Kill the Queen - Crown of Shards, Book 1

  • Posted on: 18 December 2020
  • By: Sevhina

Evie is a an orphan who grew up in the palace as a poor relation of Queen Cordelia. It might have been different if she could boast of powerful magic but all she has is one of the mutt magics, in her case a magically keen sense of smell. She wanted to boast of her secret immunity to magic but as she grew up she realized her parents were right and that it would be dangerous to say anything about it. So she spent her time performing whatever tasks none of the other royals want to do until the day Crown Princess Vasilia decided to take the throne for herself leaving alive no one to challenge her claim. Saved by her immunity, and assumed dead by her cousin, Evie finds herself in the gladiator troupe owned by Queen Cordelia's former bodyguard, Serilda. Uncertain if she can trust Serilda, Evie is determined to gain the skills that would allow her to get vengeance on her cousin who is a master with the sword. But the Black Swan gladiator troupe has just as many rivalries and secrets as the palace did.

Evie likes life among the gladiators. The founding Queen of Bellonna was a famous gladiator so they are extremely popular and their shows are more like a circus than simple blood sports. The Evie who worked hard to remain unnoticed to avoid courtly plotting died along with the court. Although she really only stands out now for baking delicious pies, a complete lack of skill with weapons, and for needling the troupe enforcer. She wants to trust Serilda and her new friends but is determined that she won't be a simple pawn again. But it seems the new Queen has far reaching plans that involve framing a neighboring nation for wiping out the royals. As it becomes increasingly obvious that Vasilia will be just as cruel a queen as she was a princess and plans to drag their people into a pointless war Evie is conflicted between living her own life and trusting her new friends to help her kill the queen.

Kill the Queen is a well crafted fantasy with plenty of magic, evil plots, and cryptic dying words. Although not as graphic as books like Game of Thrones there is plenty of violence. There are four major types of magic, Magiers who are masters of elements like Vasilia's lightning, Morphs that shift into another form like ogres, Masters who craft things with exceptional skill, and mutts with one or two smaller magics like enhanced speed or smell. The character building is somewhat thin as Evie's friends are all likable and Vasilia's allies are all despicable villains. At least as the first in a trilogy there is plenty of room to grow. Luckily there isn't a cliffhanger ending so it works just as well as a complete story on its own.

On Audible the narrator Lauren Fortgang has good reviews and has done some other fantasy work. Jennifer Estep is best known for the Elemental Assassin series.