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I Belong


Review: Empire of Dust by Eleanor Herman

Empire of DustTitle: Empire of Dust

Author: Eleanor Herman

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Series: Blood of Gods and Royals (Book #2)

Publication Date: June 28, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

ISBN-10: 0373211929 (Harlequin Teen)

ISBN-13: 9780373211920 (Harlequin Teen)

Reviewed by: Tara

Synopsis:

In Macedon, war rises like smoke, forbidden romance blooms and ancient magic tempered with rage threatens to turn an empire to dust.

After winning his first battle, Prince Alexander fights to become the ruler his kingdom demands—but the line between leader and tyrant blurs with each new threat.

Meanwhile, Hephaestion, cast aside by Alexander for killing the wrong man, must conceal the devastating secret of a divine prophecy from Katerina even as the two of them are thrust together on a dangerous mission to Egypt.

The warrior, Jacob, determined to forget his first love, vows to eradicate the ancient Blood Magics and believes that royal prisoner Cynane holds the key to Macedon’s undoing.

And in chains, the Persian princess Zofia still longs to find the Spirit Eaters, but first must grapple with the secrets of her handsome—and deadly—captor.

Quick & Dirty: A quick and easy historical fiction sequel full of action, adventure, and magic.

Opening Sentence: Leaves rustling. Branches creaking. The tinkle of tiny bells and cymbals creeps toward her on the wind.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

After reading Legacy of Kings, I was excited to see where the author would take the story in Empire of Dust. She did not disappoint in this sequel. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of the rare sequels that is better than the first book. After beginning with a killer scene, the action continues non-stop throughout the book. However, Herman manages to also focus on the emotional development of her characters, a careful balancing act that she accomplishes well.

This book was a wild, crazy ride and I enjoyed every second. While the characters were mostly clustered in one location in Legacy of Kings, this book sees many of them off on adventures to new places. My favorite storyline was still that of Kat and Heph, I adored watching their interactions, particularly as their feelings toward each other grow and change throughout the novel. Heph still sometimes does or says some unfortunate things but he does experience a lot of character growth in this book. One of my favorite things was how he described his changing feelings for Kat, mentioning that it was her spirit, intelligence, and beauty that he was attracted to. The author creates a multi-dimensional, fluid relationship between the two of them that is quite believable. Kat remains my favorite character and some of her lines made me laugh out loud.

Both Jacob and Alexander had interesting plot lines but neither of them was a particularly likeable character in this installment. They both grow as characters but leave an ever-increasing body count behind them. Toward the end of the book, Alex begins to see the error of his ways and makes a choice about the type of leader he wants to be. As for Zo, I’m honestly not entirely sure why her story is included yet. Her storyline consists mostly of riding around, looking for the Pegasus, and finding her captor attractive. Had she been more of a multi-dimensional character, I might have enjoyed her storyline more. I also would have liked a little bit more depth to Cyn, although I have hopes for her in future books. As with the first book, Olympia was such a deliciously immoral character; her scenes are usually semi-shocking but always interesting.

While the plot was fast-paced and entertaining, the world building could have been a bit better. Much of the history was conveyed through info dumps, rather than spread out and woven into the plot. I did like the magic system, but would have liked more information about it. There were some unexpected plot twists through the book that kept my interest. The switching between characters was smoother than the last book but would still often occur in the middle of a scene.

Empire of Dust was a quick and easy read full of action, adventure, and magic. I’m already looking forward to reading book three and finding out what happens next.

Notable Scene:

Jacob hears a boot kicking gravel. “I regret, High Lord, that I cannot say at the moment. But I swear I will find the last god, in whatever form he takes, and bring him to the Lords.”

“If you do, you will be the best of the Aesarians,” comes the resonant voice. “Rest assured, your name will be inscribed at Nekrana. Never before have we…” Gideon’s voice fades as the two men leave the courtyard. Jacob peers around the column at their retreating forms and sees no way of following them without being seen. Questions churn in his mind like a river in spring flood. What does it mean, the last god? The gods are asleep—they have not come in contact with men for hundreds of years now. Is Bastian trying to waken them? Why was he on a secret mission? But another thought grows larger and larger until it pushes all others from his mind: the best of the Aesarians. High Lord Gideon said find Riel and become the best.

Blood of Gods and Royals Series:

0.5 Voice of Gods

0.6 Queen of Ashes

1. Legacy of Kings

2. Empire of Dust

3. Reign of Serpents (June 27, 2017)

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FTC Advisory: Harlequin Teen provided me with a copy of Empire of Dust. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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