Book Review: Legacy of Kings
By: Eleanor Herman
Published By: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Alexander the Great is one of those historical figures we all have heard of, but can you truly explain his role in history aside from knowing he conquered vast amounts of territory? What truly made him great? Sadly, even as a history nerd, my understanding of Alexander's contributions to history is superficial at best. I jumped at the chance to dive into this fictitious rendering of his rise to power.
One thing I noticed right away was the beautiful way that Herman's prose ties together history and the mystical. Magic plays a significant role in this tale, but it is done in a way that seems plausible for the time period. People still worshipped the Greek Gods and Goddesses. I have often imagined that time to be an intriguing one to live in as there was a blurring between the lines of reality and magic. It seems like a time period when things like a Pegasus existing where not only probable, but likely. Granted, I would want a time machine to bring me back to modern times ASAP when diseases, war, and ridiculous gender expectations reared their ugly heads.
Another thing that became quickly apparent was that this novel was not simply a story about the teenage Alexander. There is a wide and vibrant cast of characters including Kat, Jacob, Heph, Cyn, and Zo. At times, it became daunting to keep all of these key players straight in my mind. I also was slightly irked that the moment I would settle into a story and get fully entrenched in a characters' experiences and point of view, the chapter would end and a new character would be driving the story. It took awhile for me to become comfortable with the constant shifting between characters.
My favorite character in this one was Kat. She is a strong female when women were supposed to be beautiful, mindless, and silent. Kat lashes out against that trend from the opening chapter when she reveals that she is plotting to assassinate the Queen. As the story unfolds, more of Kat's personal history comes to life. I found everything about her to be intriguing. I am slightly nervous though as it seems Kat may find herself in the middle of a love triangle in the next installment. I can only hope I'm wrong and that her heart remains true to the one who has had it from the beginning.
The historical pieces in this one were vivid and fascinating. I felt like I was in the middle of the action from the opening chapter. Herman lures you into this ancient world painted with peril, foreign technology, political intrigue, and magic. I was reminded numerous times while reading of Greek mythology as heroes tackled unsurmountable odds, braved the unknown on adventures, and fought to find the answers to questions about their past and future.
The magic was another favorite aspect. I loved how Herman explains the various forms of magic in this world. It makes me wonder if such forms of magic were common beliefs in Alexander's time.
As a result of reading this one, I want to know more about Alexander the Great and Macedon. I'm not sure how I will wait until September 2016 to find out what happens next. Legacy of Kings is a gem that will appeal to historical and fantasy readers alike.
One Last Gripe: The novel ends with a ton of loose ends. I know it's a series and that's part of what keeps me waiting for the next installment, but I felt a strong lack of resolution with this one. Zo's situation, in particular, has me anxious.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The melding of history and fantasy
First Sentence: Katerina races across the meadow, scanning for any roots or rocks in her way.
Favorite Character: Kat
Least Favorite Character: Olympias
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.