Release Date ~ February 28, 2012
ARC received from publisher
Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn't help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.
An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return...
Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.
Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn....
I adored Cayla Kluver's debut novel, Legacy, which left me begging for more in the trilogy- so when I picked up Allegiance, I had extremely high expectations. And in many ways, I was just as impressed as I had been the first time around, yet I found myself easily frustrated in two areas which largely detracted from my enjoyment of this hugely anticipated sequel.
However, there are many strong things to this book from Cayla's impressive writing, to the excitement of action and political intrigue which is included in most of the book.
- A fantasy novel with a historical feel:
Alera's world isn't a historical world, nor her story a historical account but there's something about it that feels so very real. Yet she easily blends in some magic and myths as well- but it's done so subtlely that it never feels unbelievable or entirely made up. It's familiar with all the mystical legends and strange occurences, yet never overpowers the rest of the story.
- Brilliant secondary characters:
I think one of the way sin which Cayla's talent truly shines through is in her depiction of the secondary characters; there are a large number of them, but she brings them to life with their own unique stories and I find that they often overshadow even Alera herself. They don't come across as two-dimensional at all, and that's something I find rather rare in most books.
- A story ripe with political intrigue and danger:
I was shocked at how much actually happens and changes in this book- it's a bit slow at first, but very quickly takes off and doesn't slow down until the very last pages. And it's so humbling and tragic, you can't help but feel moved by the devastating effects of the events which take place in Allegiance.
Alera, a character I greatly admired in Legacy, seems to have regressed in Allegiance more than anything else. She's EXTREMELY petty and immature - often acting like a child, and throwing her own 18 year old versions of temper tantrums. And further, we're clearly supposed to dislike Steldor- but I don't. The story failed to make me appreciate Alera and Narian more and Steldor less, and in fact I felt just the opposite. It simply felt too much like Steldor was being villainized for things he never does and Narian easily trusted for little reason besides Alera's love for him. That, to me, is frustrating to no end. And Alera's failure to accept the consequences of her actions or even own up to them is disheartening. She often relies on others to cover for her, and blames them if they don't act according to her will.
The romance just isn't there for me. It feels too stilted and forced, and I now find myself rooting for the "wrong guy" (Clearly, he's supposed to be the wrong one for her, but I fail to see how the other option is any better). I don't buy into this forbidden love story at all. Not one bit. I'm just not sold on it, and that's disappointing.
And there's just too much of a giant internal loophole. The whole plan and reasoning behind why the struggles Hytanica endures just doesn't make sense. SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this paragraph is an absolute spoiler of the book, so skip this paragraph if you haven't read it yet. The whole reason we're given for why Hytanica will fall is because Narian is on the Cokyrian side- yet he says the only reason he's helping them is to save Alera's sister. So of course, a whole nation falls and people are brutally slaughtered because Alera won't sacrifice her sister- or is it really because she'd rather hold on to Narian? And he doesn't want to disappoint Alera of course, seeing as hti sis her sister. Which to me speaks volumes about Alera's loyalty to her country as Queen. YES it sucks that her sister would die. But it's this self-absorption of Alera's that bothers me to no end. And the fact that she doesn't blame Narian for ANYTHING whatsoever, yet fears Steldor for very little reason. I mean, she's scared that Steldor will hit her- yet she's the one slapping and biting him when she's upset? Ugh.
It's these two main issues that forced me to reduce my rating for this one- I'm curious to see how Sacrifice will turn out, but also not very hopeful that it can be turned around for an ending that I'll find satisfactory. And while it's not nearly as enjoyable as the first book, it's still an exciting and interesting read.