Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Legacy of Kings

Author: Eleanor Herman
Release: August 18th 2015
Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Magic, YA
#1 in the Blood of Gods and Royals series
Sequels: Empire of Dust (#2), TBA


Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.


This book seemed to come out of nowhere about a couple of months ago, and it blew up. It was so hyped and promoted, I couldn't help but jump on the wagon. However, I sincerely regret this decision.

Legacy of Kings promises a retelling of the younger years of Alexander the Great, written by a historian who supposedly knows what she is talking about. Nevertheless, Herman tries to turn this tale into a whimsical fantasy novel á la Game of Thrones with a confusing, huge cast of characters that each has their own stories to tell. As a result, Alexander and his own story take up maybe ... 20% of the whole plot. There's Katerina, the heroine of the novel I suppose, Alex's best friend Hephaestion, a princess named Zofia who as of right now seems to be of no fucking relevance to the other characters' plot at all, his mother, and his half-sister Cynane who isn't even fucking mentioned in the blurb but still has her own agenda as well. It was a mess, if anything, especially seeing as none of these characters' plots were even mildly interesting and only distracted from what I was here to see in the first place: fucking Alexander the Great.

Now, the characters themselves were — mostly — not even all too bad, to be perfectly honest, although a bit on the two dimensional side. Except maybe for Cynane, who is so far the best character in my opinion because she has an internal struggle to do what she believes is her mission in life and to do that must go behind her half-brother's back, but at the same time, she feels this odd sense of ... I guess you could call it loyalty to him if he is threatened by someone else. The other characters, while being very boring, were at least not frustrating or attracted negative attention. Except for Jacob maybe, who was an abusive whiny little bitch.

What totally, irrevocably ruined it and dragged it to the Gates of Hell was, in fact, the relationships. None of them were developed, I am telling you not one, in any sort of way or any form. Apparently Kat and Alex immediately trust each other and seem familiar even though they only just met, and I honestly expected them to fall in love and bla as the cliché suggests for them, but no, at the end it turns there's an even more ridiculous explanation for why they feel like that. Instead, Kat and Hephaestion have feelings for each other out of fucking nowhere, because before Heph looks at Kat and realizes, "oh she's hot," he is constantly sneaking around with Cynane whereas Kat is stealing kisses with Jacob the whole time. So, this revelation that they've fallen in love even though they have had ZERO interaction is so random and came so out of left field, it just made me stop for a while and look into the camera as if I was on The Office. What the fuck y'all. Which, by the way, neither of those other relationships (Heph/Cyn and Kat/Jacob) was particularly developed, either. 

The characters on their own didn't have any character arcs or developments as well, which was disappointing to say the least, because there was so much potential. Alex tells Heph, in one of the very first fucking chapters, that his pride is his downfall and weakest personality trait, and instead of working on doing something about that, Heph simply continues on doing incredibly stupid stuff because of his pride all throughout the novel. It's quite similar for all the other characters.

Next up, there's the whole world building, which was extremely nice, if I do say so myself. Herman knows what she is talking about, and while I won't pretend to know too much about the time period or cultural customs or whatever, it all felt pretty solid to me, the settings were interesting and the descriptions were somewhat well done, too. Still, one thing that kept nagging at me, were some descriptions that were way over the top as well as totally useless information that Herman seems to spit out only to shower us with info about the world and brag with how much she knows about it. Sorry, but it was really distracting sometimes.
“Macedonians come streaming down both hills on horse and on foot, crying, “Alala! Alala!” at the top of their lungs. Alala, the daughter of Polemus, the demon of war, is the goddess of the war cry.”
I did not need to know who her Dad is at a really urgent time in the novel such as this: a fucking march into war.

Which brings me to my last point, the writing. I am sorry, but it was really ... well, not horrible, no. But not good. Seriously. The dialogue felt incredibly awkward and stilted, like it was totally staged. Which might be blamed on the fact that on the one hand, these characters sounded like modern teenagers some times and others sounded like actual middle-aged adults from that time period.
“Aren't you as chilled by what you saw as I am?”
It's this one time, by a teenager, and then:
“Where is she now??????”
With that exact amount of question marks. No alteration has been made, that is an actual quote from the actual book. This sentence got past her own common sense, past her editor, past the publisher. How? How?

Ultimately, I am just so ... I don't even know. Honestly, I didn't even expect that much from this novel, so I can't really say that I am disappointed, but I feel cheated somehow. I love history and I feel like this doesn't do Alexander the Great justice, and he's my name buddy. But oh well. I doubt I'll read the sequel.

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