Oh! Next up is Breaking Legacies by Zoe Reed. I don't remember why I bought this one, but there's a blue dragon inside a ring of flame on the cover all made of stone, which feels like a strong hint about the contents. wandering.shop/media/9JtPF0CbO

It's been a while! I finished Breaking Legacies by Zoe Reed and a whole other book (stay tuned for the next thread).

I have so many thoughts on this one, y'all. So it's gonna be a bit of a toot storm. Strap in and tighten your gas masks.

It's... that's a fart joke, y'all. Because toots.

Ahem. Anyway. Here we go.

OK. So it's a fantasy novel. The man character is a young lesbian. She derring does and the stakes are high. It's all very exciting. She falls in love. There's some will-they/won't-they. I really liked all of those parts. The romantic parts in particular were really sweet and pure in the first... 2/3 of the book or so?

Part way through there is a, uh, VERY sexy sexy-times scene. It's very... specific without using anatomical or explicit language. So it's very lewd, but not rude, I guess. Also that's a rhyme, so.

It also isn't just smut. It matters in the plot and the relationship and the plot and relationship matter in the scene. It works because it addresses their emotions throughout. I thought it was well done.

Also, I read that bit on the bus (where I do most of my reading) and it was super embarrassing. Not that I expect anybody knew what was up. Still.


This book reminded me a lot of the Dragonoak trilogy by Sam Farren. Without spoilers for either story, this is true in both:

The main character is a lesbian from a small rural village. She is illiterate. She has a run-in with and falls for a woman from an urban center who is highly educated and moves in circles of nobility. The kingdom has something rotten at the core. By making friends and being awesome, the main character is uniquely positioned to fix the rot.

Oh also: "Fixing the rot" means replacing a "bad monarch" with a "good monarch". Not, like, some sort of representative government or something. Some unexamined political whatevers there, I expect.

With the extent of the commonalities (and another that I'll address separately), it was hard to be as in love with this story as with Dragonoak. I don't know if that's anyone's fault at all. It's just, you know, the second time you see something, it's not, well, new any more.

There's one more commonality between the two stories. And on seeing it a second time, I think it's a criticism I have of both: The depiction of falling and being in love and relationships is... off.

I can't speculate about the why, of course. But the manner of off-ness is like this. The characters in question fall in lover very hard (not surprising or off) and then seem to stay in that honeymoon phase permanently (that's the off part).

Almost all of the conflict (in the narrative sense) around the relationship comes from things external to the relationship. I got the sense that if the world left these people alone, they'd be perfectly in love and perfectly happy forever without any work at all.

Which, like, I understand as a pretty story, but... I guess I found it somewhat unsatisfying? It made it seem like the non-POV partner was less of a person in her own right.

I guess I would like to have seen a bit more divergence of opinion between the two characters and some amount of having to compromise. When there were disagreements, it was mostly around one of them being wrong and OH HOW WRONG they were. Which leads me to...

I feel like the main character (again in both stories) took a lot of blame for things that were, like, a million percent not her fault? I guess I understand intellectually that there are people who do that, but it seemed so self-flagellatory. There is, in particular, one moment that is treated by the main character (and even many characters around her) as a giant betrayal. But I'm not sure what moral framework exists where she did the wrong thing.

She was put in a horrible situation and had to choose between shitty and more shitty. It's not really a betrayal to choose "shitty" in that situation, IMO. The fault for that lies in the person who created the situation, not the person put in it. IDK. I felt like the fiction was saying that it was her fault because no one around he was like, "Uh. No. You did the right thing. Let's try to fix the shitty part, but it's not you. You did the best anyone could."

OK. Comparative potion over. Now I will contrast Breaking Legacies and Dragonoak. Heh.

The main thing I wanna say about differences is that while Dragonoak is, in many ways, ABOUT trauma and how we deal with it and rise above it and left each other above it and could, thus, be pretty triggerey for some readers... I don't think Breaking Legacies is remotely as triggerey. Bad things happen to characters, sure, but they're not as detailed or drawn out BY FAR.

Last thing, I think: A lot of NPC-types centered the POV character pretty hard. Like, she's real young and finds herself very quickly trusted by powerful people who have every reason not to trust people easily. A bit like Luke Skywalker just waltzing into being handed a FIGHTER JET by the Rebel Alliance. Maybe a little more heavily than that example.

Oh. Haha. I almost forgot about this bit. It's super small, but I was amused. The book, a few times, uses the word "equip" in a super stilted way. No one says things like, "The sword flew out of my hand and skittered across the floor, so I equipped my dagger and rushed him." There's a TON of verbs that would work there, but "equipped" feels super weird to me. The author prolly has played a lot of RPGs. Heh. Same, Zoe. Same.

So, yeah. Over all, I liked the book. I was rooting for the main character to win the whole time. I was rooting for her to fall in love and for the love to work out the whole time. Every time the relationship progressed a click I was super happy. Don't let my criticisms make it seem like I disliked it. This is a case of being able to look critically at something you enjoyed and see it's flaws regardless.

@benhamill I love comparative book reviews. I've done a few on the blog, so this was great to read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

@abetterjulie Thanks. I don't think I'd have even considered the idea if the similarities weren't SO STRIKING.

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