FeaturedMiddle Grade

Sol Invictus


Must read 🏆

Middle grade readers with a love of adventure and history are sure to connect with John and Sarah in this dynamic story.

John and Sarah Tidewell are back for another adventure through time in this second installment in the Eye of Ra series. Shortly after their journey to Ancient Egypt, the Tidewell family packed their things and moved from Colorado to Maryland, a transition that was somewhat rocky, at first. One muggy summer day, the family ventures to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. to investigate an exhibit about the Ancient Roman Empire. In the midst of an unexpected fire drill, John and Sarah become separated from their parents and meet Aten, a grave robber from their previous adventure. Several cryptic comments and a frightening situation later, John and Sarah find themselves in the middle of an active, Ancient Roman arena. The siblings must rely on a new friend, Crocus, to help keep them safe while they complete a quest apparently set upon them by the gods—because they cannot return home until they do. 

Fans of The Eye of Ra will love the quick return to history Sarah and John experience in this story. Diligently researched, Sol Invictus recounts historical events in a way that is captivating and engaging while simultaneously educating readers of all ages. As Sarah enters her pre-teen years, her emotions run high and are a frequent through-line in this story. Trapped in the transition between childhood and becoming a teenager, Sarah struggles to find her place, occasionally putting herself, John, and their new friends in danger in the process. There is more violence and discussion of death in this story than in the first book, and Sarah and John have no parental figures to guide them this time. Instead, both must embrace their increasing maturity and learn to be self-sufficient. The writing is richly detailed and fast-paced, placing readers in the middle of the narrative and giving the story the feel of an action film. After the story ends, readers will find a recipe for Libum, a sweet cheesecake introduced in the book. Additionally, a message from the author explains which pieces of history are true and which are not within the context of the story. Middle grade readers with a love of adventure and history are sure to connect with John and Sarah in this dynamic series.

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I review books for kids, tweens, and teens and blog about them on my website. To date, I have over 500 published reviews. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at www.maryrlanni.com to get recommendations straight to your inbox! I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews upon request.

Memory Stew

About the author

Ben Gartner is the award-winning author of The Eye of Ra time travel adventure series for middle graders. His books take readers for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something in the meantime. More at BenGartner.com. view profile

Published on February 02, 2021

Published by Crescent Vista Press

50000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Middle Grade

Reviewed by