Author: Eleanor Herman
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 384 pages
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.
Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.
Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.
Characters: Wow, this book focuses on a lot of characters, but none more so than Kat and Alex, who ended up having the most chapters in the entire book. These two are very interesting characters, they both have very specific goals at the beginning of the book, that over time grow and change as their circumstances do. I really enjoyed reading from their chapters as they were easily my favorite characters. Another of my favorite characters is the sort of anti-hero of the book Cyn, she's a bit of a mystery though her plans are pretty openly laid out. The mystery though comes from wondering just where her morality will align later in the series. Another mysterious character is Zo, the Persian princess who unfortunately only had four chapters to her name, since she wasn't around any of the other main characters this made her storyline the shortest which really irritated me because it was just starting to get interesting in the fourth chapter. Finally we have a character that I just didn't care for, Olympias, who if you've read the FREE prequel novella, Voice of Gods, isn't a very good person, and in this book she's easily twice as worse.
Romance: There are two more characters that I failed to mention about because they sort of fit better in the romance section and those are Heph and Jacob. These two boys are both vying for Kat's affections, which normally I wouldn't have feeling for one way or the other, but unfortunately I wasn't all that impressed with the romance in this book. First we have Jacob, Kat's childhood friend who's loved her nearly his whole life, and she feels the same, but there are things she has to do first, things that are too dangerous to tell him. Now, I wanted to like Jacob, I really did, but the thing is, his only motivation in this entire book was to be with Kat, I mean you could argue that in the beginning he also wanted to help provide for his family, but by the second Act, the only thing driving him was his feelings for Kat, which I just couldn't get on board with. Heph is a more complex character, he had more motivations than just his feelings for Kat, but the weird thing was that his feelings just came out of nowhere, I mean there were tiny glimpses in a previous chapter and then *BAM* out of nowhere he has these strong feelings which just felt very unrealistic. If I had to choose one guy to end up with Kat though it'd be Heph, only because he's a more complex character.
World-Building; So wow, if I thought the world-building in Voice of Gods was amazing, it's easily ten times better in this book. Though I will say that I highly recommend reading the prequel novella before getting to this book. It's not mandatory, but it provides a lot of great insight into the book and it can help you understand just what's going on in the world and with these characters. Also, I don't know if it was just that it wasn't corrected in the ARC I read, but there are a few continuity errors between the prequel and book that reading the prequel as fact can clear up as well. Anyway, this story and the world it takes place in is fantastic, there's so much beautiful imagery and the descriptions of the final climax at the end are beyond perfect. As for the plot and pacing, it does go a bit slow at first though picks up pace around the third Act. I'm so fascinated by all the mysterious events that transpired in this book and am anxious and excited to read the sequel.
Predictability: So this book has quite a few rather large twists in it. The biggest of which I did not see coming, I mean when it was finally verified I pretty much knew, but that's only because it was practically spelled out for me with very large chunks of foreshadowing, but I didn't mind it because it was so crazy and intense that I could barely get over it by the time it was verified, also part of me was kind of hoping it wasn't true, though I'm not upset that it was. There were some other large twists that made this book such a pleasure and excitement to read. As usual there were small things that I could easily predict would happen, but they were fairly few and far between.
Ending; The only thing I was upset about by the ending was that there wasn't going to be another Zo or Cyn chapter, it's not that I needed that or anything, but just that their previous and last chapters ended nowhere near where I expected they would and they felt like more of a cliffhanger than the actual ending of the book. So the final climactic scenes, as there are many from a plethora of views, were magnificent. There was action, ingenuity, a touch of mystery, and of course it's all topped off with that cliched first book in a series ending with a declaration foreboding about the danger still ahead. I wouldn't necessarily say that this book ends with a cliffhanger, but it definitely doesn't have that plateaued feel that most first books do, as I'm craving Empire of Dust, seriously, it cannot get here fast enough.
So I loved this book, I really did, but there were three things that bugged me about this book, first is Jacob, he needs some other motivation besides wanting to end up with Kat, he can of course want that too, but he needs a bit more substance, then there's Heph's affections for Kat, I felt as though I was told about them and I'd like to see a more natural affection between them in the future, and finally Zofia, she needs either more chapters, or one of the other main characters needs to team up with her so we can get more of her story because four chapters was just not enough.