Legacy (Legacy Series Book 1) by Cayla Kluver
Duty-bound to wed her father’s choice in successor to the throne, Princess Alera of Hytanica believes that she is being forced into the worst of all possible fates—a marriage to the arrogant and hot-tempered suitor, Steldor. When a mysterious boy from enemy Cokyri appears bearing secrets and an entirely different view of what's appropriate behavior for a young lady, Alera learns that her private desires threaten to destroy the kingdom. When Narian’s shocking past comes to light, Alera finds herself in a shadowy world of palace intrigue and ancient blood feuds, facing an uncertain future with dwindling options—and must learn to decide between right and wrong all alone.
Alera is a princess that actually wants to rule her kingdom. Which is a nice change from the usual princess who hates her life story. Alera's only problem is that her father is dead set on her marriage by her eigtheenth birthday. It seems she'll be forced to marry Steldor until a boy from her country's sworn enemy shows up and they have embark on a whirlwind romance. Alera was a good character but for me, some of the other characters stole the show. I was drawn to the characters that kept surprising me with their personality and traits. Alera was Alera, I was never left in shock or bewilderment at something she said or did- which is not a bad thing. All I'm saying is that to me while Alera was the main character, she wasn't my favorite character.
Steldor made me chuckle quite a few times. When he outwitted Alera in the garden when she was trying to pry information from him, I was laughing out loud. He's very intelligent, clever, and quick witted- which improves his standing in my sight. Due to his ego I was expecting not to like him, maybe even despise him. That's totally not the case though. The conversation he had with Alera when they were dancing I thought showed that he cared about their relationship. He really wanted to know what he had done to make her loathe him, and his responses, although heated, were very logical. I also really enjoyed the scenes where Alera and Steldor were alone, often resulting in Alera being quite stunned by Steldor's behavior. It was really interesting to me that Alera enjoyed kissing Steldor, even though she disliked him so. I wonder how that's going to progress in the next book, maybe there's some feelings there? But my favorite scenes of the pair are when they're acting nice to one another, like the scene when Alera gives Steldor his birthday present. Or the scene when Steldor surprises Alera at the market and insists on keeping her company for the rest of the day. Too funny, yet precious! Now I will say I had moments of being ticked off at Steldor, like the fighting with Narian, but overall I enjoyed his character. I'm a bit reluctant to say this, but it does fit the character and plot...Steldor, to me, could be on the same character path as Darcy from Pride & Prejudice (one of my supreme favorite books, so I'm very protective of it). So let me explain. Steldor is very sure and proud of himself, thus treating the leading lady in a less than gentlemanly way, which is how Darcy was in the beginning. But Darcy turns out to be this amazing, fantastic man that strives and earns Elizabeth's love. So Steldor could be on the same path, which I hope is the case. Which means he will become less prideful and strive for (and win) the love of the girl he cares for.
Now about Narian. So for some reason my brain doesn't comphrend the fact the Narian is one year younger than Alera. My brain keeps insisting they are the same age, which doesn't really affect the story but I just had to mention it. Narian definitely does "mysterious, stone-faced boy" perfectly. Which may be the reason I'm hesitant to really like him as a love interest. If you've read the about me, you understand. As soon as he stepped into the picture (plus the fact that he's mentioned on the back cover) I knew he would most likely get the girl. But I can be wrong! Narian is very courageous in front of danger (not that he is really in danger), yet with Alera he is able to open up. She really brings out his person-side, rather than the calculating-I-can-kill-you-anytime-anywhere-with-anything side. So he's got that going for him. He is still very mysterious to me- I want to know if I can really trust him, what's going on in his head, why he left, how he feels, his background, and what he's going to do! Narian is so deadly and so lost - he reminds me of Stitch...only as a person. I didn't feel I got to know him very well in this book, so I hope we learn more in the rest of the series, so I can decide how I feel about him.
The other characters in the book each had very distinct personalities which create a rich diversity in the book. King Adik is Alera's dad, but he's also the king. He's very set on what he wants and I have to say I got aggravated just as much as Alera. Now London is a really intriguing character to me. At first I thought he was a traitor, but there's so much to London- a lot of which we don;t know. I'm really fond of the relationship between Alera and London it's like a mixture between ultra best friends and brother/sister. He looks out for her and knows her better than most people- maybe even better than herself. I'm curious to find out who exactly London is. Cannan didn't seem like a character I should pay attention to at first, but he is surprisingly insightful and wise. I hope he has a larger role in the next book!
Basically what I've been saying is that the characters in this book are great. The plot is is guaranteed to throw you off with surprise twists a couple times. I don't want to give anything away though, so you'll just have to indulge yourself and read it! And of course there's the famous love triangle...dun dun dun!
My musings on the Steldor-Alera-Narian triangle :
So you may have guessed that I'm team Steldor. (Are there even teams for this series? If not, there are now.) While he does have an ego problem and temper, among other things, I have to admit I think he really does love Alera. There's something redeemable about him, I think he just puts on this outward show. There were a number of times when I actually thought positively of Steldor, especially when Cannan spoke to Alera. I also enjoy their squabbling, it's quite comical and I think it's cute. I also think Steldor has the opportunity to really redeem himself in the next two books. As time moves forward I'll determine whether I think the relationship will last, because I really can see the Steldor-Alera relationship blossoming. Then again I could be wrong. But I like the idea of Alera really changing Steldor for the good because they are together. The growth and change that couples make for each other shows the love a couple shares. So I think Steldor changing for Alera could really show a better side of him. That could just be me wistfully dreaming though.
Alera and Narian have the star crossed lovers thing, which tends to be the favorite coupling arrangement. I have my reserves about this coupling though. Alera claims to be in love with Narian and to have fully given her heart to him, but I just question how "in love" she can truly be with soemone she hardly knows/hasn't known long. And I may be a little angry at Narian. He listened to Alera, treated her with respect, trained her, and was pretty great, despite his mysterious sketchiness. Then he up and leaves. Woah! No fight for the love of his life? No "goodbye I'm doing what's best"? Um, Narian your case is pretty bad right about now. And supposedly he's on Cokyri's side in Allegiance! *My guess is that the Overlord has control over him somehow and it's not entirely Narian's own doing. Also I have a feeling Narian's promise to never hurt Alera is going to come up...* Before fans attack me for the previous comments, I will say I enjoyed the growing relationship that Narian and Alera had. I may have done a happy dance sitting down when Narian kissed Alera for the first time, but something feels off to me about them as a couple.
Honestly, it's a toss up to me for how this love triangle will play out. I do have a strong suspicion that Narian will end up with Alera, but this makes me squirm slightly. First I REALLY don't want Alera to go run off or be unfaithful in her marriage. She made the choice to marry Steldor and I want her to be true to that commitment. Which means the only other way to end up with Narian is some kind of divorce (not going to happen) or Steldor's death or some mysterious third option I don't know of. The second option makes me sad, mostly because for some reason I just want to see something good in Steldor. (That's my optimism for you.) So that's my two cents and I guess I'll just be stuck counting the days until March 2012 for book 2.
Cayla Kluver has really done a lovely job- especially when you realize how young she was when she wrote this! Bravo to you Cayla, Bravo. Any way I'm off to sleuth through the Internet in hopes of finding out everything and anything I can about the rest of this series.