(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: Empire of Dust, Dawn of Legends
Published by Harlequin on September 1st 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Ancient Civilizations, Fantasy & Magic, Historical, Young Adult
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, Macedon's sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world, but finds himself drawn to a newcomer… Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while keeping hidden her own mission: kill the queen. But she doesn't account for her first love… Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander's unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters. Weaving fantasy with the shocking details of real history, New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings 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 know very little about Alexander the Great but the second I read the summary of Legacy of Kings I needed to have it in my hands. Thankfully I was able to grab a copy at BEA this year and I forced myself to wait a little while before I dove in but the second I started it, I didn’t want to put it down. A lot happens in this book and there are quite a few different points of view but all were appropriately placed and necessary. I am going to try to do this review spoiler free (hopefully) so I don’t ruin this book for anyone and really due to the length and number of characters, you can bet I won’t cover everything anyway.
The first character I’m going to talk about is Katerina. She has grown up an orphan because of the death of her mother. While she has spent the last ten years living in a small village with her friend Jacob and his family, they are both starting to realize that they are growing up and somewhat attracted to each other. On the day we are introduced to Kat, we find out that she has a secret. She has always had a connection with animals and these days she is pushing to figure out what it really means.
On the same day we are introduced to Jacob. Jacob is the strongest boy in the village and this year he was chosen to be Larissa’s (the village they live in) contestant in The Blood Tournament. He is so proud and when he tells Kat, he clearly expects her share in his excitement. Instead, she is afraid for him because she knows the village boys are never lucky enough to make it out of the arena alive and now that she knows they both have feelings for each other, she is worried she will never see him alive again once he leaves.
See, The Blood Tournament is held in an arena and the event is supposed to honor the participants for their bravery but the landscape features natural challenges combined with fighting taking place all over. A single victor is named by the crowd and the King but no one from the villages has ever won and few of them even survive so now you know why Kat is worried about Jacob. As Jacob heads out, Kat manages to follow him and stay hidden until it is too late to turn around and as they get to Pella, Jacob joins the group headed for the stadium.
Things move quickly in this story and as the tournament comes to a close, things change drastically for both Kat and Jacob. Jacob comes out of the tournament the victor and as odd as that is, he is also able to now join the royal army which means he will be staying in Pella indefinitely. As for Kat, she never wavered in her hope that Jacob would win and when she ends up winning a lot of money and then punching a drunk Lord who tried to take her winnings back, she draws the attention of Prince Alexander and his closest friend, Heph.
Alexander is the heir to the throne but he has always seen himself as slightly damaged due to his limp and issue with his leg. Because of this, he has a goal of searching for the Fountain of Youth, which he believes will heal his leg and make him stronger. With Heph losing the tournament, they have lost the access they need to money and now with his father leaving Pella, Alex knows he is really just a figurehead leader.
Again, there are a lot of moving parts here but I really liked Alexander as a character. He is drawn to Kat in a way he can’t explain and she is drawn to him but neither of them have romantic feelings for each other…it is something else entirely. I’m not going to say much more here about that but the impact that this new friendship Alex has on his friendship with Heph is the key. As Alex and Kat begin to spend more time together, Heph is spending more time with Cyn, Alex’s half-sister, and a wedge begins to form between the two friends. This is really only due to the fact that they just aren’t talking to each other and confiding what they are doing and Cyn, who is whispering things to Heph to make him doubt their friendship.
So first, Cyn is not my favorite. I can sympathize with her regarding her mother’s fate and what she has experienced in her life but she could have taken another path to get what she wanted. The fact that she didn’t care about anyone and was willing to throw both Heph and Alex under the bus…and really anyone else who got in her way, made her one of those characters that I just wanted to punch.
Another important person in this story is Alexander’s mother. She is definitely a piece of work and willing to do anything for power. She was creepy and when you really find out what she is up to, you will agree with me on this whole thing. And if you don’t, I don’t know if we can be friends (I’m kidding, although I might judge you a little).
I loved how Herman built up this world and created these characters. Everything is so realistic yet still has that Fantasy feel to it. The characters are what really make this book and as I mentioned, you do get quite a few points of view but as a reader, it was important to see all these different perspectives to really see what was going on.
Now, I have really only given you a glimpse of what this story is really about and I’m pretty sure some of it is me just rambling on. Regardless, this book sets the stage for the rest of this epic story and I am sure I haven’t done this much justice – mainly because I don’t want to ruin any bit of the book for readers. Trust me when I say that if you like a detailed story that brings in pieces of history and ties it back to a Fantasy story, you should definitely check this out. The second I picked it up, I was unwilling to put it down. I can’t even tell you how excited I am to get my hands on the next book of this series as I look forward to learning more about these characters and where they are headed.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy!