Background, using the blurb (curtsey of Harlequin TEEN website)
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.
New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy to reimagine the world’s most brilliant ruler, Alexander the Great, in the second book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.
Eleanor Herman – Empire of Dust (Book two of Blood of Gods and Royals Series)
Before I start, I will say I do have a review for the first book in this series but it is currently with my 11 year old son at school. So I will write that up later. I will once again review the book without giving away any of the plot.
Empire of the Dust, is a young adult novel, written by Eleanor Herman and published by Harlequin TEEN.
Empire of Dust, has been both an adventure in reading and trying to read. After finishing the first book in the series, Legacy of Kings, I rang my local bookstore to make sure Empire of Dust was in before the 40 minute round trip to go pick it up. Much to my disappointment they had sold out. So I had to order it and wait. I’m not a patient person. Not even a little bit. Having to wait the week almost did me in. So when I got the call an hour after returning from town, I was rather excited and disappointed all at once. So using the excuse that we haven’t had pizza for a while, my 13 year old and I did an about face, drove back into town to pick it up. Which lead to more issues because I couldn’t sit down to read it until the next day.
So I finally, after all that, got to enjoy the book. Looking over the cover it was every bit as beautiful as I expected. Harlequin TEEN had done an amazing job with the simplicity and intrigue of the design. My only niggle is that this book is physically larger than the first. Not in length but size. But that is something that is my own pet peeve with books that don’t sit together nice and evenly on the shelf, not the author or publishers issue.
Opening it, I was grateful to see another map inside. While I have a basic understanding of where these countries and empires are/were, my kids aren’t quite so geographically minded.
So I’m reading the book, getting drawn in with how Eleanor Herman has changed character perspectives with each chapter, added twists and turns, made me think one thing and done another. And I forgot I put dinner on…you will be surprised at home much a rich gravy can disguise burned food. My other option was just giving my kids cereal but that seemed like bad parenting given they had pizza the night before and whatever they could find the night before that. So on that note, do not cook and read…the consequences are not as charming as you think. And we won’t discuss the batch of cookies I just pulled from the oven in the midst of writing this review. Thankfully they are a darker brown not quite black.
I absolutely LOVE the change of perspective. As a writer and with other stories I’ve read, I feel that it is often forgotten and overlooked that the reader doesn’t know what the other characters are feeling, thinking, experiencing. Are they smiling on the outside but crying inside, do they really hate that person or is it a mask, why are they being so cruel? As a reader we wonder so many things, a face can tell a thousand lies in a matter of seconds. Insight to the mind, can tell a thousand truths, ones that the person themselves didn’t even know.
So to change perspective in this book was fantastic, not only did it show their true concerns, their worries, their goals, their motives. It also showed a deeper insight into what life would have been like back then. It gives readers a chance to experience the story on a whole new level. In a lot of ways, experience the story altogether. I am not sure the story itself would have worked quite as well if it was only written in a single perspective. While I personally, still would have been intrigued by it, I love anything from ancient times. My kids probably wouldn’t have been as inclined to read it.
My only gripe with the second book was that I was hoping to read more of Katarina’s story. Most of hers came from her travels with Hephaestion and his perspective.
The style of writing and word choice was fabulous, as a parent I can comfortably read this and know I am not going to have to explain to my kids what this word is and what that means. While I have no issues doing it, when my kids pick up a young adult book and are constantly asking questions it is a good sign the author didn’t think too well about their target audience. This is an area that Eleanor Herman didn’t struggle with at all. It’s clear, concise and fits nicely in that age bracket. It’s grown up enough that it makes a teen feel that are reading an adult novel, but young enough that the reader doesn’t feel they need a PhD to understand what is going on.
The characters themselves are fantastic, but all very similar. They each have issues, obstacles from their past and present lives they are trying to overcome or seek vengeance on. And while I understand the need for strong, determined characters in that period of time, it lacks the diversity that some readers may need.
For teens, these characters are relatable. They are their age, and while the circumstances around their lives are different, older, more “duty driven.” I feel a lot of teens and even adults can relate to it on another level, family expectations, broken relationships (both from friends and family), the desire to prove oneself not just to the world but also to themselves, the ability to dig deep in times of need. There will be times in which a person will read this and go, “that is so me.”
The end of the book got me, while I knew something was coming I wasn’t expecting that. It left me pacing slightly looking at the book going “You have got to be kidding me!” I had this expectation on what was going to happen and well…I was clearly wrong. That said, the ending does explain the beginning a whole lot more. So for those who read the first part and end up sobbing “No, don’t let it be true.” Keep reading! Worst still than all of that, I can’t just order book three.
On that note, I did have a look on Eleanor’s website for a release date, but I couldn’t find one, but there was something on her facebook page about June 2017! So fingers crossed. However, I did see a note that it will be made into WB television series, which is to be produced by Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory), so I will definitely be keeping my eye out for that. I am rather excited about it. I will be pre-ordering Reign of Serpents, as soon as it becomes available.
One of the best comparisons I can make for this series is that it is Game of Thrones for teens. The battle to become and rule the most powerful empire on Earth, set in our own rich history of civilisations.
I give the book 4 quills and I am eagerly awaiting the announcement of the next release.
Please note: I am in no way endorsed, funded, asked or even offered a copy of this book in order to review it.