Legacy of Kings: Review

August 6, 2015 2.5 star books, fantasy, Uncategorized 28 ★★½

Legacy of Kings: ReviewLegacy of Kings on August 25, 2015
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Goodreads
two-half-stars
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.

Well, it looks like I missed the hype bus for this one. Legacy of Kings failed to engage me at the start and, unfortunately, the slow pace and predictable plot kept me from engaging throughout. This is a sort of “retelling” of the story of a young Alexander the Great, but with some minor fantastical element, namely magic. It’s like “history, but magic is real!” Awesome, right? Except when the characters are dryly drawn, the plot is ridiculously convenient, and there is nary a fresh twist or turn to be seen.

Clocking in at past 450 pages, this book could easily have done with a good bit of editing. There are seven POV characters, so if multi-POV makes you dizzy this is not going to be your thing. I normally love multi POV, but not here. The voices stretched so thin, and are so very repetitive. I feel like this book could have easily been 100 less pages if the characters hadn’t constantly and repetitively been internally monologuing. Each POV character would repeat their plot goal in every single chapter. It was to the point where I wanted to say each time, “Yes I understood your goal the first time you said it. You don’t have to repeatedly intone it in every single chapter.” I don’t know if it was thinking that switching between the POVs that readers would forget which character’s goals were which but you just need to have greater faith in YA readers’ ability than this. It made for a super tiring experience.

There are seven main POV characters. Alex, the noble heir to the warlord; Olympias, his ambitious and creepy mother who dabbles in magic. Kat, the village girl determined to take down the queen. Jacob, her childhood friend fighting to win Kat’s heart. Cyn, Alex’s half sister, determined to use any means to cut her own path through life. Hephaestion, Alex’s friend and brother of sorts who seems to be there only to serve as plot device. And Zo, a Persian princess and Alex’s would be fiancee. There are too many POVs and as long as the book is, the perspectives are stretched too thin and the characterization falls flat. This book would have greatly benefited from just one or two (mayyyyyybe three) POVs. For some of the characters, like Jacob and Heph, they seem to exist one dimensionally, to serve no purpose but to be there as part of their friend’s lives. The characters never feel like real people.

And oh my goodness, the vast majority of the plot is a plot of convenience and it’s ridiculous. The characters just move about doing whatever they want, whenever they want and the book caters to these whims. Kat wants to go to Pella to assassinate the queen. So she just leaves her town easy peasy and wouldn’t you know it? Finds herself immediately befriending Alex and getting invited to stay in the palace as a honored guest. What? How? At one point Kat leaves to go to Persia to learn some important magical lessons, and returns back to Macedon magically out of nowhere in the nick of time to fight in a battle. It’s absurd. Traveling in the ancient world took a good bit of time!

It’s fine enough when plot points are obvious but the story itself is entertaining. I mean, lord knows plenty of fantasy is repetitive, but it’s in the talent and skill of the author to make a rote story fresh. There are ostensibly mysteries and “reveals” in this story, but they’re so obvious and the rest of the story is so bland that it all adds up to a rather lackluster experience.

There’s the possibility that the third person present tense also bothered me irrationally. I suppose I’m mostly used to third person past when third person is deployed. The present tense was just…unsettling somehow. I wasn’t used to it and I found it rather distracting. I realize this is much more of a personal quirk than most but there you have it.

And this isn’t really the book’s fault but the marketing copy compares this to A Game of Thrones (I know, so many things do these days). This one might’ve had a better claim than most, but it pretty much stops at their both being historical fantasy with strong multi-POV emphasis. The depth of character, unpredictable twists, and willingness to take the story into dark and desperate places of GOT is entirely lacking in Legacy of Kings. And those books make the multi-POV work because there are several key characters, characters who are grand schemers, who know the ins and outs of politics and orchestrate political machinations who are not POV characters. If they were, the readers would know too much information and many great mysteries of the story would be redundant. In Legacy of Kings, all of the POV characters are these “information holders.” It’s not interesting to me when I see Heph struggling to figure out the strange goings-on around him when I already know, thanks to her POV, that these are Cyn’s manipulative machinations. It just makes me think that Heph must not be quite the brightest bulb if he can’t see that all of his troubles only started after Cyn took an interest in his life.

