Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Kill the Queen (Crown of Shards, #1)

by Jennifer Estep

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.

Reviewed by Quirky Cat on

4 of 5 stars

Kill the Queen is the first novel in Jennifer Estep’s latest series, Crown of Shards. It’s a fantasy series full of politics, plotting, revenge, and so much more. Fans new and old are well within reason for wanting to check it out.

Lady Everleigh, aka Evie, is seventeenth in line for the throne. Between that and her passive form of magic, she’s gotten used to being shunted to the side. In many ways, Evie is little more than the family errand runner. But she’s still royalty, and that comes with a certain amount of responsibility.

Magic is power. But power also corrupts, a fact that will become clear thanks to a series of events that are about to unfold. One greedy princess – the heir to the throne – has a plot in mind, one which will shake her kingdom and ruin her family.

“My position, magic, and wealth might be insignificant – more like nonexistent – compared to others’, but I was still a Blair, still a member of the royal family, and I have been the target of more than one scheme.”

Kill the Queen was a fun and quick read. Though it may be more accurate to say that this is a book you’re not going to want to put down. I certainly didn’t, and instead insisted on reading through it as quickly as possible.

The world that Jennifer Estep has created here is a fascinating one. It’s a world of magic and politics, and sometimes when those elements combine there will be disastrous results. Given the events in this novel, that’s a fair statement. I can also understand the comparison to Game of Thrones now. Though I’d argue that this series can stand alone without needing to make that (or any other) comparison.

I’ll confess a little bit of bias here. I adored Evie’s power. Not the dramatically revealed one, but her ‘basic’ one. I’m referring to her enhanced sense of smell. I grew up with an absurdly strong sense of smell, something I was even teased by. So I was always thrilled to see characters with it – even if theirs was granted by magic, and took it to an extreme I could never dream of. But I have always wished that it would be portrayed more – ideally by showing all of the ways where enhanced sense could be useful (and even lifesaving).

I absolutely adored all of the politics, backstabbing, and plotting that occurred in this novel. I have so many questions, and honestly can’t wait to see more of the kingdoms that were constantly referenced in these pages. I should probably consider myself lucky that I can move right on to the next novel in the series (Protect the Prince), as I’m not feeling terribly patient.

Evie’s whole story is compelling, sometimes dipping down into something shockingly intense and emotional. It made for a brilliant read, and I’m truly looking forward to the rest of the series because of it. I just hope she stays on as the main character, because she has quickly become my favorite.

I can’t believe it took me this long to sit down and read Kill the Queen, though I am glad to have done so now. I think I’m going to have to put aside some time in the next week to read Protect the Prince, because I’m officially hooked. I’m also pretty lucky in my timing, because the third novel is due out soon as well.

Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 22 February, 2020: Finished reading
  • 22 February, 2020: Reviewed