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Oaths of Legacy

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Oaths of Legacy reads a little more slowly than Bonds of Brass but readers will still be happy to go along the journey. Told entirely from Gal's perspective as prisoner of the Archon empire, there are moments of whiny exposition but it's worth reading through those passages. Skrutskie has built a fascinating world and I look forward to the next in the series.
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i wanted to like this book so much more than i did 

bonds of brass was a surprise to me with how much i enjoyed it, and i was excited to read this book, even knowing the pov was going to change and where we left off with the previous. however, i really struggled to get through this one. the characters felt very different from the ones i met in the original book, and while i do like politics, there felt like too much in this that i wasn't super invested in. eventually i got into this book, but it took much longer than i liked, and i was left feeling, unfortunately, dissatisfied. i was missing out on the emotions that i felt in the first, for the characters and their relationships. i could see glimpses of what i liked originally, but they were too far away from what i was actually reading to be super happy with it. i'll still be reading the last book, but honestly it's mostly just for closure on my part.
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I wasn’t a big fan of Gal in the last book, so when I heard this one would be from his POV? Well, I had my reservations. Luckily, while I spent most of the book wanting to smack Gal upside the head, I also very much enjoyed it. This book contains definite spoilers for Bonds of Brass, so be warned!

“It never would have worked,” I tell him. “It took me a while to understand it, but . . . I got there.”
I got there the moment he claimed his bloodright. There are no soft wars to be waged here. This ends in blood—his, mine, or maybe both of ours—and no other way will suffice.
“I turned you into this,” Ettian says, staring into his cup. “And now you’re trying to turn me into you.”

After Ettian’s ascension as emperor of the Archon empire (such as it is), Gal, heir to the Umber empire, became his prisoner. But aside from a few chances to show him off, Gal’s captivity has been relatively luxurious. That all changes when, after an assassination attempt, Ettian assigns Wen to be his guard. There’s no love lost between the two: Gal resents Wen for her near-immediate connection to Ettian, and Wen thinks Gal is a stuck-up example of the worst of Umber (she’s not entirely wrong). With the war heating up, Gal must decide once and for all where his loyalty lies: with his empire, or with Ettian.

Gal is a highly conflicted character, and it’s certainly interesting being inside his head and seeing his rationalizations for his actions. Gal spent his years at the academy finding every way to rebel against his mother’s violent rule, but now that Ettian’s in power, he believes he needs to become that monster in order to protect the remaining Umber planets. Gal still loves his mother, and still believes that blood right is the only thing that matters, that those under him should be honored to serve his slightest whim without question. Watching how those assumptions hold up when faced with the completely different operating style of the Archon empire is both bittersweet and, well, pettily joyful.

“I can’t look at him. I have to look at him. He’s a black hole and a burning sun all at once, the gravitational center of everyone in the room. All I want is to escape him, but everything about him makes that impossible.”

Gal wants to hate Ettian, but even with everything that’s happened, he’s still in love with him, no matter how he tries to fool himself otherwise. Even when given every opportunity, Gal can’t quite make himself hurt Ettian – at least not physically. To be frank, Gal’s motivations are a bit of a mess throughout the book, making plans and then discarding them in favor of ones completely the opposite. It’s no surprise, honestly, as he’s frightened, betrayed and desperately trying to be what he thinks the ideal Umber heir is. He rationalizes his attempts to befriend people as efforts to sway them to his side. If he wants to escape, he needs Wen on his side, and the only way to get it is to help her – and by extension, the rebellion. He can only push down his feelings for Ettian for so long, though, and it’s his slow and unsettling realizations about those feelings that provide most of the angst in the book.

Ettian is less successful at hiding his feelings for Gal, which leads to questions about his commitment, ones that can be used to sway power back towards General Maxo Iral. But it’s Ettian who’s keeping Gal alive, and if Iral (or any of the many other Archon commanders) becomes the true power, that also means it’s more likely that Gal will be executed in a particularly gruesome manner. Gal is faced with competing goals: undermine the Archon empire by any means possible, or in more subtle ways that keep Ettian (and by extension Gal) alive.

“There’s no line, is there? Between you looking out for me and you manipulating me?”
“That’s ruttin’ rich, coming from the guy who literally took me prisoner to save my life.”

Gal and Ettian spend less time together in this book which means there’s a lot less romance. In some ways, this is a good thing. Gal needs the space and time to work on himself (or maybe he just needs Wen to smack him into next Sunday, I’m still unclear on which I want). But one of the things that really delighted me about the first book was the romantic tension between the two of them. When it’s in this book, it’s absolutely sizzling, but there’s just not enough of it for me.

