It’s always good to read an excellent book, but if you are like me, you both anticipate and dread the sequel. Protect the Prince is the second book in the Crown of Shards series by Jennifer Estep. No spoilers, but I can promise that the sequel is just as good as the original! Protect the Prince is an amazing rollercoaster of adventure and intrique!
The book drops on July 2nd, and I cannot be more excited to see other people’s reactions. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:
Magic, murder, adventure, and romance combine in this second novel in the exciting Crown of Shards saga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep.
Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.
First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.
Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.
But dark forces are at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, Evie’s immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes her wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.
But Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s . . . well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.
Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…
There is so much to cover here; assassins from Morta (a rival country) led by the deadly Maeven, the two Andvari princes – Lucas the illegitimate versus Dominic the legitimate, plots and courtly intrigue.
Throughout the book, you see slices of Evie’s old life as the Mutt-magicked royal stand in inform her new life. From Evie’s love of good food, her reliance on her enhanced sense of smell, and to her remembrances of both slights and kindnesses, we see her grow. There are new characters and old ones; each with their own rich backstories begging for books of their own.
The most moving theme in my mind is Evie’s near constant struggle with Imposter Syndrome. She is the Queen, but she was never raised to it and while she wants what is best for her country and people, she struggles with how to make it happen. What does it mean to be a Winter Queen? And what does she need to sacrifice to stay alive?
Title: Protect the Prince
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Crown of Shards #2
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Released: July 2, 2019
About the Author:
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author who prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. In addition to Kill the Queen, Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Black Blade, and Bigtime series.
It’s nearly Halloween and when I was asked if I was interested in participating in another Blog Tour, this time about a series with Monster Hunting brothers, I jumped on it! I hadn’t read any of Gail Z. Martin’s books before, and the premise of her Darkhurst series sounded interesting.
Time for a disclaimer; I’m given things (books, puzzles, coloring books) to review. The companies would like a good or glowing review, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Book reviews are especially tricky, as each reader experiences a book differently. Sadly, I did not enjoy reading either Scourge or Vengeance. Let me break it down for you, but remember, this is just my opinion, and your mileage may vary!
A Darkhurst Novel
In a city beset by monsters, three brothers must find out who is controlling the abominations.The city-state of Ravenwood is wealthy, powerful, and corrupt. Merchant Princes and Guild Masters wager fortunes to outmaneuver League rivals for the king’s favor and advantageous trading terms. Lord Mayor Ellor Machison wields assassins, blood witches, and forbidden magic to assure that his powerful patrons get what they want, no matter the cost.Corran, Rigan, and Kell Valmonde are Guild Undertakers, left to run their family’s business when guards murdered their father and monsters killed their mother. Their grave magic enables them to help souls pass to the After and banish vengeful spirits. Rigan’s magic is unusually strong and enables him to hear the confessions of the dead, the secrets that would otherwise be taken to the grave.When the toll exacted by monsters and brutal guards hits close to home and ghosts expose the hidden sins of powerful men, Corran, Rigan and Kell become targets in a deadly game and face a choice: obey the Guild, or fight back and risk everything.
It sounds great, right? However, I found that of the 550 some-odd pages, over 300 were repetitive world building that only barely advanced the plot. I read epic fantasy to escape the fact that our world currently is being run by oligarchs who think nothing of sacrificing those that do not directly bring them profits. I found myself gloriously depressed reading Scourge, as to me, it paralleled reality a little too closely for comfort. That and I found the seemingly endless cycle of battling mindless monsters and Rigan(the mage-brother) nearly draining himself to death reminded me of a roleplaying campaign I played in college. Honestly, if you like a good dungeon-crawl rpg or reading George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan, you might enjoy this book.
Vengeance (Winner of the Manly Wade Wellman Award!)
A Darkhurst Novel (Book 2)
Fighting the monsters that killed their family and friends cost undertaker brothers Corran and Rigan Valmonde their home and livelihood and made them wanted men—but the worst is yet to come.
The city-state of Ravenwood is wealthy, powerful, and corrupt. Merchant Princes and Guild Masters wager fortunes to outmaneuver League rivals for the king’s favor and the best trading terms. Ambitious and ruthless leaders use betrayal and assassination to gain their ends. Blood magic conjures monsters to further the goals of the ruling class, and the price of stolen power is paid for by the deaths of commoners. Now, the fate of Ravenwood hangs in the balance as rival city-states maneuver to gain advantage.
When Corran and Rigan and their friends became outlaw monster hunters and fled beyond the walls of Ravenwood City, they thought they had defeated the source of the abominations that killed so many of their friends and loved ones. But the more successful they become at destroying the creatures, the more they realize a greater evil is at work – larger and more monstrous than they ever could imagine…
I’ll admit to liking Vengeance a bit better than Scourge. The characters have personality and verve. The dialogue isn’t as stilted and while the monster hunts are still ongoing, the monsters are more interesting and dangerous. The world has expanded somewhat with the characters now being outlaws, but the rules and overall villainy remains. There appears to be a third book in the series, but it has not yet been announced.
While I didn’t enjoy this particular series, I am interested in the steampunk one she wrote with her husband, Larry N Martin. Every author deserves a second chance, as each series and book is different. Give the Darkhurst series a try, you might like it. My opinion is just that, mine. Yours may be different, and that’s why our world is full of amazing books.
Win a Kindle copy of both Scourge and Vengeance! Contest runs October 15th thru the 29th. Rafflecopter code is below:
Gail Z. Martin is the author of Scourge: A Darkhurst Novel, from Solaris Books. Gail is also the author of Vendetta: ADeadly Curiosities Novel and Trifles and Folly 1: A Deadly Curiosities Collection, the latest in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC; Shadow and Flame is the fourth book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga; The Shadowed Path (The first Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures collection), as well as Iron and Blood a Steampunk series, and Spells, Salt, & Steel, both co-authored with Larry N. Martin.
She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities and Tangled Web. Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures,The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.
Gail’s work has appeared in over 35 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Heroes, Space, Contact Light, With Great Power, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Cinched: Imagination Unbound, Realms of Imagination, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, Gaslight and Grimm, Baker Street Irregulars, Journeys, Hath no Fury and A Haven Harbor Halloween.