Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: Allegiance (Kluver)

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AUTHOR: Cayla Kluver
SERIES: Legacy, book 2
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PUBLICATION DATE: May 14, 2011
ISBN: 9780373210435
PAGES: 490
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: fantasy romance
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS
SUMMARY: Forced to marry a man she does not love, Alera holds her head high as she performs her daily duties as the newly-crowned Queen of Hytanica. With war looming, Alera's favorite bodyguard London is still missing, along with her beloved Narian, who is rumored to be leading the charge to overthrow Hytanica. As the ruthless Cokyrian Overlord crosses into Hytanican land, no one is safe from the Overlord's powers to bring pain and death to anyone who stands in his way.

REVIEW: When I finished Legacy, I was not certain I wanted to read its sequel. If it weren't for my love for the character of Steldor and the surprising twist at the end of Legacy, I probably wouldn't have bothered with Allegiance at all. And that would have been a shame. Like Legacy, Allegiance is overlong and needs serious content editing; however, Allegiance has far better pacing than its predecessor. The story moves along at a (mostly) decent clip, and I frequently had a difficult time putting it down. Allegiance has lots of action, and I loved the way the characters of Alera, Steldor, Miranna, and Temerson change over time. Surprisingly, Alera and Steldor's constant quibbling and "marriage of convenience" reminded me a little of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Rhett loved Scarlett all along (as Steldor loves Alera), and Scarlett realizes only too late that, despite everything, she loves Rhett back (as Alera will discover in book 3?). Hmmm...

Kluver's copious attention to detail, while at times a bit much, really gives readers a sense of setting, time, and character. I still love Steldor and rooted for him for the entire book, and I have difficulty understanding how Alera can so easily forgive Narian for his part in the Overlord's atrocities. Even though the Overlord forces Narian's hand and Narian really is trying to minimize the damage, it should have been more difficult for an 18-year old girl to get over his role in so much death and destruction. While Steldor's character is very well-defined in both books, Narian barely appears in Allegiance until the very end, making his character more difficult to understand or care about.

I really enjoyed how spoiled, pampered sisters Alera and Miranna finally get the chance to grow up and experience the world. They are both far less annoying and whiny in this book, and Alera's transition to becoming a strong queen is a refreshing change. The NetGalley version of Allegiance includes the Prologue to the third book in the Legacy trilogy, but I am not certain a third book is necessary. It seems most everything is resolved at the end of Allegiance, and I am once again wondering if I will read the next book.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Though still a bit overlong, Allegiance is a (mostly) fast-paced story of forbidden love, undying friendships, and a kingdom at war. While it is not a must-read, Kluver's beautiful attention to detail and richly-drawn characters make it a worthy investment for libraries and readers who love being swept up in castles, royalty, and romance.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: The book is not yet published, but I do plan to purchase both Legacy and Allegiance for my library. I do have some mild concern about the references to marriage consummation, but the references are infrequent and no sex ever takes place, either on or off the page. Middle school librarians with concerns about sexual innuendo are urged to read the books first.

READALIKES: Graceling (Cashore); The Seer and the Sword (Hanley)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 4/5
  • Creativity: 3/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 2/5
CONTENT:
  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild; a few kisses, a few mild references to intercourse and the consummation of marriage
  • Violence: medium; multiple murders, war violence, torture
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; some social wine-drinking, wine is used medicinally (pain-killer, clean wounds)

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