I was really excited to read this book. The fact that the author was so young when she wrote this created a lot of interest for me. I thought Legacy had a great beginning (major international war, infant massacre, baby missing...). It had such an epic background, but how did the actual plot measure up? Honestly, I didn't feel there was much of a story arc.
The problem of Alera and her inevitable betrothal to the egotistical, military man Steldor is beat over the reader's head, without really introducing any other problems the character must face. Alera doesn't change very much from beginning to end either, leaving the book vapid of any serious character development.
Alera as a protagonist disappointed me. She seemed a little too naive (even for a teenager). Not that being naive is a bad thing, but she annoyed me. For instance, she tattles on her beloved bodyguard for leaving his post, then she seems shocked that he gets fired, and is upset because he's mad at her. Not that all in all those wouldn't be normal reactions, just the execution of how the character has these feelings and her action and dialogue came off as a little irksome.
Secondary characters were flat and uninteresting. The one character that intrigued me was Alera's former bodyguard, but Narian, her love interest, the one Alera focuses all her attention on, is kind of the stereotypical underdog. Also, I noticed that sentences and dialogue seemed to repeat themselves throughout the book. I can't remember the exact place I found the quotes, but there is one bit of dialoge that I read in the beginning along the lines of "I know that father won't approve of any other suitor to be my husband other than Steldor!" Then 300 pages later, "Father won't approve of a suitor who is not Steldor!" We get it. We get it. Stop whining Alera and actually DO SOMETHING.
In terms of the setting, there was a part where Alera mentions how her father had her study Latin. This pulled me out of the world altogether. What is Latin doing in Hytanica? Also, some of the prose seemed wooden and forced, as if the author became to friendly with a thesaurus while she wrote this.
Reading Legacy is kind of like tearing off a band aid at a ridiculously slow pace. You realize early on that Alera is too passive to truly fight for herself, so you know that unless a knight in shining armor saves her*, she is going to end up succumbing to her father's and Steldor's wishes. You just need to read 400 or so pages to actually see it happen. The book is filled with needless descriptions of clothes and furniture. It could lose 200 pages and be, pretty much, the same thing. Only better because then it would consist of less text to get through.
I will not be reading the other books in this series. However, I am interested in following the author's career and other stories she may write. There is a lot of potential there, and I have a feeling she'll be successful in the long run.
The reason I am giving this one more card than one is because I think this is a fabulous achievement for someone the author's age. I also was intrigued in the beginning, even though my interest in the book fizzled out rather quickly
*Despite the fact the novel appears(?) to look down on the misogynistic culture of Hytanica, I find plots with women who do little to fight for themselves, and allow themselves to be governed by men, a tad sexist. Yes Alera, "spoke up" for herself now and then, but I don't think she was that strong of a character.