Published: Febraury 28th, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
e-copy: Courtesy of publisher and Netgalley
'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 enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, Legacy and I was really looking forward to Allegiance, unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations. What surprised me though was not the story, but the main character, Alera.
This time around our 'heroine' Alera was driving me crazy. I could not reconcile the girl who was confident enough to learn to ride a horse when it is against the rules - ladies don't do that kind of thing - with the girl who falls apart and takes to her bed for 10 days because she can't cope with the stress of ...(spoiler avoidance here). Somehow these two sides of Alera's character just did not fit for me. I realise she lives in a country that likes to subjugate it's women, but having a tea party when the country is preparing for war! She is the queen for goodness sake. Couldn't they at least have rolled some bandages.
'I pressed myself against the banister to make way for the scurrying, bustling civilians, feeling rather lightheaded - I would have sunk to the floor, but space constraints wouldn't allow it.' (from e-arc p307)
The above quote I believe is meant to convey that she is overwhelmed, but for me it just showed that she was ineffectual. Shouldn't she have been trying to help those civilians? She does start to show some backbone towards the end of the story, but.... Sometimes it felt a bit like rubbernecking at an accident, I just couldn't help but continue reading.
Conversely, this time around I really liked Steldor. He had come into his own and was showing remarkable forbearance and maturity - apart from one incident where he behaves like a toddler having a tantrum. I forgave him for that though, since I think I would have killed Alera instead of walking away (more spoiler avoidance). Sorry, I didn't mean for this to turn into a rant!
Narian was kind of in the background (he's the third side of the inevitable triangle) and London continued to be mysterious, although his situation was nicely explained towards the end, but of all the characters I think my favourite is Galen - he's steadfast, loyal, handsome, gentle and an all around good guy.
If it doesn't sound too ridiculous after all the above, I did quite enjoy the book. I'm a huge historical fantasy fan and I did enjoy the world building, I could just have done without Alera! I have to admit though that I really do want to read # 3, Sacrifice, which is due out at the end of this year, just to find out what happens to the rest of the characters. I'll be really interested to hear what the rest of you think about this one.