I have to admit I requested Allegiance from NetGalley without realizing there was a book one to the series, so I'm sure my impressions will be different than others who are familiar with Legacy. The cover and book description pulled me in! Fans of the Girl of Fire and Thorns, Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern or Maria V Snyder's Study Series will enjoy this one. It's a mix of historical YA fiction and fantasy. The author published the first at age 17- holy moly folks! I was impressed after reading her interview and am sure the writing will continue to get even better as she matures.
Allegiance starts out with Alera and Steldor being newly married an crowned King/ Queen of Hytanica. It is painfully obvious that Alera is still in love with someone else and does not welcome the marriage in any way. To be honest since Narian, her true love barely shows up in this installment and I didn't know the back story I had a hard time empathizing. I was disappointed in Alera's hardness toward Stledor, even when human empathy would dictate something else. What little interactions they did have I found to be the most fascinating parts of the book. There is lively batner and tension which added to the personality of the plot. I sympathized with Steldor and think he was acting as any other 22 year old man placed in charge of a kingdom would act. He is passionate and though has temper, I could see he was truly trying his best to be patient with Alera's complete shunning. When he becomes badly injured Alera just stands by...WHA!?
There is very strong character development in Allegiance. I particularly liked Canaan and London. The women seemed to be purely victims which did not bode well with me. The only exception being Alera and the High Priestess, neither of which I connected with. There is an undertone of feminism, and I couldn't sympathize or agree with the way things turned out.
But bottom line....Did I enjoy the book? You bet! I can't wait to read book three, Sacrifice. I'm hoping Steldor gets some reward and that I see some of why Alera is so head over heels with Narian. There is some heavy war related violence and talk of sex between husband and wife, though not explicit. Overall the tone becomes a little dark and heavy in places so may be best for 14 and older. Thanks so much to Harlequin Teen for the sneak peek!