I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss. I am providing this review voluntarily.
Crush the King by Jennifer Estep is the upcoming third book in the Crown of Shards series, and is due to be released on March 17, 2020.
Everleigh Blair was the only survivor of the massacre of her royal family, became a gladiator in an elite troupe, and has been training to strengthen her ability to destroy magic. After living through yet another assassination plot coordinated by the king of Morta and executed by his bastard brigade, Evie is ready to do something about it. Rather than wait for them to come to her, she decides to bring the fight to them.
She has the perfect opportunity as the Regalia Games approach — a time when royals, nobles, and warriors from all the kingdoms meet to compete in various sporting events. With her loyal friends at her back, Evie develops a plan of attack, but things don’t go as planned. Rather than celebrating her success, she’s dealing with a horrifying new threat, and she is forced to learn more about her magical ability if she has a chance of coming out on top.
In order to keep her throne and ensure the safety and survival of Bellona, she must think smarter and crush the king.
In previous books, Estep has depicted Bellona, Andvari, and Unger, which are all uniquely beautiful and interesting. In this book, we learn about the secretive kingdom of Morta, as well as Fortuna Island, where the Regalia Games are held. This book expands the world-building of earlier works, and exposes us to Fortuna Island as well as giving us a little bit of a look into the secretive Mortan kingdom. We get a real look at more magical creatures aside from the gargoyles of Andvari, and they’re incredible. There’s still a heavy Roman influence on the setting, with gladiators playing a big role in the story.
Evie continues to struggle with not feeling like a queen, but rather as though she stumbled into the position by default even though she won her title fairly. As she moves through the story, she comes into her own as not only a ruler, but also as a wielder of magic. She learns to fall back on her own moral compass and do what feels right in her heart, rather than what she thinks she has to do to win. It was really interesting to learn more about Evie’s past, as all the pieces of her story fall into place.
Lucas doesn’t play into the story as prominently as I’d have liked, since he’s one of my favorite characters. After the events in Protect the Prince, he’s officially Evie’s consort though. The two of them deserve a happily ever after considering everything they’ve been through.
The story was told with the usual flair and I was quickly immersed in the story of Evie's quest to avenge the death of her family, as well as to repay the king who has been behind the assassination attempts that have plagued her since claiming her throne.
Despite the non-stop action, I was still captivated by the beautiful prose that made me feel as if I was standing next to Evie. The author's ability to work alliteration into the story seamlessly was not lost on me either, even as I was drawn into the fantasy world that she created.
While it’s my understanding that this is a trilogy, the ending didn’t neatly tie up all the loose ends. This leaves me hopeful that this isn’t really the end for this series, and that there could be at least one more book, or even a spin-off series to follow. Fingers crossed!
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn't an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 20
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5