Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
paperback ARC, 461 pages
Published by Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Synopsis: 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.
I had such high expectations for Legacy of Kings and despite other bloggers telling me that they DNFed this book, I went into it undaunted. Though I was warned about the multiple POVs, I wasn't overwhelmed by the amount of characters' perspectives but after a while, their voices did start to blend together. Legacy of Kings has a lot of realism, sparse dialogue, and little character development. It's very well researched and after reading it, I watched a few documentaries about Alexander the Great and I'm happy to report that Herman used a lot of actual historical facts in her story. While that's a big plus, it also ends up being a weaknesses in the novel because it reads more like a textbook--though a really good textbook. Before this series, Herman was known for her nonfiction work so this isn't surprising. There are fantasy elements in the story that give it more of a fiction feel but it wasn't enough to pull me into the plot. In addition, Herman's writing style lacks emotion, and with her telling instead of showing style of weaving her characters' plots together, I felt very detached from their stories. I am curious about what Herman has in store for this series in the future, but I could just as easily pass it over.
1) Legacy of Kings is well researched. This isn't surprising considering that Herman is a well-known nonfiction writer. After reading this novel, I went and watched a two-hour documentary on Alexander the Great and was happy to find that Herman was on point with her facts.
2) Herman does a great job of balancing multiple storylines and weaving them all together. It is reminiscent of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series.
1) There was a great lack in dialogue, which always makes a book lose major points with me, because dialogue is key in the development of characters and their relationships.
2) When reading a historical fiction book, it is necessary for an author to use actual historical facts and figures. However, Herman stayed too close to the actual history of Alexander the Great. She did add in some fantasy elements, but they are so close to what actually happened in history that it didn't feel magical. For example, Olympias (Alexander's mother) in Legacy of Kings has a mysterious magic involving sleeping with snakes and participating in occult rituals. Historically, Olympias did participate in occult rituals and was caught sleeping with a python (who thought to be the embodiment of Zeus) in her bed. Consequently, I felt like I was reading a very interesting text book on Alexander the Great and those who knew him--which is fine if that's what I was looking for, but it wasn't.
3) The writing lacks emotion. I knew what I should be feeling as I was reading but I didn't actually feel anything from it. Instead of being immersed into the characters' feelings and struggles, I felt like an objective spectator.
4) The characters all sound the same. At the beginning of each POV, I had trouble figuring out whose perspective I was reading from. Although they all have different personalities, it was hard to distinguish their voices and thoughts.
1) "You have quite an effect on my friend," Alex says, as the crowd parts before them.
"I hope it's the effect of a sharp knife on a blown-up pig bladder."
2) Theopompus leans forward in his chair, his turquoise eyes bright. "You all know I stand for negotiation, conciliation, and friendship among nations," he says, his white teeth flashing in a way that makes him look wolf-like. "But when so-called friends and allies plan an unprovoked attack, I say we crush them so thoroughly no ally of ours will ever consider such betrayal again."