6/20/11 ** Sixteen year old Alera is the Crown Princess of Hytanica - a land that had been in a 100-year-war with the Cokyris until the year of her birth. Hytanica is extremely patriarchal and Alera will never rule in her own right; that responsibility will rest on the man she marries. As the plot develops in this tale, Alera must decide whom to marry and if she doesn't make a choice that meets her father's expectations by her 18th birthday, he'll choose for her.
Alera is conflicted. She detests the man her father would choose, but sees no alternatives. Enter the mysterious Narian - recently escaped from Cokyri and the long-lost son of an Hytanican noble family. He seems to have the requisite skills to become a king: maturity, military training, masculinity, but can he be trusted? Does he have inner conflicts or remaining loyalty to the Cokyrian nobles who raised him?
This story is compelling, with interesting characters. I wanted to know how Alera would develop; I wanted to know the story behind the intriguing bodyguard, London; I wanted to know how Narian would reconcile his allegiance to two lands. On the other hand, I had some issues with the book as well. At times I wanted to shake Alera for succumbing to the gender stereotypes of her culture; at others I was willing to excuse her,since she'd never experienced any other mindset. I also had some difficulty with the world-building. The non-noble city dwellers seemed to have a life that was too serene and comfortable. A medieval-era land that had recently come out of a lengthy war would have more scars than were evident. Finally, I found it jarring that this fantasy land would use the same months (October), languages (Latin), and holidays (Christmas) that we have in our world.
When I was nearly done with the book though, I stumbled on the author's bio. At the time this book was initially published in 2008, Cayla Kluver was planning her early graduation from high school at the age of 15. This is an accomplished work of 444 pages for any author, let alone a teen. While this edition was self-published by Kluver's mother, Kluver has recently contracted with HarlequinTEEN to re-release Legacy
and then publish two sequels. While I rated this book as 3 stars, I encourage you to give it a chance. Kluver is an author worth watching.