Sunday 19 May 2019

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Blog Tour Review: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand (#Ad)

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

I was sent this proof for free by Sourcebooks Fire via Midas PR for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

Published: 21st May 2019 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Claire Legrand's Website

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength—and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity's long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana's power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother's power, or rejecting it forever.
From Goodreads.

My other reviews of the Empirium Trilogy:
Furyborn (#Ad)

WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.

Trigger/Content Warnings: This book features gory descriptions, a panic attack, someone being drugged against their will, kidnap, murder, some explicit sex, sexual assault, and abusive manipulation (possibly grooming).

It wasn't that long ago that I finished reading Furyborn, and despite only having a few months to wait, I loved it so much, the wait for book two seemed unbearable! But fortunately I was asked to take part in the UK blog tour for Kingsbane by Claire Legrand, and got to read that little bit early. And oh my god, was it worth the wait!

Furyborn ended on such a cliffhanger! However, my memory was a little fuzzy on the details, and Kingsbane doesn't give much in the way of a recap as you're reading. So I did find myself a little confused over who certain people were, and remembering all the details of the ending of Furyborn, so you may wish to check out the recap for it over on Book Series Recaps and Reviews. Kingsbane starts off a month or so after the beginning. While Rielle is touring the kingdom along with Prince Audric and Ludivine, being greeted by the people as their Sun Queen and swearing to protect them all, Audric receives a letter from neighbouring kingdom Borsvall that there is an emergency only Rielle can save them from. Running off to save them on Atheria, Rielle's Godbeast, leads to Rielle discovering just how badly damaged the Gate that is holding most of the angels in the Deep. Through the guardians of the Gate, the Obex, she discovers that there's only one way to possibly repair the Gate, and that's by her using the castings of the Saints who first created the Gate, which are hidden throughout the world.

Eliana is in Astavar, struggling to come to terms with who and what she is. The daughter of the woman who destroyed everything, who doomed the world. Supposedly the Sun Queen, who is meant to save it. With powers that are unpredictable and difficult to control. And Princess Navi - who was abducted by the Emperor's adatrox, who had started the process of making her into a Crawler before she was rescued - is getting worse by the day. Zahra, the angel wraith who now serves Eliana, tells her there's only one possible way to save her, but it will be dangerous, and she will only help her do so if she learns to control her power.

Kingsbane is exciting and thrilling, and oh my god, so much happens! What I've shared above is the very bare bones of this story, and there's so much that would be incredibly easy to spoil. Although we still have alternate chapters told from both Rielle and Eliana's perspective (with a few chapters from others' perspectives thrown in, too, which were just so awesome), there's more that happens in the first half, overall, in regards to Rielle's story, where Eliana slowly picks up as the story progresses, and they both end in spectacular climaxes!

What I loved most about this book is the character development. Where as I was fond of Rielle in Furyborn - if often exasperated by her choices - I really didn't like her in this book, but in the best possible way. As the story progresses, you can almost see Rielle slowly becoming the Blood Queen. It's like you can see all the paths laid out before her, but how everything she does is a step further down the path to becoming the Blood Queen: every time she acts, every decision she makes, every lie she tells, who she chooses to listen to, who she believes. And all of this is influenced by how Rielle has a hugely inflated opinion of herself, and thinks of everyone else as lesser than her. She's very self-involved and arrogant. She's disdainful of people who think less of her, and has a kind of "Do they not know who I am?" attitude. She's haughty, vain, and full of her own importance. In Kingsbane, Rielle very much reminded me of fairy tale villains in their origin stories. You can see the seeds begin to take root, and know she will bloom into someone cold, calculated and heartless.

