Legacy Of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Legacy Of Kings

byEleanor Herman

Hardcover | August 18, 2015

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Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains, and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise. 

Alexander, Macedon's sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world, but finds himself drawn to a newcomer 

Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while keeping hidden her own mission: kill the queen. But she doesn't account for her first love 

Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince.  

And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander's unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters. 

Weaving fantasy with the shocking details of real history, New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known, Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

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Title:Legacy Of KingsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 9.47 × 6.37 × 1.38 inPublished:August 18, 2015Publisher:HarlequinLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0373211724

ISBN - 13:9780373211722

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Katerina races across the meadow, scanning for any roots or rocks in her way. Her heart thumps wildly in her chest. Her legs ache. The gazelle leaps slightly ahead of her, its hooves barely touching the grass. It is a blur of tan and white, with long, black-ringed horns; a creature not fully of the earth, but also of the sky.Ahead of them, the forest looms, and far beyond it, she knows, lie all the villages and woods between Erissa and the capital. A sudden breeze rushes through her tangled brown hair. Her lungs burn. Instinctively she knows the gazelle does not fear her; it is challenging her. She can feel its heartbeat, its heat, its aliveness radiating in her own chest. It wants her to catch up with it.When Kat was a child, her mother always told her to keep her special understanding of animals' thoughts and feelings a secret—such knowledge was dangerous. But that was beforeInto her mind flows the image of her mother's shining blue eyes, her cream-colored veil slipping from her golden-brown hair. She hears her voice: low, throaty, with just the trace of a Carian accent. Kat is flooded, momentarily, by a sweet, familiar comfort. But then she feels the harsh pang in her throat that always follows, as her memories dissolve into echoing screams.Kat stumbles and the gazelle leaps ahead, kicking out front and hind legs at the same time. Raw, visceral rage consumes her, forces her to run faster, through a copse of razor-edged grass that rips and shreds her bare legs.The sun is sliding down toward the horizon. The gazelle casts a brief glance back at her with enormous, moist brown eyes. It's time. It's time, it's time, it's time.The gazelle dashes into the tree line at the edge of the meadow. Kat surges forward, just inches behind the creature now, focused on the horns, perfectly straight like unlit torches beckoning her, even as the animal darts through the trees. As deftly as possible, Kat follows, dodging branches and ducking beneath low-hanging limbs.In the next few strides she will be able to touch—She slams into something hard.Reeling backward toward the ground, she sees blue sky and green branches overhead, grass and mud and blue sky again, and thenblackness. Kat realizes that her left cheek is on the ground. She opens her eyes, and they focus slowly."Kat!" It's Jacob's voice. "Are you all right? I'm so sorry. I thought you saw me."Slowly she sits up, rubbing her head, her breath coming in jagged gasps. A pair of strong, tanned legs stands before her, leading up to the broad, commanding form of her oldest friend. The boy Kat has known longer and better, it sometimes seems, than she has known herself. A boy who, until recently, was equal parts playmate and pest. Now, he has grown taller and handsomer and somehow resists falling into either category the way he used to.Kat cranes to look around him and can no longer see the gazelle's graceful form. She's lost it."Here," Jacob says, offering her a hand.Kat can't get her breath enough to speak, and her head is still spinning, but she grabs his hand and allows him to pull her to her feet.Jacob raises an eyebrow, making his broad, tan face look a little goofy. "You're a mess," he points out unhelpfully. "And you've cut your legs, Kat." He shakes his head at her like she's a wayward pony who keeps breaking out of its pen.She brushes herself off, scoffing. "I'm fine, Jacob. At least, I was fine until you got in my way.""I can't believe you were after that gazelle on foot. You're crazy." He shakes his head."You're clumsy," she throws back.He smiles. "That's me."She can't help but laugh a little, shoving him out of her way. "Well, now that you've ruined my fun, the least you can do is carry my supplies home. Come on," she says, taking the game bag with knives and nets off her back and tossing it at him.He catches the bag against his chest. "Holy gods, what's in here?"She shrugs. "Only