also events occurring that would not happen until 6-9 AD all occurring at the same time. I am unsure if this was a miscommunication or necessary for the plot of the story.

The Romans were also depicted being shockingly non-religious for such a highly ritualized culture. Aside from some mentions of superstitions and occasional swearing in Jupiter’s name, there is a general lack of religious ritual and reference, despite our main character becoming intimately linked to a Roman household. The author also chose to use the modern anglicized Norse names to refer to the early Germanic gods. While it is true that the North Germans that eventually became the Norse were culturally close to the early continental Germanic peoples, there were differences. Also, referring to Odin and Freya rings of a “Viking” epic as opposed to a sword and sandal story like this one.

While reading the text, I could not help but feel that this may have better served as two separate books. About 2/3rds of the way through the text, it seemed to reach a satisfying conclusion, but then we have a 3-year time jump and go off on other events. This jump includes explained, but abrupt changes in character relationships and personalities that also seems a strange thing to do in the middle of a book.

Echoes of Germania: the TL;DR

I am sure for some people this historically-inspired isekai fiction would be a 5 star book. However, for me the pacing of Echoes of Germania, not quite Roman Romans, and some other strange choices from the author made it a 6 or 7 out of 10.

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