Title: Legacy of Kings
Author: Eleanor Herman
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: August 18, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
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 a newcomer…
Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding 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 for her heart 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.
In Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman writes about a compelling group of characters all on the brink of becoming who their fated to be. This first book in the series feels like the coming-of-age story, where characters discover themselves and begin to take on their specific roles in fate.
While Alexander stands out as the notable historical figure (think: The Great), the story focused more on the surrounding characters, especially, Katerina. While I anticipated Alexander becoming who he’s famous to be, my interest stayed with Katerina—her mission and mysterious abilities. And while there’s supposed to be a great connection between Katerina and Alex, I never felt the connection, only kept hearing about it by the author’s insistence. Katerina and Jacob’s relationship also fell short for me. Eleanor Herman is better at plot than character development, which is somewhat problematic for a book about multiple characters.
Hephaestion and Cynane were also problematic characters. Half way through the book I was thinking Heph was the most block-headed, gullible character, but then it feels like he maybe was simply led astray by his lust…for a time. Because then I kind of like him. He seems more self-realized the second half of the book and his relationship with Katerina interests me. But, really, now that I think I know the character, his actions in the first part of the story don’t seem true to form, and that story arch rings false. Cyn too, Alex’s half sister, has a strange turn in the last part of the story, and I wasn’t sure what to think of it.
Zophia is totally disconnected from the immediate story. It’s clear she intersects with the other characters in the overarching story of the series, but it was difficult for me to care about her (the most childish and naive character) when elsewhere Katerina is discovering her magic, and Alex is preparing for battle. (Battle is another thing Eleanor Herman writes well.)
Despite some shortcomings, I liked the book. Herman creates a rich, Grecian world with echoes of the gods and mortal heroes. A truly evil queen, who writhes and undulates nude with serpents, plots against our protagonists, and a group of Lords with horned helmets vow to rid the city of evil magic (and give Alex his first opportunity to embrace his legacy). Magic gives the story a decidedly mysterious and unpredictable nature.
Would I let my teen read this book?
One thing I love about historical fiction is that there’s an opportunity to learn about a subject from history. I remembered little about the real Alexander the Great, so before I started this book, I looked him up. I learned a lot about his life, accomplishments, trusted advisers, family, and even some childhood stories—many of these facts included by Herman in Legacy of Kings.
Legacy of Kings will appeal to both boys and girls, and is appropriate for highschoolers. While the book is not graphic in most things, there are strong themes of violence and sexuality.
Age recommendation: 16
Language – none
Drugs & Alcohol— none
Sex – Several characters engage in sex, but there are no sex scenes, or kissing scenes; Several characters fantasias about sex, but visually, no more than legs embracing a body is described; Olympias (Alex’s evil mother) is involved in a dark magic and has a strange sexual relationship with her snakes.
Violence – There is a great battle were people are skewered, trampled, and sliced; characters fight with knives and swords; one person catches fire during a fight
My Goodreads rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Order Legacy of Kings on Amazon.com
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.