I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is June 28, 2016.
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.
I had been looking forward to this sequel for so long and in a few ways, it was better than the first one. There was so much world building and the author had this incredible ability to transport me to that time period. This author definitely did her homework about so many things. There was one twist that surprised me a bit about Alexander, but I guess it shouldn't have. In the author's notes, she talked about how there were rumors swirling about that during King Alexander's reign. I didn't really know much about the time period before reading this series so I love reading the author's notes and reading about how much of this book was accurate.
I loved Heph and Katerina. Heph spent a majority of the book trying to get back in Alexander's good graces while trying to ignore his feelings for Katerina. I think I am coming around to the Katerina and Heph pairing. They just fit better than Katerina and Jacob. And the slow burn of the sexual tension between them was AWESOME. I do think that Heph's realization that he loved Katerina was a bit fast, but I think that's how things worked back then so I was fine with it. Speaking of Jacob, he is still enmeshed with the Aesrian Lords and is trying to make a name for himself with them and also trying to forget about Katerina. Then there was Cynane and Olympias . . . both of them are evil to the core and yet, I LOVE THEM.
Okay, here's why I didn't give this book more than three stars: WAY TOO MANY POV'S. Honestly, there were so many characters than the ones I mentioned (I just talked about my favorites). There were several POVs that I didn't care about and I would actually skim those sections. Regarding the POVs that I did care about, the author would cut them off at a crucial point and then when the author picked their story back up, there would be a small time jump with that person. It drove me crazy. There were also a LOT of subplots and I didn't really understand how most of them connected with each other until the end. There are still a few subplots that I don't get.
There was a lot of action though and a lot of battles and a lot of betrayal and drama. There were also some twists that I did not see coming and the ending left me craving the next book in the series!
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Borrow this one. No, this is not my favorite YA Fantasy series but it's still one worth reading.