I get the sense, and maybe this is just me being cynical, that this is one of those times where I feel like an established author debuting in YA has a somewhat stereotypical idea of what YA is and then writes along those dotted lines. What romance there is seems tacked on just because that’s what you “do” in YA. Jacob loves Kat, and Kat has feelings somewhat maybe back. Alex and Kat have a “very mysterious connection.” Cyn seduces Heph, but Heph has feelings for Kat and she maybe somewhat has feelings back. There are ways to do this well, but it seems the sort of thing that you willingly sign up to when watching a CW soap, and not so much when you went to delve into historical fantasy.

And dramatic, out of place phrasing like this:

“‘Just go, Katerina.’ And she does, slipping away silently into the silver shadows. A moonbeam hits the spot where she stood. It looks achingly empty.”

I did not know that moonbeams had the capacity to look empty, yet alone achingly so. Apparently they do. If this doesn’t automatically stick out to you as ridiculous and melodramatic you might find yourself having a much better time with the text than I did.

I found this one a chore to get through and I admit I mostly skimmed the ending because I was so eager to just get it done with. The novel did earn some points where clearly a lot of care went into building the detail of this world, and there were times when characters seemed interesting enough to rise above the blandness of the plot. Overall, the story is slow, overlong and weighed down by too many perspectives from depthless characters. The total plot could have been effectively conveyed in half its page numbers.  Historical fantasy fans should look elsewhere for their entertainment.

 

 

 

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

 

kim teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

28 Responses to “Legacy of Kings: Review”

  1. Jenni

    I think with respect to the stereotypical YA storyline, it’s important to factor in that this is a series packaged by Paper Lantern Lit. I don’t have a problem with packaged books, but they do tend to feel like they’re trying tick all the usual boxes sometimes. Also, the “achingly empty” moonbeam sounds like a Lauren Oliver-ism to me ;)

  2. Lia

    Awwwww. I was so excited for this one! I’m still going to read it albeit with lower expectations. Yeesh 7 POVs??

  3. Aentee @ Read at Midnight

    Alexander the Great is one of my favourite historical figures, so I am still quite excited to read this book. However, 7 POV in just 450 pages is bound to stretch characterisations a bit thin, so I am worried about that. I also despise romances that just gets thrown in, not all YA novels need a romance – and you can totally tell when it’s there for marketing purposes rather than a necessity to the plot.
    Aentee @ Read at Midnight recently posted…Book Review: The Three Body Problem

  4. Lisa @ Bookish Broads

    Oh yes, this was one of my several DNF books this year. I gave it to 50 pages and knew that if we were going to have ALL these voices and ALL that melodramatic dialogue, I was out. So I’m relieved to see that I’m not alone on that!

    I get that this is totally going to work for some people, and I think that it definitely has! For me? Absolutely not.
    Lisa @ Bookish Broads recently posted…Burrito Bowl Book Tag

  5. Nikki

    Definitely sounds too melodramatic for my tastes. I’ll be skipping this one.

  6. Carina Olsen

    lol. I adore this review of yours Kim :) Thank you so much for being so honest. <3 I must say that I'm thrilled you disliked this book, lol. As I have only heard bad things about it. And I'm never reading it. And I'm so glad you didn't like it :) Though so sorry for you that it had to be so disappointing :\ That is never fun. Sigh. But your review is aawesome :D The POVs sounds so annoying. And oh my gosh, that romance thing seems so bad. Ugh. This book sounds like it could have been done amazingly. But it wasn't. And that is just.. such a shame. Sigh. Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweet girl :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: The Thickety: Well of Witches by J. A. White

  7. Muna B.

    Wow,I agree with you 100%, the characters were not developed enough for reader to feel connected and care about them.I had high expectations for this one, such a shame.

  8. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I felt very similar as you did though I think I enjoyed it a tiny bit more just because it never made it to ‘chore’ level (a few more pages and maybe). I thought the POVs were poorly executed and you are so right about the convenient plotting. Ugh. I guess the lack of travel was ok with me only because it would have added more pages to the already long book. I’m hoping that the arc will be edited down to give the final version a stronger flow and pacing. I felt zero chemistry and agree that it was predictable. I saw most of the ‘twists’ prior to the reveals and I agree that having all the info made for a less interesting read.
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Discussion- Blogging Oops.

