Monday, February 4, 2013

Legacy, by Cayla Kluver- Review

From Goodreads:
I noticed his eyes. They were blue, sharp and intense. Despite the youthful glows of his suntanned face, his eyes were cold and unfriendly, suggesting he had great experience in the world and was now expecting the worst.
In her seventeenth year, Princess Alera of Hytanica faces one duty: to marry the man who will be king. But her father's choice of suitor fills her with despair.

When the palace guard captures and intruder, a boy her age with steel-blue eyes, hailing from her kingdom's greatest enemy. Alera is alarmed and intrigued. But she could not have guessed that their clandestine meetings would unveil the dark legacy shadowing both their lands.

In this mystical world of court conspiracies and blood magic, loyalties will be tested. Courage won't be enough. And as the battle begins for everything Alera holds dear, love may be the downfall of a kingdom

  The first two books in this series have been sitting on my shelf forever.  I picked up book two at the BEA, signed by the author in one of the group signings, and so shortly after I got home I picked up book one so that I could give it a try.  Then recently my Zellers went into sell-off mode (Target better be as good as everyone says because I loved me my Zellers), and they had the final part, Sacrifice on for 40% off.  It seemed like this was the sign I'd been waiting for to dig in.
Let me start by saying Legacy didn't blow me away.  It had enough going on to keep me interested, but not riveted, and although I was intrigued by the relationships and characters I felt like Kluver wasn't giving me enough of anyone to really make me feel like I got them. 

So lets start with the plot. At 488 pages, this is a sizable paperback.  As I got deeper and deeper into it, the hubby kept asking "Well? So how is it?"  full well knowing I'd wildly committed myself to a three part series without having a clue about the writer or these books.  I had to keep giving him an indifferent shrug while telling him not much had happened yet, because, it hadn't.  Seriously.  I took more than 300 pages for things to really start happening.

This would not have been a problem if the first 300 pages had been dedicated to some heavy world and character development, but it was not.  Everyone, including Alera herself, seemed like an outline of a character instead of a true depth filled person.  It was frustrating to read, but it also left me fairly ambivalent to Alera's relationships and circumstances. 

I also found a number of things about the set up confusing.  Alera, at 17 years old, is the heir to the throne and is expected to pick a husband and take the throne by her 18th birthday.  It is explained relatively slowly, that her father and mother have been supposedly grooming her for this all her life, since although they are free to hold the throne longer, her father does not want to, and is in fact eager to give it up.  However, women do not rule but are simply figure heads in Hytanica, so really a suitor has long ago been chosen and groomed for the position.  Be that as it may, there is this charade for the first 440 pages that somehow Alera has a choice in this matter, when it is obvious she does not, and she spends the majority of her energy and year of freedom fighting the inevitable.  And by fighting, I mean she really puts on a childish show with lots of foot stamping and pouting about how much she dislikes the man who has been chosen for her, and how she feels she should be able to love her future husband and King.  This is only one of the many glaring reasons it seems apparent her parents have not groomed her for this position at all, which undermines the fact that her parents have been planning this abdication all her life.

I had serious issues reconciling these issues.  There is no way a princess would be raised to be anything but compliant to her parents wishes if A- she was never going to have power in her reign anyhow and B- it was always intended she would have an arranged marriage as it was obviously in the countries best interest to have a groomed King, since he is the one in power.  There is mention at one point that Alera met Steldor when she was 10 years old, and the allusion is that even then she knew he was intended to be her husband.  You would think that, however much she dislikes him,  by age 17 she would be resigned to the fact she was stuck with him.

Which brings me to my next point. The love triangle built in Legacy is very thin at best.  Steldor is presented as an egotistical buffoon, who Alera loathes, and yet any time he forces a kiss on her she becomes all light headed and swoony, which is ridiculous (especially as the reason given is his smell).
"You enchant me, Alera," He whispered, leaning in close to me, and my senses reeled from his rich and alluring scent.  It was deep and musky, but with the warmth of nutmeg and cinnamon, woven with a wistful hing of violet.  As the fragrance washed over me, he played with a strand of my hair, then slid his hand to the base of my neck and pressed his lips against mine in a firm and entirely unwelcome kiss.
At no point is Steldor given a single redeeming feature or presented as anything other than a buffoon, until the very very end of the book when his father alludes to some finer, hidden character. Alera's supposed hatred of him is then undermined by every time he kisses her and she is overcome, yet you're supposed to buy, right up until the end of the book, that she loathes him.

 Then you have Narian.  In opposition to Steldor's aggressiveness he should be the shining star, and in some ways he is.  But he is also so deeply secretive and reserved, and Kluver really gives us no insight into him, so he just ends up coming across as cold and unknowable.  In the end, neither of the boys seemed the slightest bit appealing to me, so Alera's big choice between them seemed somewhat silly. What's worse is she freely admits to knowing nothing about Narian, and also to feeling as if she shouldn't trust him, but she does, and despite all these draw backs, she is quite madly in love with him.  It makes Alera look silly and immature, and it really caused me to loose sympathy for her.

The smallest measure at the end of the book is what saved me from giving up.  With a small reveal from Steldors father about a possible finer personality hidden in his rough exterior, with Steldor's actions in the final pages, and with Alera's final breakdown and acceptance of her position there was a glimmer of something better coming in book the second (thank god! because either way I had two enormous books more to read!).

Fingers crossed the improvement is worth it!

Legacy, by Cayla Kluver
Published by Harlequin Teen, June 2011
Buy Legacy on Amazon

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