Title: Empire of Dust (Blood of Gods and Royals #2)
Author: Eleanor Herman
Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 28th, 2016
Kindle Edition: 432 Pages
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 ancient history with epic fantasy in the second book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.
“We are not Persians, Alexander, too cowed by the whip of the Great King to utter a word or think a single thought he might disapprove of. You would grow to despise your own people if they were like that. When you possess power over those whose lives, whose minds, you do not value, all you will have… is an empire of dust.”
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I did not write a review of Legacy of Kings. It was such a letdown that I could not articulate my exact feelings on the book. Looking back, it was shock. I was baffled at how disappointed I was. Was it possible for a book about a legendary conqueror to be so very boring? While waiting for Empire of Dust, I convinced myself the first book was just the intro. I couldn’t pass any judgement until I had read the sequel. So, when I saw it pop up on Netgalley, I couldn’t resist. It had to be better, right? Actually, yes. It is better. Sadly, it was not better by much.
When I picked up Empire of Dust, I wanted to read about Alexander the Great. I wanted to see him grow into a fabled king, but this book isn’t really about Alexander. Sure, he’s in it, but his chapters feel sparse and unimportant. Even the featured battle seems like a footnote in someone else’s story, which is likely due to the fact that there are eight different POV characters. It helps that certain characters, like Katerina and Hephaestion, are almost always seen together, but it still leads to pacing issues and a general lack of character development. I am still wondering if characters like Zofia and Jacob are truly necessary for the overarching story, especially since Zofia has never been in the company of Alexander
and has no real connection to him aside from a failed betrothal. Her story, while interesting on its own, doesn’t mesh well with the others and gives the reader a bit of literary whiplash.
The budding romance between Katerina and Hephaestion takes center stage, and it is possibly the most interesting of the many story lines. That said, I don’t want to read about Hephaestion’s relationship with Alexander’s twin sister. I want to read about his relationship with Alexander and how it evolved from friendship to romance. I know, I know. Historians disagree on whether or not they were romantically involved. I obviously fall on the side that believes they were. Aristotle said they were “one soul abiding two bodies.” I want to see that relationship portrayed here. It could still happen, but with the added complication of Hephaestion’s feelings for Katerina. It seems like either a missed opportunity to feature a truly compelling LGBT relationship or a love triangle of epic proportions. Neither of those options is really a winner in my book.
In the end. I found Empire of Dust only slightly better than its predecessor. The action picked up across all of the storylines and headed in an interesting direction, but unfortunately that progress is dragged down by the many points of view and the frequent use of anachronistic nicknames for the characters. If you add in my personal distaste for books written in the present tense, this one just didn’t do it for me. I don’t often abandon series midway through, but I can’t see myself continuing on with this one.