  9. Nikki

    Yep, I’ve heard similar things from ALL corners about this book, and what used to be one of my most-anticipated reads of the year has now moved wayyyyyyyyy down the list. :( You listed a bunch of things that I’m sure would bother me as well — melodramatic phrasing, similar tones to all the POV’s, the plot of convenience… ESPECIALLY this: “I feel like an established author debuting in YA has a somewhat stereotypical idea of what YA is and then writes along those dotted lines.” <– this bothers me to no end, and to think it was done in a way that just leads to a lackluster book… *sigh* Yeah. Moving it down the TBR. Far, far down the TBR.

    • Kim

      I hadn’t realized this one was getting such middling to negative reviews but I’m glad to be validated by this news. It is such a bummer because it was one of my most anticipated too. I hope against hope that there’s some sort of book balance karma where when a book majorly disappoints you that means a book that’s completely unexpected will surprise you! If so, I have freed up some space there for a major surprise. :P

      This one gave me the exact same feeling I got reading Belzhar last year. The established adult author writing a stereotypical and hackneyed attempt at YA. Although, at least in this book’s case it’s not incredibly offensive and insensitive. Well, anyway, here’s to better books soon for the both of us!
      Kim recently posted…Legacy of Kings: Review

  10. Pili @ In Love With Handmade

    I’m at 43% right now and I’ve taken a break from reading it to read something else because all the POVs are getting on my nerves! So much switching and the progression is so slow!
    And now that I’ve read your review I’m not particularly enthusiastic to go back to it… oh well, if only to know what the hell happens in the end, right?
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…Blog Tour for The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett: Review & Giveaway!!!

    • Kim

      I love multi-POV if it’s done well! I love ASOIAF, I think, mainly because of the multi-POV. But comparing those two is just unfair. This book wishes it could have 1/10 of the depth that ASOIAF has. Also, and this might be a minor point, but ASOIAF always announces which POV it’s going into with the chapter heading. I love this and find it respectful of the audience that we don’t have to spend any time figuring out whose POV we are in. Stage is set from go. But anyway, that’s a minor point.

      If it’s just not calling to you I say don’t feel bad about DNF’ing it. You’re not missing out, I promise. Such a disappointment!
      Kim recently posted…Legacy of Kings: Review

    • Kim

      I put it down for over a week when I was about halfway through and I felt no desire to pick it back up and keep going. It’s a bad sign when you get that far into a book and literally could not care about what happens to any of the characters. This one SEEMED like it was going to have so much promise. It was one of my most anticipated of the year! And I think the premise is great, so it makes sense that both of us were so interested. Sadly the execution was lacking. Good luck if you decided to pick it back up!
      Kim recently posted…Legacy of Kings: Review

    • Kim

      Slow pacing isn’t always terrible. Sometimes a story needs a slow pace to lay out all of the groundwork for a story. That’s fine as long as it’s interesting. When it’s not interesting, though…that’s when things get unforgivable! :p
      Kim recently posted…Legacy of Kings: Review

  11. Lynette

    Oh man, you hit this book on the head. I am currently writing my own review on this book and all the points you made are going to be in it. The most irritating thing about this book is how much I REALLY wanted to love it!

    Specifically about the contents of the book, the most irritating thing was the fact that nothing was a mystery. One of the things I loved about Game of Thrones (because it was marketed as another GoT) is the fact that stuff was happening behind the POV characters back that you DIDN’T get explained to until WAY later. I also feel like a lot of my disconnection to the characters was that I was being “told” how they where feeling instead of being “shown”. A lot of the walking in the woods and fighting scenes could have been shortened to make way for a little more character development in that respect. That is, in my opinion.

    Can we also talk about authors making the sullen, best friend of the main girl character, who loves her but she doesn’t love back being named JACOB. COME on. That and the fact that I didn’t even KNOW these characters and in the first four page they were BAM in love.

    Sorry, my rant is over.

    • Kim

      Never apologize for rants! I’m happy to provide a space for commiseration! I really wanted to love it too. It was definitely one of my most anticipated reads this year too. It’s sad when a book becomes one of the year’s biggest disappointments instead.

