I had mixed feelings about Legacy the first book in this trilogy, particularly disliking the ending, but when I had the opportunity to read this sequel, I found myself keen to find out what happened, and I’m pleased to say that Allegiance is a much better book than its predecessor. It is a moving story about a girls allegiance to her heart and her people.
I found the first book slow and disliked the selfish immaturity, stupidity and weakness of the main character, Princess Alera, who at seventeen succumbed to her father’s pressure to marry the egotistical Lord Steldor despite her dislike for the man. Unfortunately, all the women in the story were weak, frivolous and insignificant but I loved the strong characters of the supporting cast of members of the elite guard.
Allegiance started out the same way with Alera (now Queen) being so belligerent towards her new husband, Steldor (who clearly loved her) that he drew my sympathies and left me feeling irritated with her. Not only that, but she also pined for Narian, a boy that she supposedly loved, but since she hardly knew him was more likely a case of hot hormones, and who was now invading her country and slaughtering her people at the command of his master, the cruel Cokyrian Overlord. I wanted to tell her to get over it already. Since it was clearly a marriage of convenience, I also wondered why her mother didn’t step in to advise her daughter on her relationship with her husband. Surely, in such a society some support would have come from the mother.
Alera says “Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. 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.”
Unfortunately, he didn’t have the courage or wasn’t of independent mind enough to get rid of the Overlord so as to avoid doing his bidding.
When Alera went off alone with no thought for the results for the Kingdom should she fall into the hands of the enemy, I despaired that once again I might read a whole book without her growing up in the slightest. Luckily, I was wrong. The first time I felt that she had some redeeming features was when she turned her father’s scolding back on him and told him that it was his fault that she didn’t act like a Queen because he had forced her into a marriage she neither wanted nor was prepared for. It wasn’t until the situation had become dire, however, that she began to grow a spine. This was the point where the book became so engrossing that I couldn’t put it down.
When everything she has known is stripped away and circumstances leave her as the only effective representative of her people, encouraged by the Captain of the guard, Alera finds she has the strength and the intelligence to make an important contribution and finally to take control.
My favourite characters are London, the scout, Cannan, the Captain, Alera’s husband King Steldor and the other members of the Elite Guard. They are the ones that give this book its guts and strength. As in many traditional style fantasies, war, torture and cruelty abound, which always takes away from my enjoyment of a story. However, the plot became delightfully unpredictable as the story progressed and the ending left the characters in a satisfying place of equanimity and my respect for Alera’s husband grown even greater than it already had during the course of the book.
If you like traditional fantasy and don’t mind a book where the men are the strong characters and the women are generally weak and stupid then you’ll probably enjoy this one and its predecessor. Even as it is, I’ll be looking out for the third in the series. I give it 3 stars.