Acclaimed historian Eleanor Herman begins her historical fantasy series, Blood of Gods and Royals, with the exciting novel, Legacy of Kings. This book is a vivid reimagining of the political and personal experiences of Alexander the Great, his family and peers.
Destiny is sure to entwine the lives of the sixteen year old Prince Alexander (Alex) of Macedon, his sister Cynane (Cyn), Katerina (Kat), Jacob, Hephaestion (Heph), and Zofia (Zo), a princess of Persia and Alexander’s unmet bride-to-be. These youths are caught up in the maelstrom of political marriages, personal ambition and family allegiances – a familiar situation at the time. Given the gap between today’s world and that of the past, historical fiction allows us to consider events at a different light and to speculate the inner responses of its characters, who are representations of humans who once drew breath and walked our earth. Added to this, the fantastical element combines the supernatural with the earthly and plays with possibilities.
As the story unfolds, the youths embark on adventures of heart and steel. For those in Macedon, the main quest is to put an end to the harmful influence of the cunning Aesarian Lords who, headed by the High Lord Mordecai, have a dominating presence in ancient kingdoms like Athens, Sparta, Arcadia, Boetia, Crete and Argolis. The only kingdom not to accept their demands is Macedon. Kat is also determined to avenge her dead mother, Helen, who used to serve as the handmaid of Alexander’s mother, Olympias.
Herman’s novel flourishes with references to classical culture and historical minutiae, which affords an overall antiquated ambience. Herman’s attention to detail merits our fascination and curiosity. Her inclusion of epigraphs from the classical philosopher Aristotle attempts to reconcile her modernised narrative with the wisdom of a bygone era. These aphorisms can still be applied to human relationships and political dynamics today. Yet what I find the most striking is Herman’s ability to colloquialise this temporally foreign narrative. Potential rulers and tenacious women warriors converge at the same level here, united by age and ambition tinged with naivety. This means they speak like us, they address their loved ones with nicknames, they think the same thoughts and go through similar emotional experiences.
Herman’s story is vastly populated and written in first person, the result of which makes the storyline a bit tricky to follow at first due to the numerous points of view. But don’t let this discourage you. The story offers a fiery combination of romance, action, violence, and desire which will keep teenagers and adults hooked. Since historical fantasy is a gripping composite genre, there is really nothing you can do but read on.