Shards of Earth took a bit of time to hook me, mostly because the writing trends towards cringey in the way that a lot of sci-fi and fantasy does. I picked up Shards of Earth because I loved Children of Time, about a species of intelligent spiders (better and weirder than it sounds)
Shards of Earth was a fine read, but the cringey dialog and mix of far future worlds with terms we use today on Earth (Would humans of the far, far future, with no discernible connection to current-day religions call someone a Saint? Would they still make references to minotaurs?) made it a bit of a slog at points. In the last half of the book, the story picked up and the dialog and odd anchoring points became less distracting. The last ~100 pages or so as the scrappy crew of a scavenger ship try to stop a planet sized artist from destroying a planet by thinking very hard in the entity’s direction was a lot of fun.