(Re-release date: August 18, 2009)From the Cover: As a dark rivalry between two kingdoms threaten to erupt into war, a willful princess must decide between duty and desire.
Obligated to wed her father's choice in successor to the throne, seventeen-year old Princess Alera of Hytanica believes that she is being forced into worst of all possible fates--a marriage to the arrogant and hot-temptered Steldor. When the attractive and mysterious Narian arrives from enemy lands bearing secrets and different ideas about women's roles in the world, Alera's private desires threaten to destroy the kingdom. The discovery of Narian's shocking past plunges Alera into a shadowy world of palace intrigue and ancient blood feuds, leaving her unsure of what to believe in, or whom to trust.
Alera is a princess in dire need of a white knight to save her. Alera is Princess to the Kingdom of Hytanica and must be wed by her eighteenth birthday. As our story opens, Alera has just had her seventeenth birthday. And her father, King Adrik, is demanding that she marry the suitor of his choice. There are very stringent rules for the suitor to meet, and presently, one only suitor fulfills his desires, the insufferable Steldor. Alera is a romantic soul and needs not only to be cherished, but understood; she is a modern woman living in a Medieval society. She doesn't see Steldor for the man he could be, only has the man he is now, and he doesn't give any idea that he is capable of change. Lord Cannan, his father and Captain of the King's Guards, seems to believe that he will, but he is his mother's son as well.
Steldor thinks very highly of himself and sees himself as a lady's man, with many conquests under his cap. He is arrogant and unthinking, choosing to please himself and not understanding why Alera has a problem with his attitude. He is used to the ladies falling at his feet, yet Alera seems immune to his many attempts to win her heart. What Steldor cannot understand is that Alera needs to be valued for who she is and not what she will be. Although he is three years her senior, he possesses an immaturity in regards to women. It doesn't help that Hytanican society does not value women as equals to men. It could be it's ultimate down fall.
Hytanica was been involved in a century old war with the neighboring Kingdom of Cokyri. Legend has it that Cokyri was visited by an ambassador from Hytanica to talk about a trade agreement. The ambassador refused to speak with the ruling High Priestess, rudely demanding to speak with the ruling King. This was his death sentence as she was the highest ruler in the land. With his death, came a war between the two nations. Cokyrians believe that women are to be valued and are strong leaders to be followed; while in Hytanica, women are demanded to be subservient to men, bending to their master's will. The war has lapsed for the past sixteen years, but now it's raising it's ugly head and threatening Hytanica once more.
Cokyri has been beastly in the war. Poisoning, slaughtering men, women, and children are just a few of it's crimes. Perhaps the most unspeakable is the kidnapping and murder of the infants sons of the nobles some sixteen years previous to the time of our story. One infant son was not returned murdered, but now he has come home, a man trained in the ways of the Cokyrians. Narian can be either Hytanica's savior or it's destroyer, which will he choose?
Legacy by Cayla Kluver is a story of intrigue, love, and Medieval society. It's a great historical fantasy where two kingdoms are the exact opposite of each other; both unwilling to forgive the offenses of the other. The offenses of each are horrible, but then isn't that the object of war? Our young heroine, Alera, is being forced into a marriage by her father that neither pleases her heart or her sensibilities. Young Steldor is hot-temptered, drinks too much, and is arrogant, but King Adrik has had his fill of ruling Hytanica and wants nothing more than to pass the ruling power of his kingdom on the younger man. I believe it is the hope of King Adrik that Alera and the responsibilities of ruling the kingdom will bring maturity to his years. I can see the man that Steldor could be if he chooses to become that individual, but as presented in the story, he does not see that this maturity is needed. Narian, the other young man involved in the story, is mature beyond his sixteen years. He has been raised and trained as a Cokyrian, and only found out the truth of his birth by accident. When he realizes his true identity, he doesn't want to become the instrument that the High Priestess and her brother, the Overlord (a wielder of black magic arts), wants him to be. He escapes to his homeland of Hytanica, but he is not trusted there. Cokyri demands his return, but he refuses. There is a legend surrounding the young man that brings fear to the Hytanicans.
Legacy is a beautiful told tale that speaks to the reader. It speaks of the blossoming young love between Alera and Narian that stirs the reader's heart. It is a romantic historical in the purist sense; with kings and queens, tournaments and young men trying to proved themselves. Alera wants and needs to be valued, a woman before her time in the Medieval society. I loved the story and the pictures that young Ms. Kluver was able to paint. The book has a wonderfully design cover and is beautifully printed with calligraphic letters and designs at the begin of every chapter, a nice touch not often seen in today's novels. It is one of the best YA novels I have read, and I'm happily wanting for Allegiance, the second book in the series, soon to be released. If you are a lover of fantasy, this is the book for you. If you are a lover to sweet young romance, this is the book for you. If you are a lover of historical fiction, this is the book for you. There is black magic art yet to come, so lovers of the mystical might like to take a look as well. I recommend this book and series, wonderfully entertaining and it has won a place in my heart. For more information, Cayla Kluver can be friended on Facebook, visited on her website, or followed on her blog.
Here is a peek at an interview with Cayla Kluver. It's a bit lengthy, but interesting.