      You are so right. There was a lot of telling not showing. It all just seemed so shallow and superficial. The storyline, the characters…it seemed like the book wasn’t really there because there was a story to be told, but because the author just wanted to get in on writing a YA novel. Maybe that’s cynical and unkind but this was the vibe I got throughout. This book could have been SO MUCH shorter with tighter editing. It wouldn’t’ve made it better, I don’t think, but it would have cut down on the amount of time I spent reading it.

      Ha I didn’t get the Jacob connection until you just pointed it out. But I’m so tired of these sad sack “love interests” who serve no purpose other than being a sad sack love interest. Make a character more interesting and dimensional than that!
      Kim recently posted…Legacy of Kings: Review

  12. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

    When I first heard about Legacy of Kings I was really excited and hopefully optimistic. Historical fantasy is my jam, I even requested it from the pub. But when I opened to a random page, the third person present surprised me. I’m not sure how much I’m going to like it. I’m also not a fan of the watermark on every page of the arc but that’s neither here nor there. And I don’t know if you’ve read Falling Kingdoms, but everything you mentioned is exactly the problems I had with that book. Repetition, flat characters, too many POVS. Makes me really nervous to start Legacy of Kings. Thank you for writing such a thorough review, it was great to read :)
    Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted…Bitsy Words: Jesse’s Girl | Stitching Snow | Serafina and the Black Cloak

    • Kim

      I was right there with you, girl. This one was highly coveted by me. I think I was so sad about not snagging one at BEA that Layla just felt plain bad for me and gave me this ARC (so I feel double bad that I didn’t enjoy it). Historical fantasy is the best! Being GOT fans I know how much we both love it. This one has no right making the comparison, though. All of the brilliance of the plotting and scheming in those books is entirely absent here. I haven’t read FALLING KINGDOMS but I’ve think I stayed away because I’ve heard such middling to negative things. Now I’m even more certain I will stay away from that series. I am eager to find out what you end up thinking of this one, though, if you decided to try it after all. I’ve seen some pretty positive responses so I’m interested to see how people with similar taste to me will find it.

      I also admit to being put off by the watermark. I got used to it after awhile and stopped even noticing it. But it was a principle of the matter. Yes, I understand that this is an ARC. I don’t need to be obnoxiously reminded on everything single page.
      Kim recently posted…Legacy of Kings: Review

  13. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I’m a huge fan of historical fantasy so I had really high hopes for this one, especially with that cover, but I won’t be checking it out now. I think romance is always a tough factor in a fantasy novel because it’s rarely done well and almost always feel tacked on to me, so that I could forgive, but I can’t read a novel where the character perspectives aren’t as fleshed out as I need them to be. Plus, this is also one of those genres where the plot can’t just be convenient–it has to be a series of political machinations that bring events about together. Maybe The Song of Ice and Fire has just ruined me for other books at this point. *sigh* Thanks for such an honest and helpful review, though, Kim! :)
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Monthly Rewind: July

    • Kim

      I was right there with you, Keertana. This was easily one of my most anticipated reads this year and now it’s one of my biggest disappointments. What a bummer. It’s incredible how so little could happen both with plot and with character development in such a long book. It almost blows my mind. And you are spot on with the machinations comment. I can’t imagine what such convenience the author thought would add to the story? Are we supposed to be entertained enough that we just buy it? Go along with it? The entertainment is supposed to be in the fun of the machinations! So frustrating. Probably ASOIAF has ruined both of us, but this one doesn’t even really try to have a crafty plot. Such a disappointment!
      Kim recently posted…Legacy of Kings: Review

  14. Alexa S.

    Can we please talk about how we have the same feelings towards Legacy of Kings? I agree so much with what you’ve said, particularly about the characters. I felt SO much disconnect with them, and I just couldn’t feel anything towards them.
    Alexa S. recently posted…Abbreviations #13: July Minis

    • Kim

      Well this makes sense since we so often agree on YA fantasy. I would almost blame the disconnect on the third person perspectives, but there are PLENTY of books written in third person that I have no problem connecting with. It was just the style of the writing more than anything. Everything was so surface level. All shallows, no depth. *sigh* I desperately need a new YA fantasy series to fall in love with. At least we’re less than a month away from QOS!!
      Kim recently posted…Legacy of Kings: Review