The Legacy and the Lion is the first book in the Yusan Chronicles, a military sci-fi story that holds a different atmosphere than most. It’s set in the future, but focuses on a primitive world of kings, horse-riding soldiers, murder plots, and power plays. It actually reads more like a history of an ancient world than a chronicle of a futuristic one.
In this setting, soldier Patrick seems to have no obvious connections after the death of his family. His introduction to a new post where political and social differences abound makes for an absorbing story of change, adaptation, different layers of political purpose, and angst.
Those who anticipate a post-apocalyptic tale should be advised that, in many ways, The Legacy and the Lion focuses on military and political maneuvering as it follows Patrick’s entry into the alien (to him) society of Yusay and its very different approaches to life. The usual trappings of a survival story or new society’s evolution are largely set aside in favor of this focus on Patrick’s adaptation process as he creates a life in the kingdom which is to be his new home.
It should also be noted that this is no light production. Elaine Jemmett takes the time to build her characters and the world in which they operate, resulting in a richer, fuller-bodied, less action-packed read than leisure readers usually receive.
These notes aside, The Legacy and the Lion is simply outstanding in its world-building approach and its strong characters and their individual concerns. The central protagonist Patrick, who faces a new job, a king’s commands, mysteries and plots, and the changing political atmosphere of a society under siege, brings all these pieces together.
As events move full circle into Patrick’s realizations about his own family ties, readers receive a satisfying, multifaceted story that is as much a mystery and political examination as it is the story of one man’s search for a new place and realizations in a futuristic world.
It’s especially highly recommended for readers who like multi-volume series reads steeped in social, political, and military encounters.