Legacy actually starts off strong, with a dramatic opening sentence that immediately reeled me in and left me eager to read more.
- The First boy disappeared on the day of his birth, on a night when the pale yellow moon that ruled the sky turned red and bathed the heavens in the ghastly color of blood, the same night the Empire of Cokyri abruptly ceased its merciless attack.
In tight prose the prologue describes the mysterious disappearance of infant boys throughout the kingdom of Hytancian, and the discovery of the infants’ bodies a short time later. But just as the king was forced to take notice, the kidnappings stopped. When the bodies were counted up all of them were accounted for but one, the son of a wealthy noble family. No one ever discovered who was behind these murders, but the king was so relieved by the peace that followed that the matter was never fully investigated.
Seventeen years later princess Alera faces her upcoming birthday with dread. Within a year she must announce the name of the man she will marry, the man who will be king, and the only candidate who her father approves of is an obnoxious noble that Alera detests. Even though the women of Hytancian have no power it is traditional for the princess to choose her own husband and Alera is desperate to find an alternative to the horrid, but handsome, Lord Steldor. To placate her father Alera agrees to allow Steldor to court her, all the time dreading each moment forced to spend in his company.
When a young Cokyri intruder is discovered within Hytancian and taken captive, Alera finds something new to occupy her attention. Tensions are suddenly high but no one will tell her, a mere woman, anything of any importance. But Alera finds her own way to maneuver around the shields around her, and eventually comes into direct contact with the Cokyri boy, Narian. Narian is different from anyone that Alera has ever met and she is fascinated by him and by the foreign culture he grew up in, where women actually hold power over men. Slowly the two grow closer and Alera finds herself falling for this boy that she knows she can’t be with.
While Alera struggles with the difficult decision that she knows she needs to make the kingdom begins gearing up for a possible war with the Cokyri, all of which somehow involves the boy Narian, and the startling secrets of his past.
So as I mentioned, the story started off pretty strong and for the first couple of chapters I had some high hopes for this book. Unfortunately they came crashing down pretty quickly, mostly around the time that I decided I wanted to strangle princess Alera. That girl just drove me crazy. At first I felt sympathetic towards her. Steldor did seem like an arrogant brat and I could understand why Alera wouldn’t want to marry him and why she would be frustrated by her father’s pressure to do so. But for some reason (which doesn’t really make much sense in a kingdom where women are considered to have no have no brainpower) Alera has the option to choose someone else to marry, but instead of actually making an effort to find another suitable man all she does is whine about how much she dislikes Steldor. And then when Alera gets asked if there is anyone else she can suggest instead, she answers no. So pretty quickly any sympathy that I had for Alera vanished and I started feeling bad for Steldor at having to try to court her.
The story also moved forward much too slowly. I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the story, based on the book blurb, but I was still interested in seeing how it plays out. But it just took way too long to get anywhere. There are a lot of descriptions of clothing and of meetings between Steldor and Alera, most of which were pretty repetitive. Meanwhile I was impatiently waiting for the appearance of Narian, who I knew was supposed to be at the center of the story, but he doesn’t come along until half-way though the book. And then he doesn’t even stick around long enough to really get to know him.
While I had a hard time connecting with any of the central characters I do think that Kulver did a pretty good job in building her secondary characters, which is an area that many authors neglect. But I really enjoyed getting to know the king’s guards, especially those assigned to the princesses, and they came to life for me in a way that few of the other characters did.
There were also several instances where the dialogue was so ridiculously unrealistic that I had to set the book aside. Unfortunately most of it attributed to Alera's guard, Lincoln, who I really liked and it kind of messed things up for me when he spoke like a ten year old child instead of a member of the king's elite guard.
I will say this about the book, it definitely did not head in the direction that I had expected it to. Several times I was tempted to give up on it but I kept reading because I just wanted to know how all the knots would be untangled, and the story resolved. And while I usually enjoy surprise endings, this one I did not. Perhaps if the story had actually ended there I would have been satisfied and maybe even pleased at the unexpected resolution, but it’s just a jagged cliffhanger that left me teetering at the edge, confused and irritable. I felt like my efforts to finish the book were not paid off because all the knots were still there, along with some new ones.
On her web page Kluver mentions that she did a bit of editing to the book when it was accepted by Harlequin for publication, and I did get the sense that some parts of the book were more polished then others. For this reason I’m curious to see what kind of story-telling Kluver is capable of now and this curiosity might tempt me to pick up another one of her books, written more recently. I don’t think it will be this series though.
While Legacy did not work out for me I think that younger readers, perhaps in their mid-teens, will probably enjoy the story and its angsty protagonist more than I did. Teens will likely also be charmed by the young author and the interesting history of Legacy.
Legacy was provided for me by NetGalley for review