review: legacy by cayla kluver

Author: Cayla Kluver
Publication Date: 06/28/2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 488
Source: e-ARC

 The first boy disappeared on the day of his birth, on a night when the pale yellow moon of the nighttime sky turned red and bathed the heavens in the ghastly color of blood, on the same night the Kingdom of Cokyri abruptly ceased its merciless attack.

Across the land of Hytanica, under the shadow of the crimson moon, infant boys continued to vanish. Not until the blood had faded from the sky did the disappearances stop and the bodies of the murdered infants were found outside the gates of the city, a final word from the greatest enemy Hytanica had ever known. For the next sixteen years, peace reigned, but one mystery remained unsolved. The Cokyrians had abducted forty-nine newborns, but returned only forty-eight bodies. 

Now, as seventeen-year-old Princess Alera of Hytanica is besieged from all sides by suitors vying for the Throne, a teenage Cokyrian boy, Narian, is encountered within the walls of her Kingdom, a boy who will show Alera a world where women serve a purpose and not just a husband. As Narian helps Alera find her voice, she struggles against an arranged marriage that will shatter the life she has scarcely begun to live. And when Narian's shocking past is uncovered, and war with Cokyri looms once more, he must fight to defy a fate ordained at his birth. (goodreads)

I didn't know what to expect of this book coming in. I love a good fantasy, and despite the almost romance novel cover I was intrigued by the possibilities. Legacy tells the story of the Hytanican princess, Alera, who is on the cusp of her 18th birthday. This wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that in her society a princess who turns 18 must choose her suitor, who will succeed her father and rule as king. Alera's father already has someone in mind - Steldor, son of the Captain of the Guard - and somewhat fiesty Alera takes offense to this and acts out in small ways to keep him at bay. And this might sound like a somewhat pleasant story until we introduce Alera's personal bodyguard of sixteen years, London. London and Alera are rather close, and one day while in the gardens they are met by an unknown woman that ends up being a Cokyrian. When she escapes, panic ensues, suspicion sets in and unchains a series of events that unfold the rest of the story.

One of my favorite things about this book was the richness of the secondary characters. Alera's sister, Miranna, is fun and playful, yet is a grounding force for her sister when she steps out of line or needs to be told the truth from different eyes. The best characters for me were within the king's Elite Guard and comprised of London, Halias (Miranna's personal guard), and Destari: these guys were not only unwaveringly loyal but also knew when to step back and not take things too seriously and had their own distinct personalities and quirks. I wouldn't want to have any of them angry at me - but I would go to dinner with London.

That said, there was more about it that didn't work for me than that did. The biggest thing is the role that women play, or rather, don't play. One of the big differences between Hytanican and Cokyrian societies is that the former is patriarchal and the latter matriarchal. While I don't advocate either gender disparity, as the books are primarily told from the viewpoint of Hytanica what we see is a lot of women relegated to incredibly stereotypical tasks: an education in etiquette, dancing, speech, and event planning. Females do not learn history, politics, or advanced languages. I tried to set this aside again and again but there were passages that brought it up so forcefully that made it difficult, such as this one:
"He also feels, like most men, that a father should not trust to a daughter's judgement on a decision as important as the selection of her husband." (quote is from an uncorrected copy and may change in the finished version.)
Steldor, the man who the king wants Alera to marry, is not a very likable individual. He boasts, struts, and all other manner of verbs that act but do not inspire. Alera is very much opposed to marrying him but ends up not having much of a choice in the matter which was distressing to read as things progressed. I admit he does get better, but in almost a way that's too forced to believe. The other thing that was distracting were the words themselves. The writing was bogged down in descriptive detail that in between whatever the characters may have been saying we got a run-down of what they were wearing, the room they were in, and where that building was in respect to the rest of their realm. I appreciate world-building, and I love to know detail when it's something that enhances what someone is saying or if it hints at things to come but not repeatedly as it ends up being distracting.

While looking into the book, I found that Cayla was 14 when the book was first written. I'm curious to see how her writing has progressed since then and how her editors will treat the second book in the series in comparison to the first as the story is there, it's just the rest that needs polishing. For that reason I'm going to continue the series when the next book, Allegiance, is released. 

This ARC was received from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

5 comments on "review: legacy by cayla kluver"

Emma wrote: Fri Jun 24, 01:00:00 AM

I just put this on my Nook from netGalley today! How amazing is it that she was only 14?! Crazyyy. After reading your review though, I'm a little scared! I'm betting that I'll probably see eye-to-eye with you - we'll have to chat when I'm finished!

Jennifer A wrote: Fri Jun 24, 01:30:00 AM

Hhhmmm. I'm not sure if I want to read this one or not. I love the cover, and it sounds pretty good.

Wow, the author is that young? Crazy! I'm impressed.

Great review! :)

Truly Bookish wrote: Fri Jun 24, 08:20:00 AM

Thanks for the review! I have this from NetGalley as well and am willing to give it a try.
Truly Bookish

kaye (paper reader) wrote: Fri Jun 24, 06:14:00 PM

@Emma: I sure do have to give her props for writing such a story at that age - although I wrote long, (albeit terrible) stories when I was younger, too...but I've since shelved most of them. I think it is worth a read, it's just slow going and difficult at points. I'd love to chat when you're all done; whoo, book discussion!

@Jennifer: The story's definitely there, it just, I presume, hasn't been edited much since it was first written and just needs a lot of editing and work. Hopefully the next book will be finished properly. :)

@TB: Looking forward to see what you think of it! The characters are fun and it *is* an interesting plot.

Natalie wrote: Sat Jun 25, 09:40:00 AM

This book does sound like something I would enjoy reading! I hate when authors bog down their stories with too much uneeded description though. I think I might eventually pick this one up from the library on a day where I can't seem to find anything else to read.

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