Crush the King by Jennifer Estep
Series: Crown of Shards #3
Also in this series: Kill the Queen, Protect the Prince
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler » No (Continuing Story-Arc) « Hide Spoiler
Content Warning: View Spoiler » Violence, Gore, Death « Hide Spoiler
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Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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A fierce gladiator queen must face off against her enemies in an epic battle in this next thrilling installment of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards series—an action-packed adventure full of magic, murderous machinations, courtly intrigue, and pulse-pounding romance.
Queen Everleigh Blair of Bellona has survived the mass murder of the royal family, become a fearsome warrior trained by an elite gladiator troupe, and unleashed her ability to destroy magic. After surviving yet another assassination attempt orchestrated by the conniving king of Morta, Evie has had enough. It’s time to turn the tables and take the fight to her enemies.
There is no better opportunity to strike than during the Regalia Games, a time when warriors, nobles, and royals from all the kingdoms come together to compete in various sporting events. With the help of her loyal friends, Evie goes on the attack at the Regalia, but things don’t turn out the way she hopes. Soon, she is facing a terrifying new threat, and she will have to dig deep and learn even more about her growing magic if she has any chance of defeating her foes.
Because to secure her throne and ensure her kingdom’s survival, Evie must think like a true Bellonan: she must outsmart and outwit her enemies . . . and crush the king.
In the previous book, Protect the Prince, Everleigh secured her crown as Queen of Bellona by securing a treaty with the Andvari. But she knows this isn’t enough. She can’t become complacent and that fact is immediately brought home by another assassination attempt. This time from a different foe, but the one pulling the strings is the Mortan King. Evie is sick of always being on the defense so she decides she’ll go on the offense at the upcoming Regalia Games.
Ames: All right. June was a weird reading month for us so unfortunately we lost Wena for this review.
Holly, what did you think of Crush the King?
Holly: I really like the world Estep has created. The court intrigue and games interested me, and I definitely admire Evie’s strength. I didn’t like how isolated Evie seemed, even amidst her friends from the Troupe. I was also very disappointed in the romance. You?
Ames: I agree, she came across as very isolated from her people and the romance was definitely on the back-burner. I feel like Sullivan could have had a bigger role without undermining her. All her people were in the backseat.
Holly: One of the things I loved best in the first book was the way her relationship with Sully developed and how her friendships with those in the Black Swan troupe grew and deepened. I feel like we saw less and less of them as the series wore on. By the end of this book, I felt like they added nothing to the story, other than some background noise. I wish we’d see more of them growing as a “family”, which is what it felt like they were becoming in the first book.
Ames: Ok, I liked the world Estep created, but I found the world-building in this book hard to get through. The introduction of the Games and Fortuna just dragged on for me. But once the action started I enjoyed the story more. I love the court games she played with Maximus – not showing her fear, one-upping him any chance she could, thwarting his plans. I like that she had learned enough and was confident enough with herself to pull all that off. The overall arch of her own scheme was very well-done.
Holly: You’re not wrong about the early part of the book being hard to get through. I also didn’t love how she decided she was going to handle the King of Morta at first. I liked how she came to accept that her initial plan wasn’t the best one and went with something that worked better for the person she wanted to be.
Ames: I like how she changed her plan for dealing with the King as well. It played to her strength – she observes and she learns and then she adapts. She doesn’t act until she looks at a problem from all sides.
But once the action started with the games, I enjoyed the story more. I also liked those flashbacks for how she got away after the assassination of her family, when she was a child.
Holly: I enjoyed the story more once the action picked up, too. The flashbacks were great and gave us a lot of insight into how and why she did what she did. I enjoyed that aspect of it.
Ames : Do you think she’s going to write more in this world? I liked the introduction of Leo and how he’s torn by loyalty to his family.
Holly: I swear I remember seeing mention of more from this world, but I can’t remember where I read it. I hope she does. I’d like to see more from Gemma, too.
Ames: I’d love to see Gemma again. And Grimley.
Holly: GRIMLEY! I need a Grimley in my life.
Ames: Ok, what are you grading this book? I have to give it a 3 out of 5. Although I was pleased with Evie’s long game plan when it came to Maeven and how she set out to get the King of Morta, the beginning was hard to get into and I was disappointed in how the secondary characters were side-lined.
Holly: I think I’m going to give it a 3.5 out of 5. I really liked Evie’s strength and the games, but it moved slow in the beginning and I definitely didn’t like how little we saw of the secondary characters. I do hope she continues to write in this world, though.
Ames: 3 out of 5
Holly: 3.5 out of 5