Published by HarperCollins on October 2, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic, Romantic, Action & Adventure
Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
I’ve been a fan of Estep’s Elemental Assassin series for years, so when I saw that she had a new fantasy series coming out, I was intrigued. While I read a lot of PNR/UF series, I hadn’t read much in the Fantasy genre so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into with the Crown of Shards series but I am happy to report that I was very pleasantly surprised.
Crown of Shards envelops the reader into a vivid world where politics and power are center stage. Being a member of a royal family isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be for Everleigh Blair. Her parents were assassinated, and after being shuffled in and out of various family member’s homes, she has found herself living at court where she’s discovered that anything and everything will be used against her. As a result she’s hidden not only her emotions but also her true powers from everyone.
I tremendously enjoyed watching Evie discover her own potential after so many years spent living in a shadow. It was easy to empathize with her desire to maintain the life she had built for herself when events around her were pushing her back into the world she desperately wanted out of. I will say that Evie came across as more of a teenager vs an adult well into their 20s. I’m not sure whether that was intentional and a way to reflect the impact of the life that she had lived or whether that was just my interpretation but it took some mental gymnastics for me to reset. As a romance reader, I would have loved to have loved it if there would have been more romance in this book. At one point I thought the relationship with Sullivan and Evie was finally going to turn the corner and give me something to swoon over, but alas I have to wait with my fingers crossed for future books.
Kill the Queen is a wonderful read full of characters and powers that will leave readers counting down the days until another installment in the Crown of Shards series is available.