But there are moments - small, little moments - when I really felt for Rielle. There's so much pressure on her to be who the people expect, this duty she must perform, how she must bend herself into what the world needs of her. Before everyone knew about her powers, she had to be careful, sure, but she could still be Rielle. But now she must be the Sun Queen. Rielle doesn't matter, the Sun Queen does. And she's also, in some ways, insecure. She worries about what Audric would think of her regarding his father's death, and the truth of other events that take place throughout the Kingsbane that she hides from him. She's not 100% sure of his love. And Corien takes advantage of that. He constantly feeds those fears and worries, while telling her everything she wants to hear, constantly flattering her, waxing lyrcial about how powerful she is and all she can do, and how she is better than everyone else. How she'll always be shackled by her people; how they will be afraid of how powerful she is, and how they'll want to control her. But he's not afraid of her, he doesn't want to control of her, he just wants to let her shine. I don't know enough to be sure, but it kind of felt like grooming? It's at the very least abusive, the way he manipulates her, and tries to get her to do what he wants.

At times, I did think, how much of what happens can actually be blamed on her, really? There is a prophecy after all. Although I don't like her, and she does do some despicable things, does she really have a choice? I ended up going with yes. Because some of her decisions, man. Things didn't need to happen the way they did, and it's all down to her. She may have Corien in her head, but he's not there constantly, and he can't force her to do anything. Some choices she makes without any input from him, and she does some terrible things.

Eliana on the other hand is almost the complete opposite. As the Dread of Orline, she was strong and confident. She was skilled with a blade, healed unnaturally quickly, knew herself and what she wanted, even if that meant she put herself before others. Now? Her confidence and her strength have all but vanished. She is really, really struggling with who she is. She's heard all the stories about the Blood Queen, she knows what the world is like now under the rule of the Emperor because of the Blood Queen. And she's her daughter? And has her power? How can anyone believe she is the Sun Queen, when her mother was the most evil woman to have ever existed? How can anyone want her to use that power, when it caused so much damage in the hands of the Blood Queen? She wishes she didn't have it, doesn't want to use it, is scared of what she could do, or who she might become - hasn't enough damage been done already?! But she is literally the only hope their world has - and potentially others. Can she simply refuse to try, and let the Emperor continue to cause such suffering?

And then there are the twists! Oh my god, the twists! I'm not going to give anything away except to say it relates to time, and oh my god, these kinds of things blow my mind. Completely! There are unforeseen moments of heartbreak, moments of betrayal, and huge jaw-dropping twists that punched me in the gut. I mean, man! How?! HOW?! I need an explanation now! I mean, I think I know, but I need an actual explanation, and I need to know how things are going to fixed and resolved, because, What. The. HELL?! Mate, it's bloody incredible, and I am desperate for people to read it, so I have someone I can share my shock with!

One of the other things I really like about this trilogy, which I didn't mention in my review of the first book, is the sex in these books. There are some explicit sex scenes, and yes, they may occasionally be a little cliché, but do you know what else they are? They are consensual. Consent is given and asked for multiple times throughout. There is a focus on women's pleasure; the men in this book take pleasure in pleasing the women they are having sex with. There is respect. These are (mostly) teenagers enjoying sex. And sure this might make these books "older YA", but I don't think that makes them unsuitable. Teenagers aren't stupid, and they won't read what they're not ready for. But if they are ready, I think the sex scenes in these books are the kind they should read. With 65% of 15-16-year-olds and 28% of 11-12-year-olds watching porn, which tends to be violent, disrespectful of women, and without consent, I think books like Furyborn and Kingsbane are better alternatives.

Kingsbane is absolutely incredible! It's an explosive and addictive sequel to Furyborn, and now I am absolutely dying to read the third and final book in the Empirium series, and don't know how I'm going to wait a whole year! If you loved Furyborn, you do not want to miss out on this one!

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for the proof.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the Kingsbane Blog Tour!

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand Blog Tour Banner

You might also like:

Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Over to you graphic
What do you think of character development wher you grow to dislike a character? What do you think of explicit sex in YA? Are you excited for Kingsbane? Have you read it already? (If you have, DM ME ON TWITTER, because we need to discuss!) Let me know in the comments!

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