Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: Allegiance - Cayla Kluver

Allegiance by Cayla Kluver
Series: Legacy Trilogy #2
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Published on February 28, 2012
Published by Harlequin Teen
Pages: 494
Read From: 2.28.13 - 3.3.13

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. . . .


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? No. As my sister put it, it looks like a Christian romance, and while I will admit that there are a few Christian romances that I like, I have never been a fan of their cover art. I’m all for pretty dresses, but that one is just ridiculous, and sorry, but the dude doesn’t look like he belongs in that era. Also, there is not one, but two character impersonators. I do like all of the curlies, though, naturally.

Characters: Alera, our lovely protagonist, is annoying at the best of times. For a woman who has been brought up as Hytanica’s future queen, she has absolutely no queenly bearing or discipline. She is incapable of keeping a stiff upper lip in public situations, and she goes about acting upon rash plans. She is constantly on an emotional rollercoaster, and thus is completely useless. The girl gets a self-confidence boost from cutting her hair short, and learning how to make watery gruel. Other than that, she’s pointless and doesn’t do anything to help anyone. Narian is hardly in this book, so my opinion of him hasn’t changed at all from the first book; I’m sure that will change with the third. Steldor, on the other hand, is in this one a lot, and I’m sorry, but the Author will never be able to convince me that deep down he’s actually a really nice guy. He’s a jerky, arrogant, chauvinistic clot pole, and the Author once more has to do a lot of backpedaling later in the story to make the Reader think that he really is a decent guy. For the most part, he’s a good king, but he has his own temper tantrums that get old just as quickly as Alera’s. London is really the only redeeming character in this whole trilogy. He doesn’t say much when he’s around, he gets to do all of the fun and interesting stuff, he masters his emotions, and he is immensely useful. In fact, London would be a much better protagonist - more would happen in the books if we got to follow him around. As for the villain . . . First off, his name is just laughable - the Overlord. If you want your villain to be taken seriously, don’t call him Overlord of Dark Lord or anything that’s ridiculously cliché like that. And then there was just the Overlord himself: he wasn’t frightening. The characters kept going on and on about how cruel he was, but I never saw it. Sure, he executed a bunch of military officers when he took over Hytanica, but for an evil tyrant, that’s mild. He didn’t kill any civilians - no mothers or little children. He tortured people with magic, but those scenes were frankly just comical.

The Romance: I’m not a fan of the love triangle in this trilogy. I like Narian well enough, but as much as I dislike Steldor, even he doesn’t deserve a useless brat like Alera, and Narian definitely doesn’t.

Plot: Cokyria is threatening to invade Hytanica, and Alera is pining after Narian while trying to avoid consummating her marriage with Steldor. And unfortunately, Alera’s troubles with Steldor and being the new queen take up more of the book than the looming invasion. Practically every domestic fight Steldor and Alera has is related in detail, as well as Alera’s pining for Narian and being a whiny, unqueenly annoyance. The first half of the book, nothing happens. The second half of the book, the war begins, and . . . nothing happens. Alera doesn’t do anything, and she’s not present on any adventures, so we Readers miss out on the interesting stuff and hang out in a cave with Miss Useless and take pride in our gruel-making skills. There’s also other flaws: the escapes. London and another character are captured by the Cokyrians at one point, and then they manage to escape. But how they exactly escaped is never explained. London says they had the help of Narian, but the how is still not explained, and I began to think that perhaps the Cokyrian security is about as secure as Camelot in Merlin: it isn’t at all. It left me thinking, That’s it? That’s all you had to do? Well, what’s the big issue, then?!

Believability: The world’s politics are a bit more believable in this installment, though there is still an astounding lack of proper respect for their monarchs. Cannan chews his son, the new king, out more times than I can count, which I just don’t believe would happen. Alera also has no ladies-in-waiting, and every queen in history has had those. The scene where London cauterizes Steldor’s wound with explosive powder had me in fits of laughter. Why couldn’t the Author just give Steldor a wound that could be cauterized with a knife blade? The explosive powder wasn’t clever. And if anyone knows of a species of oak whose bark not only works as a painkiller, but a sedative as well, please share.

Writing Style: There’s a small improvement to the last one, though the Author still suffers from reiterating things far too often. Still, her style as a whole has certainly matured with her age, which I suspected it probably would.

Content: There’s lots of talk of consummating marriages, but nothing detailed.

Conclusion: Anticlimactic. I was embarrassed for the good guys, when they came up with the “brilliant” plan of kidnapping the High Priestess from the Cokyrian capital. The good guys were under the impression that because the Cokyrian invading force was in Hytanica, their capital would be unguarded. Have they never heard of home defense force? The Praetorians in Rome were there not only to protect the emperor, but the capital. One does not empty out one’s capital defense in order to invade another country. But the final showdown between the good guys and the Overlord was what really got me, and forever solidified the Overlord as one of the silliest villains I’ve met. He monologued and boasted and sneered and threatened to a point that completely discredited him. And then he goes and gets himself defeated in a completely ridiculous manner. I was like, “Seriously? That’s how he’s going to die? I’m embarrassed for him!” It was avoidable. I cannot imagine what the third book will be about, honestly; it’s going to be boring. Allegiance had a few improvements from Legacy, but not enough to make this a good trilogy.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fifteen-and-up, good for fans of fantasy romances that don’t go anywhere.

Others in This Trilogy:

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