Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep

Magic, murder, adventure, and romance combine in this second novel in the exciting Crown of Shards saga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep.

Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.

First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.

Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.

Dark forces are also at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, her immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes Evie wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.

Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s… well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.

Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…

Add to Goodreads –

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

5 Political Intrigue Stars

Protect the Prince is the second installment in the Crown of Shards series, which cannot be read independently as a standalone. A true continuation of the previous installment, there would be nothing but confusion for the reader.

When it comes to the fantasy genre, usually when I find the debut crazy good, the second in the series is so-so. On the flip side, when I find the debut so-so, I always read the second in the series, because usually that book hits it out of the park. That is never the case with Jennifer Estep. Kill the Queen was amazing, and Protect the Prince was equally amazing. I'm almost jealous of new readers being able to read both books back to back, experiencing the journey with fresh eyes.

There's nothing like being emotionally invested in the characters, experiencing the gut-punches, the heart-wrenching moments, as if they are happening to me. It's an addictive experience that can rarely be achieved.

Protect the Prince takes place approximately three months after Evie has been crowned the Winter Queen. She's struggling with the weight of the crown, which feels heavier because she doesn't truly believe she is in her rightful place. All those harsh words as she grew up in court, those words infect her self-confidence, but Evie is the ultimate heroine. She doesn't allow her insecurities to rule her, not when she herself has to rule an entire kingdom, when not only is her life on the line, but all those she rules.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Protect the Prince is separated into three sections, each assassination attempts. Political intrigue and maneuvering are the main focus of the novel, the frustration and desire to learn more making me flick the pages at a rapid rate.

Evie struggles with who to trust, who to befriend, who to align, who to love. All the while she experiences dream flashbacks of the night her parents died, which set her on the course she's now journeying.

In Kill the Queen, Evie was learning what her powers meant in the long run. During Protect the Prince, Evie discovers there is more to being a magical null in a world filled with magic users, which feeds into what it means to be the Winter Queen.

At the end of the novel, I wanted more. The next book immediately. Since I don't have that book, my appetite has been whetted for the fantasy genre. It's the mark of an amazing storyteller when they spark your love of reading, turning you voracious for more.

This series is already an all-time favourite. This second book starts as Evie begins her reign as Winter Queen – a title she grows into and a role she quickly owns. I feel like all the fragments of Evie’s identity come together in this second book. We see the orphan, the gladiator, and the political outsider – but in this book, Evie has to use all of her identities, all of strengths, and all of her friendships to save herself and her kingdom.

I love that this series feels very fresh and original. The author draws on classic fantasy tropes but much of the dialogue and some of the settings feel contemporary. We’ve recently seen strong female queens in Game of Thrones, but this series pushes the concept further. Evie isn’t a female leader by fate, marriage, or chance, she is the latest queen in an established matriarchy. In these books, female power is expected and unquestioned – leaving so much room for fabulously complicated character and relationship development. In the wider world of fantasy writing, this is miles away from Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse constantly having to prove their ability to lead men and it’s even a step forward from the complicated relationships Estep’s own Gin Blanco has with the men in her life. Evie doesn’t feel guilt or shame, she survives and she protects. She doesn’t apologise for ruthless decisions.

Evie’s friends and allies are even more fabulous in this second book. Evie is still surrounded by her slightly unusual gladiator family and they are joined by loyal courtiers and servants. Like the first book, there is a tiny bit of romance here. Romance fans will probably be disappointed by just how little romance we get but I really loved watching Evie make ruthless decisions at the expense of a potential romance. As queen, Evie has to put her kingdom first, her own survival second and she refuses to compromise.

The book starts with courtly politics and I was slightly worried that we’d lose some of the warrior Evie I loved in the first book. However, this is an action-packed adventure and the focus of the story is Evie’s evasion of a series of assassination attempts. We get all the blood and gore I hoped for alongside some fabulous magical warfare. If this book is a little light on romance, it’s very heavy on action and suspense. It’s a long book but I read it in a single sitting and I can’t remember reading anything quite so fast in a long time. I loved this story and I can’t wait for the next one.

Also Available in the Crown of Shards Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Kill the Queen Blog Tour.

JENNIFER ESTEP is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

She is the author of the following series:
The Elemental Assassin Series
The Crown of Shards Series
The Mythos Academy Spinoff Series
The Mythos Academy Series
The Bigtime Series
The Black Blade Series

Connect with Jennifer

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Protect the Prince (Crown of Shards #2) by Jennifer Estep to read and review.

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