Crush the King by Jennifer Estep
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the third book in the Crown of Shards trilogy, the story of Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair, the only royal of the kingdom of Bellona left standing after a massacre. In the first book, Evie gains the throne; in the second; she learns how hard it is to keep in the midst of dealing with court politics and backstabbing nobles; and in this final volume, she finally exacts her revenge on one of the villains who murdered her family.
This sounds like an exciting storyline, but unfortunately, this book...really isn't. I thought about why it disappointed me for a while, and eventually came to the conclusion that in this book, especially compared to the first two, the characterization suffers. This is a more plot-heavy book--probably a necessity to tie up all the threads--but the characters feel shallow and underdeveloped as a result. (Particularly short-shrifted is Evie's lover, the bastard prince Lucas Sullivan, who comes off as bland and uncompelling and fading into the background. And what's the deal with Serilda, the leader of the Black Swan gladiator troupe, and Cho, the dragon morph? Those two deserve a book of their own.)
The villain, King Maximus of the neighboring kingdom of Morta, is little more than a cartoon caricature (but the author has always had difficulty fleshing out her villains) with no motivation beyond invade/conquer/murder. Which, granted, may be adequate, but given the amount of time he spent center stage, I expected something a little deeper. There was also an extended flashback to when a twelve-year-old Evie's family was murdered that I couldn't really figure out the reason for. It seemed superfluous, especially with the number of pages it took up.
In fact, the most interesting parts of this book were the magical animals: the Mortan strixes, giant warrior birds similar to gryphons their soldiers ride into battle, and the tiny owl-like caladrius. Both animals seemed to have a humanlike intelligence. I would have loved more time spent on them.
All in all, this book was rather meh and disappointing. Too bad.
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