And then there’s Wen. It’s clear the author she’s a favorite of the author as well. She gets some of the best lines in the book and by virtue of the bodyguard plot, Gal spends a lot of time with her. It’s Wen’s rising star that makes Gal question himself – how does the daughter of a small-time crime boss rise so high, over Gal whose bloodright was born to rule an empire? Wen’s busy trying to figure that out herself, trying to find her place in a war between two empires she doesn’t belong to, and torn between friendships with two people on opposing sides of that war. There’s also more Esperza, who’s one of my favorite minor side characters.

“Ah, Gal. You’ll figure it out eventually.”

As for cons, this book definitely has middle book syndrome. There’s a feeling of pieces being maneuvered in to place for the final book in the trilogy, which means there’s several plot points that take up a lot of pages but don’t quite go anywhere in this book. The same can be said of much of the plot, as there’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait sort of plotting, but that at least culminates in a pretty epic space battle. Overall, though, it’s the sort of book that’s easy to pick up and hard to put down, one that sucks you in so that you lose complete track of time.

Overall, a good second book, and given the cliffhanger, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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3.5 stars

I love Ettian and missed his perspective soooo much. This book definitely suffered middle book syndrome. Honestly Gal felt like a complete different character and I almost dnf-ed the book a few times. I couldn't stand him but I want to know how this story ends so I'll be picking up book 3.
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Pretty good second novel of a trilogy, I'm very much looking forward to the last installment! Looking forward to seeing how these boys end up. Gotta love that friends to enemies to lovers
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A good second book. I'm looking forward to the next, to see how everyone's machinations play out. I always enjoy in series how each book expands the world and the cast of characters and we get to see that things are always more complicated than they at first appear.
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This sequel to Bonds of Brass will only not work for you if you, like me, are not a fan fiction person, and your brain is constantly trying to make 1:1 connections the whole time you read it, ruining any ability you have to enjoy it. If you are not that kind of person, it is an excellent book and especially a solid middle book in this trilogy(?).
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I found this addition to the series to be exciting, and i can't wait for the end of the trilogy. I wish the pacing was more consistent, but overall would reccomend to fans of the series.
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When I finished Bonds of Brass last year, I couldn’t wait to pick up the sequel. I had to know what happened after that cliffhanger of an ending! But then I picked up Oaths of Legacy this year, and it just didn’t quite have the same magic. 

Oaths of Legacy is entirely Gal’s story. Although it was still somewhat entertaining and fast-paced, I just wasn’t as engaged with this one as I was with Bonds of Brass. Likely because Gal really started getting on my nerves over the course of the book with his constant attitude + plotting. Sticking with only Gal’s point of view the entire book was a bit tiring, particularly because I loved the back and forth of Bonds of Brass.

Overall, Oaths of Legacy was an okay book that didn’t have most of the aspects that I had originally loved about this series. I’ll still be checking out Vows of Empire because I want to see if this series can redeem itself. But I won’t be anxiously awaiting the next book.
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Gal’s struggle with anxiety/panic and his conflicting feelings were so moving to read. Strutskie writes in a way that establishes the characters and their relationships so well, allowing readers to connect and relate deeply to them, while leaving room for imagination to flourish. The parallels between the BoB and OoL epilogues were so powerful. Overall 4/5 stars for the second book in The Bloodright Trilogy
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After the betrayal from the man he loves that ends up saving his life, Gal emp-Umber schemes his way straight out of the frying pan and into the fire. After an assassination attempt on his life gone wrong, Gal's security is enhanced. By the one person he wishes it wasn't. Still reeling from knowledge that Ettian and him are sworn enemies, he pours all his efforts into undermining Ettian's control and weakening Archon's respect for their Emperor, right until he's thrust into deep space with an Archon general who wants him dead, and Ettian's power is the only thing keeping his head on his neck. As Gal struggles with coming to terms of his bloodright means for his feelings for Ettian, Ettian himself is at the command of a war that threatens to wipe the idea of Archon away forever. Skrutskie has a fantastic way of blending humor within her work, and an intergalactic war is no exception. Oaths of Legacy starts off as a slowburn middle book that immediately knocks a reader off their feet as Gal, Ettian, and Wen kick it into gear to save their own necks as well as each others.
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I really enjoyed this sequel but I will say it’s much slower than the first book. It’s a lot of waiting and thinking about plotting next moves without much doing. I do think there’s a decent amount of character development for our main trio though and it’s worth the sacrifice of a fast paced story to flesh out their characters for this series to continue. With that I said I think it’s a strong second book and the last 35% is very fast and leaves you wanting more like the first book did.
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Actual rating: 3.5 stars 

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first. I did like the short chapters and the relatively fast pace, but I didn’t find Gal particularly sympathetic. His smug, manipulative personality was very at odds with his persona in book 1, and I found myself still rooting for Ettian anyway. 

