Book Review: To Conquer Heaven by Felix Long

Let's get the tl;dr out of the way with some numbers first: 

3 stars out of 5, DO recommend. 

This isn't some Amazon review where anything less than a five means I think this is trash, this is an honest, on a scale of one to five, I rate it a solid three. 

To Conquer Heaven follows Jeremy, Brent, and Saffiyah as they hunt for the tomb of the First Emperor of China. Felix Long's main strength is his descriptions. Landscapes, buildings, interior room, objects — they're all described beautifully with a real sense of being there. I understood the grandeur and artistry of objects before me, and maybe even felt an urge to loot a tomb myself. 

The plot is a solid adventure story, with a deft execution, although I did not feel I had a great handle on the main characters' interior lives. I was not sure how finding a tomb was going to redeem our initial main character, Jeremy, in their father's eyes – by becoming rich? By succeeding at something big or impressive? By making a contribution to archeology? I couldn't tell and wasn't sure if Jeremy really knew either. Brent and Saffiyah's motivations were more apparent: adventure and professional interest, respectively. The midpoint twist was telegraphed, but well done.

My major complaint is that the novel was too long. I feel the story would have been better served by choosing between the travelogue, archeology adventure, and the fantasy magic aspects. As it is, there isn't enough plot and character development to sustain 600+ pages.

But overall, a solid, fun story across China and mythology.