some trapping gear.""Kat, hang on a minute. You can't go back likelike that."She turns to stare at him, still unable to fully take in the new Jacob, the Jacob who has existed for several months now, maybe longer—the Jacob who is more than just a hilarious partner in crimewhose broad, muscled shoulders, and lopsided grin keep causing her pulse to stutter just slightly."Like what?" she demands, knowing full well she probably looks like a living tumbleweed that's just been dragged across the countryside by a strong wind.He rolls his eyes. "At least wash off in the pond before we head back for dinner. It's kind ofimportant."She cocks her head at him, wondering what he's hiding—she can always tell when he's got a secret. When it's clear he's not going to say anything further, she sighs and follows him to the wide, deep pond at the west end of the meadow, where, she knows, wolves and foxes venture out of the woods at dusk to lap its clean water. On the hottest nights of the summer she has even seen a bear and its baby bathing and floating, two dark lumps that could've been fat fallen tree trunks but for the bubbles drifting from their mouths.She takes off her leather shoes and belt and sinks into the cool water in just her tunic, all the way up to her waist. Her breath is coming more slowly now; her head has stopped spi-raling. She closes her eyes and sighs.Then she hears a rippling sound. It's Jacob wading in beside her."Come on. Why were you after that gazelle?" he asks, laughter in his voice. "I could tell you weren't planning to kill it.""I was racing it, not chasing." She sinks under the water completely, feeling her hair float around her in the murky silence. Though he knows almost every little detail about Kat—the way she likes her goose meat prepared just on the brink of completely charred, the way she nibbles her thumb when she's worried and disappears into the fields when she's sad—this is one thing he doesn't know about, wouldn't understand. This feeling deep in her chest, this perception that others don't share. The way the animals whisper to her in their strange language of hunger and need and drive. Their focus. Their wisdom.And sometimes, their warnings.She surfaces, takes a deep breath of air, and rubs the water out of her eyes. "For the first time ever, I was going to catch up. And you ruined it." She splashes water at him.Jacob turns his head away too late, then begins laughing. He charges back at her with an even bigger splash. She screams, then runs toward the grassy edge of the pond, feeling the water's resistance over her tired legs. He follows her, splashing her back as hard as he can. She turns to splash him again and he stops abruptly, his mouth falling open in surprise."What? Scared?" she says, before realizing his gaze is directed not at her face but her body. Kat looks down and gasps. Her unbleached tunic is soaking wetand perfectly transparent. He can see, well, almost everything. Feeling heat rise into her cheeks, she quickly covers herself with her arms.Moving through the heavy, waist-high water, he reaches her and places his hands on her shoulders, even as she starts to back away. His look is so intense, so full of feeling, Kat suddenly can't move.His chest rises and falls as though he's having trouble breathing. "Kat, I want to tell you I—" He closes his mouth, clearly unable to say whatever it is he's holding in.Kat can't remember the last time she and Jacob didn't know what to say to each other. The way he's looking at her now, with his hair dripping pond water down his big, strong, square face and shoulders, it's like they are two strangers.His lips part again, and she feels her whole body start to shiver just slightly.And then he is leaning in, so close she can smell the familiar, earthy scent of clay dust in his hair, so close his lips touch hers. Suddenly, he pulls her strongly toward him and her arms drop away from her wet tunic, grabbing his back as he kisses her, his tongue softly parting her mouth.The kiss is slow and hesitant at first, and then, when she doesn't pull away, it grows deeper, and Kat finds herself clinging to him. She can feel his hard strong body against her wet clothes, sending tingles all across her skin.How could this be happening? her mind is screaming. Jacob is like her brother—no, not brother. Foster brother. Son of Cleon the potter and Sotiria, the people who'd raised her since she was six afterafter.Her thoughts melt into feelings so strong they overpower her. He is kissing her eyes, her neck, pressing himself tightly against her wet tunic—"Jacob! Kat!"They separate so quickly that Kat falls into the water with a hard splash. When she stands, arms crossed over her chest again, she sees Calas, Jacob's little brother, running toward them."There you are!" Cal pushes his curls out of his eyes. "Mother wants you both to come home now and help with dinner. It's rabbit stew!"Rabbit stew? That's Jacob's favorite. Now she knows something is up.She and Jacob slosh out of the pond and wring the water from their tunics and hair. From her sack she grabs a spare cloth she usually uses for wrapping game and throws it around