Parts of the book dragged a bit, but I liked the ending, and I’ll probably still read book 3 just to see how it all ends.
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Thank you so much, NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and Del Rey, for the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review.

Gal's destiny was clear. Complete his training at the military academy, prove his worth as royal successor and ascend to his throne. But when a failed assassination plot sends him and his best friend and roomate Ettian running away, his plans are disrupted. But when he's captured and faces public execution, Ettian decides to save him by revealing his true identity: he's the true heir of the fallen Archon Empire and Gal's enemy. Now his political hostage, Gal is willing to do anything to sabotage the rebellion and help the empire he has to lead. But nothing is simple in war and love and he will be forced to decide between loyalty, power and love.

I LOVED Oaths of Legacy! After the brilliant and heartwrenching ending of the first book, I needed the sequel as soon as possible and I wasn't disappointed. As the first one it's an emotional rollercoaster, full of plot twists, intense and heartbreaking moments, loyalty, love, power, impossible decisions and so much more.
I love Gal and Ettian. Their relationship is awfully complicated by what they are and what they represent to others (the rebellion, the empire and so on) and their feelings and actions are even more difficult. Nothing is simple in their lives and the author did an outstanding job in expressing everything.
I also loved that Gal was the narrator and main character in this sequel and it was a pleasure reading his feelings and thoughts, even though he can be a little frustrating.
The story is intense, fast-pacing and really well written. I was right away involved, my attention captured and...really, stop doing cliffhangers, because my heart isn't ready to wait!!!
That said...where's the third book?
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This one suffered from being a middle book. There second half has some great space battle moments and character developments. However, the drama between Gal and Ettian just felt drawn out and manufactured. I also was not entirely fond of the narration style by Gal where he comments on everything. This kind of bogged down the narrative in the first half. For a book that is already under 300 pages, there shouldn’t be enough room to be slow. I wish we had more information on the General and some of the other secondary characters. Will I read the third one? Probably but less committed to it than I was after the first one. If you want really good space opera with gay MCs, I suggest Winter’s Orbit instead.
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A galaxy-wide rebellion is in the offing when a conquered Archon Empire rises from the ashes to challenge the mighty machine of the reigning Umber Empire.  And, caught up in it all are three young people who are at the helm of destiny while still coming into their own.  The first book, Bonds of Brass, left off on a stunning note and Oaths of Legacy carries things forward.

It is at this point that I’ll caution readers that if you plan to read the series then don’t read the blurb or the rest of my review.  Too late, right?  Oh well, there are still lots of twists and turns to come so I’ll keep those to myself.

At the end of Bonds of Brass, Gal who was on the run when an assassination attempt was tried while he was attending academy, ends up captured by the Archon rebellion and thinks his number is going to be punched until his academy roomie, escape partner, and blossoming romance interest steps forward and reveals his true identity as a lost last Archon royal and he wants Gal kept as a political prisoner rather than executed.

Oaths of Legacy switches from Ettian’s to be told all from Gal’s perspective.  I was glad to have the chance at both their points of view after really enjoying the first book told by Ettian.  But, I have to admit that Gal was in a lousy mood learning his best friend is now his sworn enemy since he’s his prisoner now and all.  It was grueling at times when he was near Ettian the way he picked and prodded at the guy to provoke him.  But worse, Gal was a true Umber in his calculated thinking of hating Ettian and stirring up as much trouble as he could to undermine him and ultimately see his new reign topple.  Gal never saw himself as cold and cruel like his mother, but he struggles to come to terms with the fact that he shares his bloodline’s pride and belief in their right to rule and that he knows better than anyone else how to rule.  He spends a great deal of this story trying to lead from the jail cell and believing that he knows better than anyone else.  It wasn’t easy to read this, but it was necessary to see his progression to respecting that Ettian might think and do differently, but he isn’t necessarily wrong.

The odd friendship formed up between Ettian, Gal, and the rascally former street ganger, Wen, continues forward.  Wen remains both their friend, even though she has taken a role in the Archon rebellion.  She latches on to the legend of the Archon Knights of old and takes the piratical commodore as her mentor in her Knight training.  She is also the security who keeps an eye on Gal so he works hard to influence her into helping him escape even while he works to keep Ettian from doing something stupid enough to die.  Meanwhile, Ettian never had the proper training to rule his people and is forced to learn on the fly.  His instincts are good even when his heart leads him to listen to Gal and he lets his feelings for Gal show and are a vulnerable spot for him.

