Crush the King by Jennifer Estep

Crush the King (Crown of Shards, #3)

by Jennifer Estep

A fierce gladiator queen must face off against her enemies in an epic battle in this next thrilling installment of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards series—an action-packed adventure full of magic, murderous machinations, courtly intrigue, and pulse-pounding romance.

Queen Everleigh Blair of Bellona has survived the mass murder of the royal family, become a fearsome warrior trained by an elite gladiator troupe, and unleashed her ability to destroy magic. After surviving yet another assassination attempt orchestrated by the conniving king of Morta, Evie has had enough. It’s time to turn the tables and take the fight to her enemies. 

There is no better opportunity to strike than during the Regalia Games, a time when warriors, nobles, and royals from all the kingdoms come together to compete in various sporting events. With the help of her loyal friends, Evie goes on the attack at the Regalia, but things don’t turn out the way she hopes. Soon, she is facing a terrifying new threat, and she will have to dig deep and learn even more about her growing magic if she has any chance of defeating her foes.

Because to secure her throne and ensure her kingdom’s survival, Evie must think like a true Bellonan: she must outsmart and outwit her enemies . . . and crush the king.

Reviewed by Beth C. on

5 of 5 stars

These days, with kids and work and and and - it's rare that I end up staying up past my bedtime to read a book. And when I do, it's because the book is just that engrossing *and* because I always vastly underestimate how long it will take me to finish whatever I'm reading. Such was the case here. I had to work this morning, bright and early. My daughter wanted to sleep with me last night, which meant going to bed early as well. But there I was, at 12:45, turning the last page on my Kindle - in the dark, under the covers, my daughter sleeping next to me and the thunder sounds she had requested rocking the room. Though admittedly, the thunder was a *fabulous* soundtrack for the latter half of the book.

In Crush the King, we find Evie (Queen Everleigh) still besieged by assassins, and it seems everywhere she turns, there are more. Finally deciding she's had enough of playing defense, she goes on the offense and brings the battle to Regalia Games (similar in spirit to the Olympics). When it all comes down to life or death, Evie is will to sacrifice everything in order to Crush the King.

It's a great continuation of the series, and Evie gets better and better as a character. She's not...static. She learns and adjusts and takes the hits sometimes too. The book's (no spoilers!) ending was *perfect*, though I will say that it leaves enough open that another book could theoretically be possible. My understanding is that this is a trilogy, however it's not unheard of for that to change if books are doing well.

Overall, if this IS the end - it's been a helluva ride. There's strength in physicality - but there's *also* strength in wits and honor. Queen Everleigh Blair demonstrates that playing the long game can devastate your opponent as much as beating them on a battlefield.

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