The Emerald Tablet – Joshua Silverman

About the Book

Do you wish you could have the power of a god? Would you use it for good…or for evil?

When an archeologist discovers the mythic Emerald Tablet buried beneath Egypt’s desert, her son decodes the ancient text leading him to a distant world.

On that world, a slave girl begins a journey towards a destiny she cannot imagine. But when an ancient foe rises from the ashes, they will be brought together
by forces neither understands.

Leoros, who dreams of being like the heroes in the comic books, must fight to unlock the secrets of the universe to save a people he never knew existed.

Atlantia, whose bloody visions wake her in the night, senses the darkness coming.

Together they will face an enemy with the power of dark energy, lose a mentor to the assassin’s blade, and be betrayed by someone they trust. Their fight for the future is just beginning, and before it is over, a final sacrifice must be made. When the darkness comes, will they stand and fight or will they join it?

There is darkness in everyone.

408 pages (paperback)
Published on September 15, 2012
Author’s website

This book was sent for me to review by the author.


Admittedly I have a huge soft spot for history, mythology and the blending of the two into unique fantasy. It’s one of those things where, if a book touts the fact that it’s based even loosely on mythology, I find that I simply must read it. So you can imagine how I jumped on The Emerald Tablet when the author approached me, saying it was based on Egyptian and Greek mythology. Yes, please.

I haven’t really read a ton of fantasy based on Egyptian mythology and I’m not sure why. It seems to be an obvious choice which offers plenty of fodder for the fantasy author, however not many choose it. Maybe because so many people know so much about the mythology that authors think it’s harder to write a good fantasy based on it without upsetting all the aficionados out there? I’m not sure. Maybe they just don’t want to. Who knows. The fact of the matter is, The Emerald Tablet is one of the few, if not the only, fantasy book based heavily on Egyptian lore, that I’ve read. Not only does Silverman write based on Egyptian mythology, but he throws in plenty of Greek action for your pleasure. (And I recommend you follow him on Twitter, if this sort of thing interests you. I’ve been learning all sorts of random facts from his tweets).

With these two powerhouse cultural systems in the works, Silverman has to show that he has the authorial gumption to do them both the justice they deserve, as well as the intense research that it will require to accurately portray these cultures, and the mythology that he’s based them on. This is, perhaps, where the author both succeeds and fails. First, it’s obvious he knows his stuff. He could probably teach classes at a university based on mythology and I’d be in the front row drinking it all up. I learned more about these mythology systems and the fascinating cultures that they developed from, and his unique (and believable) evolution of them, than I ever expected to. That being said, Silverman does get a little overly complex for the plot, especially in the first half of The Emerald Tablet. There are infodumps, which can be a bit dry at times, and they do have a tendency to bog the flow of events. While it’s interesting, it seems as though Silverman has trouble drawing a line between necessary information, and too much information.

The Emerald Tablet is both fantasy, and science fiction rolled into one. It’s one of those books that seems to defy the reader’s ability to label it. That’s always a rare treat for me. While one of the threads of the story begins on Earth with an unsuspecting boy, Leoros, it quickly is transported (literally) to another planet called Potara. Characters meet; puppy love (a side plot) is found. Battles are fought. It’s all quite fascinating and rather refreshing to read a book that doesn’t just take place in one location, but multiple planets, without ever really crossing the threshold into space opera territory.

As with most things, there is a negative to this, as well. While I enjoyed the multiple locations, while so much of the story takes place on Potara, I wasn’t exactly sure why Earth and the hubbub of teleporting to another location was necessary. In fact, this whole plot point caused me to suffer from some believability issues, and felt like it made the plot unnecessarily complex when it would have been just fine, if not more smooth and flowing, if Silverman had just picked a location and ran with it. There is a certain amount of embellishment on plots, locations and characters that is fine and expected. After that the book just starts to feel cluttered. In matters of location and some of the mythology, Silverman did cross the line occasionally, but I wonder if it wasn’t his passion for what he was writing that fueled him into exorbitance occasionally.

The interesting thing about Potara isn’t really that it’s another planet, but it’s the societies Silverman has developed on this planet. I can see how it would be essential to take earth out of the equation so these people could develop their society in a way that would be impossible in this modern day. Potara is essentially a society poised at the brink of war with high tensions between futuristic Egyptian and Greek societies. This creation is truly an amazing, if not absolutely fascinating, aspect of The Emerald Tablet, and it really shows off all that Silverman knows about the cultures and the mythologies he talks about here. It’s one thing to write about these societies in a past tense, but it’s quite another to wonder just how they would have evolved if left to their own devices, and then create and entire world from that.

Mixed into this are some characters that aren’t incredibly unique as this sort of plot goes, but are rather endearing, despite that. While the secondary characters do suffer from a bit of the cardboard cutout syndrome, it’s obvious that Silverman spent plenty of time breathing life into his main cast and it pays off in characters like Leoros, Dio and the others. Despite a rather dark beginning, the characters are all pretty young. Sometimes they might seem a little too young for the events transpiring, but this allows Silverman to appeal to a wider audience than he would otherwise be able to, making The Emerald Tablet a comfortable book for the more mature YA readers, and those who prefer books geared toward an adult audience, as well.

Despite the fact that The Emerald Tablet could have been polished a little more, the story itself is rather fun, if not a tad predictable to those who are frequent fantasy readers. It’s the basic good-vs-evil story with a few “chosen ones” and some evil guys who are so evil they are almost unbelievable. The final battle has a pretty obvious outcome. The ending is an obvious segue into book two. While I do get rather tired of good-vs-evil stories and chosen people and all that, Silverman’s unique setting and truly endearing characters, coupled with his absolute mastery of mythology, really jazzes up a fairly tired trope and makes it fresh and different. The overall problem I faced wasn’t with the writing or the story itself, but with the fact that Silverman was trying to be a bit more complex than the plot actually needed him to be. While he set a firm foundation for the rest of an enthralling series, The Emerald Tablet could have used a little more balance.


3/5 stars


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