As the middle book in a trilogy, Oaths of Legacy did the job of bringing the story along over the bridge to set up for the crisis point of the final book.  There were exciting action moments, political intrigue, and a stormy relationship.  It has a huge climax battle and then just when the reader starts to get complacent, a shocker twist happens.  Okay, I confess I was expecting something to happen to get people moved to where they are, but I didn’t expect a certain person to be the means.

So, we paused at a good place that leaves the reader anticipating the third part of the trilogy.  I still haven’t established if this is YA or Adult LGBT Sci-fi, but perhaps a bit of both.  Definitely a series I would recommend.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Bellantine, and Emily Skrutskie for the opportunity to read Oaths of Legacy in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second book in the Bloodright Trilogy and takes place about a month following the events of Bonds of Brass. If you have not read Bonds of Brass, this review will definitely contain spoilers regarding where things stand at the end of book one.

Gal is now Ettian's prisoner. Wen has become a bit of a knight, in her own right. At least Gal has a nice fancy place to remain prisoner. He knows Ettian still cares about him, but being the Archon prince means he cannot show certain feelings for a certain Umber heir.

After an attempt on Gal's life IN HIS CELL, Ettian has a plan, somewhat instigated by an idea that Gal plants. Ettian is going to the front, and Gal and Wen are coming with him.

A good portion of the novel takes place on a large space ship in which Ettian works his rounds with the ship commanders to attempt taking control of further planets for the Archon Empire. After an event at a planet where Ettian gives a speech and almost loses his life, Gal fights with conflict between his heart and his bloodright as Umber heir.

I don't want to give too much away for the plot, as this is a middle book and quite a bit of character development occurs. It's a bridge leading up to how the third and final book for the trilogy may progress and is an important set-up for how this story will end. I love the way this book is written. You can find it in the regular sci-fi/fantasy section of the book store, but it does read like a young adult book, though it's not considered to be in that genre. This is also a romance. While the romance scenes between Ettian and Gal are few and far between, those moments are very special and a significant driving force for the actions the characters take.

This is an excellent bridge to the finale, and I can't wait to see how this book ends! I recommend for fans of Star Wars and lovers of space odysseys.
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Great book. This is a sequel to Bonds of Brass, which I read to recommend as an LGBTQ+ leisure read to my students. I would also recommend the sequel. Great world-building and good character work.
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Gal and Ettian are back in the second installment of Emily Skrutskie's Bloodright Trilogy, and boy, are things just a wee bit complicated now. But I have to admit it was fun seeing all the relationship drama play out. What can I say? I love reading enemies-to-lovers romance. It's my thing. Add in a sci-fi element, and I'm all in.

So Oaths of Legacy picks up pretty close to where Bonds of Brass left off. I won't spoil the first book, but let's just say Gal wasn't in a good place and Ettian was in a slightly better one. Unlike the first book, however, Gal is the point-of-view character for book two, which was a little odd, but not unwelcome. It's a different strategy when it comes to writing YA sci-fi, and I'm intrigued to see who narrates book three now. 

While I was initially skeptical about the plot development Ettian had towards the end of the first book, I was 100% on board for it in this one. Ettian's new role made for some great romantic tension between two boys who just have no idea what the heck they're feeling and what the heck they're doing.

It had been a while since I read Bonds of Brass, so I had a little bit of trouble remembering some of the names and overall worldbuilding, but nothing was hard to pick up on once the book got going. However, I actually enjoyed Oaths of Legacy a lot more, simply because of the tension and Gal's internal and external dilemma in deciding where he stands in the war. I will say, though, that sometimes Gal got a little wishy-washy in his politicking and not a whole lot happened in terms of plot for him until the very end. There just wasn't a lot of action in general when compared to the first book. Did that stop me from wanting to know what was going to happen next? Nope. Those darn boys just kept pulling me back in.

All in all, Oaths of Legacy was a great second installment to a series that combines typical sci-fi elements like spaceship battles and robotic suits with the fantasy royalty tropes that are being devoured by readers right now. I'd highly suggest this story for anyone who likes Red Rising, Throne of Glass, The Kiss of Deception, The Winner's Curse, and the Star Wars franchise. It's just a fun time overall.

4 stars

*Note: I received a NetGalley ARC of this book to review from the publisher. This in no way affected my opinion/review.
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I must admit -- I didn't care for the first book.  It wasn't necessarily a bad book -- the writing is solid, the characters are intriguing, and the world is immersive.  It just... didn't hit the mark with me.

The sequel is much the same.  I really had to push myself to finish this one.  But, like the first, it's a solidly written story.
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