Sep 24, 2015

Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

TitleLegacy of Kings
Author: Eleanor Herman
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publishing Date: August 18, 2015
Pages/Format: 384, ARC
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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.

Book in One Word: Dethroned

Prior to reading Legacy of Kings, I'd seen it around here and there, but didn't have much interest in it. (Plus the ARC cover made me think it was an Adult romance novel.) But eventually I looked into it, and possibly saw some hype, and I decided I want to read it. I mean, it's about Alexander the Great, so that's pretty cool, right? Perhaps so, but the book itself? Let's just say any legacy left behind probably isn't a very good one.

I was only a couple pages into Legacy of Kings before I learned that the writing style was the kind I'm generally not a fan of. Too many sentences read like fragments, or were trying too hard to be good sentences, every guy was handsome and broad shouldered and every person needed these descriptors and blah blah blah. It didn't help that there were more points of view than I could count on one hand, and that all the voices were nearly identical. There's also a glaring problem with having so many points of view, especially with little differentiation, in the first book of a series: the reader gets no time to connect to characters and see their growth. I think there actually was character growth, since I was told about it by a character, but because I wasn't in the point of view of the character who underwent the growth, I didn't get to see said growth--or progressions or whatever--happen. I also missed things. For example, in the beginning of the book, two characters who are attracted to each other spend what I'm assuming is at least several days travelling together from one place to another, and I would assume such travelling would call for some, er, scenes, but when they're travelling we're in someone else's point of view, so we don't get to see what happened in the woods. That was an excellent opportunity to get the reader attached to characters, a ship, and to show romantic development, but it was totally missed. At the end of the book, there's really only one point of view that I somewhat care about. As for the others, I was rudely tricked by several things that happened at the end that make me want to stupidly know what might happen in the next book. I don't want to read the second book, but I kind of do, and it's ridiculous.

I think another problem with Legacy of Kings was that I couldn't properly picture it. I kept thinking of that Tut special and Pompeii, and, just, no. I guess this book just lacked quality? It didn't lack detail--everything was described. Well, everything physical. Characters, aside from their looks, not so much. I mean, I didn't hate this book, and I kept reading it and it was fast-paced, but this is most certainly not the best book. You just can't throw this many points of view at us in the first book of a series and not differentiate their voices and fail to show their growth. In the end, it just doesn't work. It's like when you're building a house. If you don't use nails and all that stuff, the house may still look good, but on the inside, it's going to fall apart.

All that aside, despite everything, Legacy of Kings definitely had some likableness. Even though they lacked differentiation, I did like some of the characters and found some of them--and their stories and motivations, for they all have different ones--to be interesting. I have an idea for something I want to happen with Zofia, and at the moment, I believe hers is the story I want to know more about in the next book most. I liked Alexander, and how he was a generally good guy but didn't look like freaking Hercules. I was also a fan of Hephaestion (kind of a lot, and he's screaming for more page-time), and Katerina and Jacob. Alex's half-sister Cyn was one of the more difficult characters because she's so mischievous, but I really liked how, despite being a woman in that era, she still fought to play just like the boys did. If she wanted to fight, she would fight, and get bloodied, too. And then there's the Queen, who's just hella crazy.

Another thing I liked was the era--which was, like, forever ago. I don't know, when was Alexander the Great around? And it's set in Persia and Macedonia, areas I don't see a lot in fiction. Both these elements helped make the book refreshing, because they're not very common, so it was nice and new. (For example, there are certain eras and settings we see in books all the time, and while we may like those, it's also nice to get something new sometimes.) There's also a slight mix in where the characters are in those locations; we get to see royal life and low class life and life on the road. So that was nice! And it was a quick read, which tends to be pleasant.

In the end, and as you can probably guess, Legacy of Kings just did not work for me. At the core, the problem was the execution: the writing style isn't my favorite, and there were just too many points of view, which resulted in no visual character growth and character voices jumbling together. I think that if the points of view were cut in half and the story didn't keep jumping around between storylines and locations and all that, it could've been more successful. Though it did have some positive points, which was good. But as is, this is a legacy that won't go down in the history books.

Did I like it? Not really.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? No.
Would I purchase it? No.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of history (especially the time of Alexander the Great), a large cast of characters, and interesting, crossing storylines.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Great review - I've been intrigued by this one, so I might still give it a try, but it really sucks when the writing style doesn't work for you. It can make for a crappy reading experience, no matter how good or bad the plot is!

  2. Your review is very spot-on for how I felt about the book, but I did end up liking it and AM kinda intrigued about the sequel against my better judgment. But the multi-POV just did not work here, for all the reasons you suggested, and most especially because you couldn't form any deep connection with any one of the characters, nor did they have growth. I know this was the first book in the series, and it's supposed to be a sort of introduction to the world and the people, but it really didn't work well here. I'm just hoping the sequel will clean up all of the wandering storylines and give us more insight into the characters. A positive point was that I never really got bored, just indifferent. And I liked the setting, and the history, even though I don't remember much about Alexander the Great.

    Great review, Rachel!

  3. yeah.... see, I was sort of intrigued about the story and what was going to happen but after like two weeks of trying to slog through it and having to FORCE myself to read... I just stopped and dnfed. WAY too many POVs and the tense was weird and I didn't have any connections with the characters either. It all sort of seemed forced and stilted.


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