Friday, August 14, 2015

ARC Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Title: Legacy of Kings
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #1
Author: Eleanor Herman
Published: August 18, 2015 by Harlequin Teen 
(Amazon / Goodreads)

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 fiancĂ©e, 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 received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

I really wanted to love this book. It seems like a total "me book." I'm a sucker for Greek mythology and ancient history plus YA fantasy is my kryponite so this had all that together. With the historical setting of the Hellenistic period and lots of fantasy elements and magic, this should have been the perfect book for me. And while it did have some really great elements, in the end it was just okay for me.

There are really a lot of things to love about this book. One of my favorite things about this book is the historical setting. I love when an author does their research and the history comes alive. Here, the author is a historian writing fiction for the first time and it shows. She takes real historical figures like Alexander the Great and his family and adds fiction characters and situations to the mix. At times it reads so much like a historical text that you may even question what actually happened. Fans of historical fiction will probably agree with me in saying that, that is a good thing. But the other great thing about the hstorical setting is the rich detail that Herman used. Whether it's explaining the clothing, the locations, or the battle scenes it's all is explained in exquisite detail that helps you perfectly visualize the period and the setting of the book. The historical setting is fantastic and full of rich detail that make it one of the best things about this book.

I also really loved the fantasy elements of this book. You could actually argue that a lot of this was also based on the actual history. This is a culture whose every day life incorporated spiritual, and arguably, magical elements. It seemed perfectly natural to read about talk of oracles, the Gods interfering in daily life, and sacrifices. A few of my favorite characters were the ones who had a direct tie to the more magical elements of the story.  And we've only scratched the surface of the magical system, the history, and the prophecies at play here. This book really lay the groundwork for that part of the world and I know that will be a bigger part of the series as it develops.

But while the idea behind the prophecy and magic in this world was good, the mystery didn't work for me. If you follow me on Goodreads or even Twitter, I'm sure you saw my whining about the mystery here and how I went through the Five Stages of Bookish Grief. I figured it out pretty early on, which in and of itself isn't a bad thing but the reveal didn't happen until much later and it started to feel frustrating. The character was doing a good job of searching for clues, which I always like, it's not like the narrative was telling us to pay no attention to the mystery. But instead every time I thought she was going to find out the truth something outrageous would prevent her from getting verification and it got to be frustrating and like it was taking away from the general plot develop. But that plot development too was a bit muddled.

You see there are a lot of moving parts here. The book is told from seven different perspectives. Fantasy novels love doing this, don't they. They like showing us all different sides of the story and letting us connect with all different characters, That's exactly what happens here. There's no clear antagonist or protagonist because each character is one or the other at different times. I usually love that. You get to know them on a deeper level and it gives them a really odious nature. That did in fact happen and for some characters it was a really good thing and made them complex and interesting but it also got in the way of connecting with them, especially hen it came to the exposition part of the story. Many of the perspectives overlap but it isn't until the very end until they all come together and until then, the constant change in perspectives was a bit overwhelming.

But in terms of the characters there were definitely some really great ones. Arguably the two main characters are Alex (a young Alexander the Great) and Katerina or Kat. They both had really interesting storylines that incorporated most if not all of the other POV characters in some way. Kat's desire for knowledge, and let's face it revenge, was compelling and she had some good character development. Alex too had some great development but to a lesser degree. I think the book would have been perfectly engaging if it was just those two who took center stage. But then we wouldn't have had my favorite perspective, which is Cyn. Her storyline was fascinating and I wish she got a bit more of the limelight. Then there were other characters whose perspectives don't seem to fit in yet. I liked Zofia's storyline, it was definitely interesting but it doesn't make sense to the larger story yet and I think would have been better suited as a novella at this point and then added to the larger story when it fit with the full narrative. Same thing with Jacob, although he did fit into the central plot. In general the characters were interesting and complex.

On the whole Legacy of Kings was an entertaining read. It suffered a bit from First Book Syndrome but I am interested to see where things go with the series. Many elements didn't work for me like the mystery and the constantly changing perspectives but it also had a lot to like including a great historical setting. an interesting fantasy world, and complex characters.

I give Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman 7.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. But if you are not a fan of books with lots of point of views you may want to pass on this one. Fans of historical fiction. especially if you like historical fantasy or fantasy should check this book out. It had a lot of really great elements especially in terms of the setting and world-building.

Have you read Legacy of Kings? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. It was great talking with some of you about it on Twitter when I finished reading so feel free to chat with me there about this and other things. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I'm glad this one was good, even if not perfect! It's on my shelf right now and I'm SUPER excited to read it because I love historical fantasy and I met the author and she is a bamf. As in, she wore a Grecian costume to the HarlequinTeen breakfast and was SO cool. And maybe as she writes more fiction, her plotting will mature.

    Sarcasm & Lemons

    1. YES! I met her at BEA too and she was so cool. I love that she wore the costume and had props. I'm also a big fan of historical fantasy. And yeah, I should sort of treat this as a debut because this is her first work of fiction. I'm not giving up on the series though, it was a good first book.

  2. It's too bad that this one didn't work out all that well for you. I just saw it for the first time somewhere on Waiting on Wednesday and I was kind of on the fence about it, but honestly I think I'll pass now. I HATE it when I know the big reveal way too early. I read Snow Like Ashes recently and knew the twist from the first couple chapters. It really ruins the experience!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. This may be one you should wait on until more of the series is out. And I remember how you were with Snow Like Ashes so this one might annoy you even more. It was sort of similarly revealed.

  3. I'm glad to hear that this one worked better for you than it did for me in the end! I've ended up DNFing it... I just didn't feel like going back to reading it at all!
    Great review Cassie!

    1. That's fair Pili. I don't know, I'm glad I finished it but had I DNF'ed it wouldn't have been the end of the world. I know you found all the perspectives frustrating and I hear you on that.

  4. I'm a huge fan of Greek mythology and history as well, and I'm sure Eleanor's got those parts down. :) Plus all settings are sometimes my favorite things about books, so I'm excited for the gorgeous historical setting in this. I'm really scared about all those POVs, though. Sometimes books written in just 3 POVs confuse the heck out of me already, so 7 POVs? *shudders* Awesome review, Cassie!

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

    1. Me too! The setting is usually one of my favorite things. I read as an escape sometimes so I like a real vivid world that helps me immerse myself in something different. It's one of the reasons I love high fantasy so much. This was a great world. But yes, a lot of perspectives.

  5. I actually really loved this one, despite all the many POV's. I did think there were a few too many. I mean, we don't have to know what every single person in the book is thinking, right? I think that, of all of them, Zofia's POV contributed the least to the book. Her chapters were unnecessary and a bit boring. I did figure out part of the mystery ahead of time, but not all of it. I am still really looking forward to this sequel.

    1. I'm glad you loved this one. I've definitely heard some great things about it. I'm not a big fan of books that have multiple perspectives in general so that was a big part of it for me. But I agree, we didn't need to know what everyone was thinking. It could just be laying the foundation for later in the series which sometimes happens.