her shoulders. They sit on the grass to lace their shoes and put on their belts. Then they start following Calas, who is running and skipping ahead, beating the tall grass with a stick.The silence between them is thick. Kat still can't completely comprehend what just happened. Jacob's hands. His smell. His lips It's all an unreal dream, and yet she knows it was real. And something, some small voice deep inside her, knows that it has been coming for a long time, even if in the moment it felt like a shock.But what does it mean? Will everything be different now? She shakes her head, unable to process it, trying to focus instead on what the mysterious dinner could be about. "So? What am I missing? Why the celebration?"Jacob shakes his head. "It'swellunexpected," he says slowly, and for the second time that day Kat knows he's hiding something important from her."Did Cleon get a big contract?""No," Jacob says, smiling sheepishly."If you don't tell me right now what it is, I'll—" She raises a playful, faux-threatening hand.He grabs her wrist. "You'll what?" he whispers. Suddenly, she's embarrassed, and turns away.They keep walking. Finally, it seems the silence is too much for Jacob, too."I wanted to wait to tell you," he begins. "Doros and Kyk-nos came from a meeting of the village elders, and believe it or not, I was chosen to be Erissa's contestant in the tournament. I'm going to be in the tournament," he repeats, as though he can hardly believe it.Kat stops dead in her tracks. The Blood Tournament. The name conjures up images of knives flashing, throats slashed, arms and legs hacked off, eyes gouged out. "They chose you?""You don't have to act quite so surprised." For a second, he looks wounded. He clears his throat. "I'm going to do it. I leave tomorrow.""You can't go," she says quickly. "They'll kill you. You're only seventeen. Some of the contestants are Olympic athletes, professional wrestlers, and soldiers. Think about Bendis!" When their village had sent Bendis to the tournament four years ago, he never returned. "He was twenty-five," she presses on, "and bigger than you, and—""I've trained with the village militia," Jacob cuts in.Kat can't help but roll her eyes. "With rusty swords and bent arrows. That training is a joke." You'll get killed. She can't shake the horrible thought from her head, but she can't say it, either. I can't lose you, too.Jacob plucks a piece of leaf from her wet hair and sighs. "Kat. I'm no good as a potter. It's like Father says—I'm all thumbs. Even Cal can throw a better pot than I can. I need to find my own future, away from here. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a man now, and I need to do something with my life." The words come out hard, determined—it's a side to him she doesn't always see. "It's a great honor," he says, lower now. "The best contestants in the Blood Tournament are chosen to join the king's elite guard, the Hypaspists.""So you'll leave us," she says. It's the simple truth. Someone may as well say it. Even if her throat aches as she does. "You won't come back."He runs the back of his hand over her cheek, startling her. "I'll come back," he says softly, "once I have something to offer. Something to offeryou." She can see his tan face blushing. "Just, don'tdon't do anything in my absence."They've stopped walking again; Cal runs down a dirt road ahead of them.Something to offer you. She knows what he means, suddenly and seriously, and it's as though she's been plunged backward into the pond all over again.The kiss—everything that happened between them only moments ago—it shocked her. Amazed her. She had no idea something like that could happen, with him. She had no idea how much she had wanted it before. She couldn't believe how good it felt, and right. But still, what he's saying now.It's so much more than that, isn't it? He wants her. Wants to be with her, and have her, only. Not as a sister or friend. As a wife.And even though her body is still vibrating from his touches, and even though she's tempted to pull him off the side of the road and kiss him again, the idea of wife stops her, freezes her. She wants him. She didn't know it before, but it's so clear now.But she's not ready. She still has something—something terrible and desperate and secret—that she must do. Deep within her, inside her bones and in her blood, she knows she won't ever be happy otherwise.She swallows. "I won'tdo anything in your absence," she says. Because at least that part is true. The village boys who flirt with her mean nothing to her. "But I can't— I don't—" She stops, at a loss for words.But he obviously hears her hesitation, sees the stricken look in her eyes, because a wave of pain washes over his face. He takes a step back. "Of course. I understand."Then he turns and strides briskly away from her."You don't," she calls after him, but he doesn't turn around. How can she tell him she needs to finish the unfinished? He would say she was crazy, risking her life for the impossible. He would try to stop her, would ruin everything.

Editorial Reviews

"Power dynamics abound in Legacy of Kings...rich in court intrigue." -RT Book Reviews