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ARC Review: Allegiance (#2)

my thoughts in a few sentences: ... I'm still attempting to sort out my very complex feelings toward this novel. While I did feel that the sequel served as a better, more solid novel than the first, there are so many conflicting emotions at war within me, as a result of the strangely paced plot, disappointment, surprising grief, and my equally troubling feelings toward the series' heroine. Yet I find myself still in anticipation of the final chapter to these set of books.

mysterious first line: "The hall was empty except for a cloaked figure who stood motionless upon a black marble dais."

Rating: Guilty PleasureNo spoilers! | HarlequinTeen • NetGalley • Fantasy • 2/28/12 • about $9


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…
Looking back on my take on Legacy, the first novel in the series, my annoyance and fondness for it comes through loud and clear. I had so many issues with the first one! A petulant heroine and her irritating taste in men, the lack of time spent with actually interesting characters, and sometimes overdone writing—the kind in which you feel fatigued after sifting through paragraphs of overwhelming descriptiveness—did not endear the series to me, yet, I will be the first to admit, there is something astonishingly addictive about these books! It boggles my mind how I can be scrolling through pages and pages of uninteresting material and still find something to draw my eye, reestablishing my immersion into the story. While the sequel has noticeably less of what bothered me in Legacy, and I did enjoy this one a bit more, my feelings pretty much remain the same, with a few new emotions barging in as well.

Once upon a time, my relationship with Alera was not so complex. I quite simply detested her. However, although the narration is told in her perspective, it was rather easy to... ignore her. In Allegiance things subtly shifted, enough that we notice Alera's gradual growth into a more mature young woman (and a bearable character for me), as this book sees action that surpasses anything we've witnessed in Legacy. It would be rather difficult to hold onto her innate impertinence when men and women she cares for begin dying in random order around her. Never knowing whether her loved ones' lives or her own will be in danger next must have a similar effect to receiving the lash of a punch across the face, and it awakens the brighter, more admirable qualities in her. Finally. Despite this, Steldorites will not be capable of restraining a deeply embedded annoyance with her character for making things so impossible for her and Steldor's relationship to grow. We understand that sometimes love can choose us, rather than us choose it, HOWEVER would it have killed the girl to give the guy a FREAKING break? This probably just stems from the fact that we have no other way of enjoying his more romantic side without her immediate surrender to his sincere and heartwarming attempts.

Romance aside, what tends to strike us sometimes much more deeply is the emotion injected into our hearts as a result of the unfolding of events. Allegiance is dripping with emotion from its overflowing reserve stored deep within the torment and deaths that occurred, and within the words that painted it all so vividly for us to witness and absorb. Beautiful, rich characters are brutally assassinated if not right before Alera's shared eyes, then in the distance, but word reaches us nonetheless and our hearts suffer an onslaught of simultaneously passionate and sorrowful tears. Once the shock wears away, all that is left is a wide stretch of grief.

Although the pacing is strange—picking up and dulling with whiplash force and velocity—the plot in Allegiance is definitely much more engrossing, more action-packed with espionage, prisoner haggling, and an uncomfortably up-close look into the capabilities of the villains, enemies and allies of Hytanica arising both unexpectedly and right on time to strengthen or destroy those villains. And while the ending wraps up in a manner a smidge predictable and too tidy, it leaves us wondering just how Kluver will close the door on this comfortably fantasy series.

"A week ago, you asked me to take things slowly, and I agreed and kept my distance," he chided, examining my face. "I even slept on the floor in my soldier's bedroll the last few nights of our stay in the guest room."
He paused, twirling a strand of my silky hair around his forefinger.
"I fail to understand how you will become physically comfortable with me when you will not even let me kiss you, let alone touch you." (25)

Oh, Steldor, if only...


Giselleco said...

Great review chicky! I haven't read book 1 of this yet but I hear great things about the series I'm definitely curious. I love books that evoke a lot of emotions I find they're the most memorable.

Jenny said...

Stunning review Asher! You gave me such a good feel for this book without spoiling anything from either this one or book one which I haven't read. Alera seems like she'll be a difficult character to try and connect with, but it seems like there's something about this series that keeps you interested despite your constantly shifting feelings for the heroine.

Missie Bee said...

Yeah, I'm gonna have to say, I don't think this is a series for me, but kudos to you for sticking with it. 

Asher_Knight said...

If you're not very patient, Legacy will deter you from reading the series. But Allegiance was a decent improvement. :)

Asher_Knight said...

Alera is a difficult character to connect with, at least for me, but there are other really cool elements and characters that make her narration bearable, even when she annoys me. She annoyed me less in this one though, which I consider a plus in the book's favor. :D

Erin W. said...

I literally can't wait to read this book since I adored the first book. Great review!

Mimi Valentine said...

LOL guilty pleasures! God knows I have a TON of those on my shelf (like the Fallen series!), so what's the harm in adding one more? x) 

Amazing honest review, Asher! I'm really happy to hear that this sequel is better than the first book! Usually it's the other way around, so this would be really refreshing. :) I haven't read the first book yet (although it's on my TBR list!), but at least now I can look forward to character growth in Allegiance if Alera bothers me in the first book too! <3

Asher_Knight said...

 Oh, then, if you really loved the first book you'll like Allegiance bunches. There are certain aspects of this series that rub me the wrong way and I still liked it. So, imagine a fan!

Asher_Knight said...

It seems like we all have something we're secretly enjoying that's not all that great.

Yeah, sometimes the sophmore slump gets to the second book and gets us all cranky with the series, but I saw most of what's within an improvement :)

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