Review: Legacy by Cayla Kluver

Book: Legacy
Author: Cayla Kluver
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: June 28, 2011
Source: ARC from NetGalley

Summary: (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 intruderâ??a boy her age with steel-blue eyes, hailing from her kingdom’s greatest enemyâ??Alera is alarmedâ?¦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.

First impressions: The rich detail of this world is captivating. I started reading thinking I’d just get through the first few pages, and ended up reading for a half hour.

Lasting impressions: This book stuck with me longer than I expected. Whether it was the level of detail or just good storytelling, I thought about this book whenever I wasn’t reading it.

Conflicting impressions: The attention to detail also became tiresome. It slowed down the pace a lot, and felt unnecessary.

Overall impressions: This is one of those books when I wish I used half stars. The world here is complex and well developed, reading more like a historical than a fantasy. Other than the setting, there wasn’t much I would characterize as fantasy. I mean, it’s a made-up world, but there’s no magic or unique creatures or abilities to be found. I couldn’t tell if the author intended to create a unique political or social structure and just didn’t succeed, or if she didn’t have the energy to research an actual historical setting in which to place her story.

I didn’t mind the setting – don’t get me wrong. I wish it had contained some more unique elements other than names and a few social customs. I think that could have given this fantasy some more teeth. Instead it became a story about a princess who can’t decide whether to marry for duty or love.

There is a lot of description in this book, which bogged down the narrative. For a reader like me, who tends to skim over descriptions anyway (I like to picture characters as their voices come to me), this wasn’t overly bothersome. I did notice, though, that I was skimming through multiple pages of narrative just to get past the dry bits.

Alera holds the distinction of being the first character I can think of that I came to like less as the book went on. She starts out being a friendly, likeable girl, but starts to make some questionable choices that strained her credibility in my mind. She betrays friends, acts selfishly, and is determinedly mean to her suitor. Despite all this, I enjoyed being in her head and following her journey. She’s acting out against a society that shows little regard for women, so I forgave some of her flaws.

All of the characters in the book are complex, though sometimes confusing. I loved London, Alera’s bodyguard, whose loyalty also comes into question, but is by far the most enjoyable character to read. He’s funny, snarky, and gruff. Alera’s suitor and soon-to-be betrothed, Steldor, is an egotistical ladies man who starts off being hated and ended up growing on me. The fact that Alera despises him is enough for me not to like him, but I did find myself agreeing with him when he told her she made it worse by making herself miserable. She wallows in self-pity every time she’s forced to be in his presence, when really he could be worse. Finally there’s Narian, Alera’s true love interest, who had dual ties to Alera’s home country and the warring neighbor to the north.

For all of the complexities in the characterization, there is very little in the plot. Two countries are at war, the heir of one falls in love with a boy destined to lead the other, and heartache ensues. Alera is supposed to have some semblance of a choice here, but by the end she actually is not given much of a choice at all. The entire book leads us to think that something interesting is going to come up, or that Alera will realize her potential as a ruler, or that her love of Narian will incite some kind of action. Instead, it ends with one of the most miserable scenes I’ve ever read.

Huh. I think I’ve just convinced myself I don’t like this book much after all.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system
Want a different perspective? Read this rave review by Books with Bite.

12 thoughts on “Review: Legacy by Cayla Kluver

  1. Nice review. I think the description of this historical setting was pretty awesome myself, but I had to put this one down because the attention to detail was so…detailed! I think I got about 40% through and was wondering when the heck something exciting was going to happen. I can tell where the story is going, so I do plan to pick it up again, but sheesh…

  2. I've read so many different opinions on this one that it's definitely going to be a while before I get to it. If ever. Especially since it ends so miserably. 😛

  3. For all her descriptions, I really wish the world building had been better. When I saw they were celebrating Christmas, my eye started twitching. Just…no. What did you think about Narian? That end really was pretty miserable. And why?? *I* wouldn't be miserable if I were in her shoes. Give me some hate-turned-love with a sexy (and, really, pretty sensitive) swordsman and I certainly wouldn't be sleeping on the couch!

  4. Too much detail just pulls you out. Plus, if the ending is bad… don't think this one is for me. Especially when you just didn't think the world built worked. I do love the way it seemed like you loved it/hated it/loved/hated the book. Sometimes it just goes that way. 🙂

  5. This book sounds amazing! But I have to agree with you about the descriptions and how TOO much detail can really slow the pace down. I still want to add this to my TBR list though!

  6. @Smash – I kept waiting for the excitement as well, but it never showed up. There were moments, but overall the plot arc lacked tension and excitement for me.@Small – Disagree! I would have been just as miserable! I just don't trust Steldor. He creeps me out. I liked Narian much better and thought his thievery and sudden appearances made him interesting.@Melissa – Right? I did so much flip-flopping on this one!@BookGeek – It has a lot of fans, so I say go for it!

  7. Logan! *cracks up* 'Huh. I think I've just convinced myself I don't like this book much after all.'You're right about that. It wasn't until I'd finished my own review that I was able to really sort out my feelings. But, honestly, Alera went down a few notches in my book when she became such a jerk toward Steldor. I don't get how one can be so miserable, as Smalls pointed out, when a gorgeous, potentially wonderful guy has just offered to undress you! Why sleep on the couch and wallow? Honestly, I say Narian can go stay hidden away in his mountains or hills or wherever he went off to. But, I love the way you wrote this review. Addressed all of the good and bad points, but you didn't completely shoot it down. You wrote down a replica of my feelings, but made it sound so much more eloquent! ~ Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  8. Score! You know what this means now, don't you? Double date!! You take Narian and I'll take Steldor. Oooh, and we can make them fight again like sexy gladiators and we can watch and giggle and it will be like Medieval Times.

  9. Heh, how funny that you changed your mind about the book while writing your review. I really don't know what to think about this one myself. I see a very positive review one moment, then a negative review the next. I think the negative reviews may be winning though. I'm disappointed that you say there wasn't much in here to be classified as fantasy, because that makes me immediately think, well what's the point then for me to read it? I don't know, I think I'll pass. Thanks for the review!

  10. @Asher – Noooo! Bring my Narian back! You and Smalls can keep Steldor.@Smalls – I'm on board with the double date. Alera's sister was so much more interesting that I welcomed any double dating in the book. I think we would be awesome double daters and I will insist on our own personal Medieval Times. In fact, if ever our little bloggy group of alpha male lovers gets together, it should be at Medieval Times.@Aylee – Yes, lots of different views on this one. I can see why it's polarizing because there were parts of this book that I really liked, but then after I was done and reflected on it, I changed my mind. That makes it hard to judge my true feelings. I liked it while reading it, so it can't be all bad, right?

  11. Pingback: Logan E. Turner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s