Title: Voice of Gods
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals (#0.5)
Author: Eleanor Herman
Pages: Varies by device (it’s an ebook exclusively)
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: July 15, 2015
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My Rating: 2 OUT OF 5 STARS. RECOMMENDED FOR THOSE WHO PLAN TO READ LEGACY OF KINGS.
OTHERWISE, IT’S A PAPERWEIGHT.
As the end of an age approaches, gods whisper horrors, families scheme for power, and one woman may hold the secret to a lost legacy.
At 19, Ada of Caria yearns to take the Snake Blood throne from her mad older siblings—and seeks the help of a young orphaned girl named Helen, the first True Oracle to have walked the earth in more than three hundred years.
Helen may be able to channel the voice of the gods, but she hates her gift, and will do anything to get rid of it—even lie to her best friend, Myrtale, the priestess-princess of Epirus who is destined to marry King Philip II of Macedon even though she loves another. And in the shadows lurks a handsome green-eyed stranger who has more at stake—and more to lose—than anyone could possibly imagine.Amid jealousy and heartbreak, torrid affairs and secret rendezvous, it is spoken by the gods that either Helen or Myrtale —newly named Olympias— will carry the destiny of the known world within her womb.
The prequel to LEGACY OF KINGS, VOICE OF GODS traces the intricate web of love and betrayal that led up to the birth of history’s most powerful leader, Alexander the Great.
I had fairly high hopes for this novella, mostly because I’ve been really excited about reading Legacy of Kings, which is the first full-length novel in this series. Sadly, I was fairly disappointed by this book, for several reasons.
First, I found the time jumps between chapters really abrupt. Almost every chapter opens with “three years later”, “a week later”, “three weeks later”, and after a while, I just felt like there were huge chunks of the story missing. I can understand why this was done–it’s only a novella, after all, and there’s not a whole lot of time for the author to spend bridging all the gaps in the story–but by the end of the book, I felt like all the jumps were basically cop-outs. Instead of trying to flesh out the story, Herman tried to cover as much material as possible, leaving her novella feeling like the shell of a story instead of an actual story.
Second, in terms of characterization, I feel like it was handled poorly. Ada felt more like a plot device than a character, because she seemed to serve only the purpose of helping Helen. She gave Helen a place to live and protected her–that’s pretty much it. I loved the idea of her Snake Blood, but that wasn’t explored anywhere near enough. As for Myrtale/Olympias, I didn’t like her character much at all. I feel like she was supposed to be a character of great strength and ambition? Because instead of knowing that, I was only told, repeatedly, that she was ambitious; I never really saw it. She wanted to be Queen, sure, but she definitely didn’t strike me as a particularly driven character. She just didn’t seem to be doing anything to achieve her goals–she just had some. As for her being a strong character, she wasn’t that either. She was completely dependent on the people in her life, especially her lover. He was her entire world, her primary focus, and I feel like that took a lot away from her character. Lastly, to touch quickly on Helen, I never ended up feeling much for her. Her power was cool, and I liked the involvement of smoke in the activation of her gift, but she felt very flat as well. I mean, I can understand why she was so upset about essentially having to choose between talking to the gods or being a virgin for life, but she didn’t seem to have any other characteristic. She either lusted for sex or she spat out oracles that she understood pretty much right away. Her character had no mystery and no depth.
Third, the sexual/romantic content in this story needed a lot of work. The story felt like it put the romance first, the history second, and the plot last, if that helps explain anything. And for a book with such a heavy dependence on the romance, the one sex scene in the book is a fade-to-black, where the character wakes up afterwards in ecstasy and pain. There’s other hints at sex, of course, but nothing is explicit, which feels strange, seeing as the few times sex almost occurs for one of the characters, everything is fairly detailed. Where the would-be lover’s hands are, how the girl is feeling, how hot their bodies become. But then sex is just–I gave myself to him, and then I woke up and it was over. It felt like so strange after all the emphasis on romance for the sex in this story to be avoided so painfully.
Fourth, in regards to the historical element of the story, the details were handled well, but envisioning the world itself was really difficult. I feel like the story slid very quickly into dialogue and inner monologue, which is fine, but each chapter had roughly the same set up: description of time of day or location, followed by dialogue and events. After a while, I stopped being able to see the world where the story was happening. Everything was just a dark corridor or bedroom, without embellishment. Personally, I need description in order to bring the plot and the characters to life; I feel like description is a character all of its own, and without it, the world is flat, colourless, and lifeless. I just couldn’t see what in the world was going on in some of the chapters, and even cities that should have been beautiful, like Halicarnassus, held no life for me.
Finally, I felt like the plot of the story was badly planned out. The summary for the novella implies a lot of things that the story itself does not deliver. The man with the green eyes comes and goes, and the two children of prophecy (Helen’s and Olympias’) don’t even have a role in the story at all. I spent all novel waiting for something important to happen with these children, but nothing came. And there’s also no sense of mystery about whose child will be “the one”, seeing as Olympias is very clearly giving birth to Alexander the Great, so…there’s no sense of suspense there at all. And the story itself just of ends, at the end. There’s no arch in the plot, no ups and downs. The story just trudges along and then ends, with all the problems of the second last chapter solved by a few lines in what is essentially an epilogue.
The one great thing about this book is the fact that it provides the backstory to Legacy of Kings, which I am still looking forward to. But if it could have been better fleshed out, or summarized in some kind of prologue, it probably would have been better. Maybe Herman should have focused on one protagonist instead of 3? Because clearly dividing her attention between all these characters did not help her create a well-developed cast or world. If you’ll allow me to paraphrase Bilbo Baggins, the story essentially felt like it was butter spread over too much bread–and for this novella, that proves to be fatal.