Friday, October 26, 2018

Review: Kill the Queen

Author Jennifer Estep 
Format e-book 
Print Length 480 pages 
Publisher Harper Voyager 
Published Oct. 2, 2018

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. 

My Opinion 

I have read all of Jennifer Estep’s young adult novels so when it was announced that this one would be published I immediately knew it would be one of my most anticipated read of this year. Kill the Queen is the first book in a trilogy so there is a lot of world building. The world building enhanced the plot instead of taking away from it- at times the reader doesn’t even realize that what is being added is more world building. 

As an orphan there was not a lot of options for Evie growing up- she was a royal without a family of her own. The queen took her in, trained her as a royal but used her for mundane ceremonial task. Since she had no powers, she was disregarded by those around her without giving her a second thought. She was a nonthreat. When a major assassination occurs it leaves Evie as the sole survivor of her family line. Thought dead, she hides in plain sight as a gladiator in training. Will she be able to defeat her cousin? Does she even want to? 

Evie grows a lot in this book, much due to the events that occur in the first few chapters. Watching her go from a meek child to a strong confident adult was an experience. She was always determined to do her assigned roles to the best of her abilities. Now that is combined with her rage at what her cousin has done as well as what her cousin is doing to her country. I enjoyed her growth and it is always interesting to see a character come full circle. The book is written in three parts which correlate with the growth of the main character. 

Secondary characters help to push this book from good to great. The gladiators, mentors, friends, and villains all bring the story together in a beautiful package. Vasilia as a villain is fabulous! She is wicked, evil and unapologetic about it. She takes what she deems is her. She is entitled, spoiled and a brat. She wears the crown well. When the assassination occurred I had goose bumps it was so good. It also kick started the story into full force which was nice. Yes, we know it is coming but dang it was brutal. 

Jennifer Estep’s new epic fantasy can be read at a fast neck-breaking pace or a slow savory one. Or you could read it fast the first time and then do a slow re-read. The world building is detailed without being tedious, allowing the reader to imagine all the places mentioned from the castle to the arena. The secondary characters are not in the background, instead they are front and center which is refreshing. The romance a slow burn which is great for those of us who are not always looking for insta-love. Most importantly the plot captivates you to the point where if you have to put the book down, you end up wondering what Evie and the gang are up to. I for one cannot wait until Protect the Prince comes out in July of 2019. 

My Rating 5 out of 5 stars 

Favorite Quote “First your parents, and now me. You’re surprisingly good at surviving assassinations.” 

Other People 

Vasilia- Evie’s cousin 
Sullivan- powerful magier 
Serilda- gladiator, former queen’s guard 
Paloma- Ogre gladiator 
Alvis- Evie’s mentor

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