Cover Image: Crush the King

Crush the King

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Member Reviews

Mild spoilers ahead

I was excited for the finale after series, crush the king, but unfortunately I didn't quite meet some big expectations. While the writing is still great and kept me reading, a lot of plot points were just thrown away in the middle.

For 1, Sullivan just became a side piece; a trophy consort, call it whatever you like, but the fun relationship he and Evie had in prior books was completely gone.

All the characters and their side stories took a back and to Evie and, just Evie really. All that development was a shame.

Don't even get me started on the alliances Evie carefully spent the first half planning and gaining. Because they had ABSOLUTELY NO relevancy to the end plot. They literally played no role. Nada. None, zilch.

Loose ends are not tied up. We never find out the reason why Cho and Serilda don't act on their blatant and obvious love for each other, or see paloma get her happy ending when her past catches up with her.

Finally, I know I've said in the prior two books that it doesn't bother me, but the predictable plot was incredible frustrating due to the other clear flaws.

Also, I am still not sure what it means to be winter queen. I am even more confused what with Maximus talking about "the legends being true" at the end.

The only thing that can save this book is probably a spin off that accounts for many MANY unresolved plots.

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Crush the King 

4 stars 

I could not put this one down. Overall I absolutely loved Evie’s development from the beginning of the series and even more so in Crush the King. This final installment was very action packed with never a dull moment and overall entertaining all around. 

I think Estep does a great job of mixing in a lot of entertaining elements into a fantasy that makes for a really compelling and well designed story. 

I also thought Estep did an amazing job of concluding the Crown of Shards series while also leaving room for more in the world and I for one would love to see more. I can’t wait to see what else this author writes!
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Epic fantasy, beauty and fantastic story telling makes this a wonderful read! Romantic, beautiful and sexy fun. Great book!
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I was very excited to have received this book for review from the publisher, and this is a fantastic final book to the trilogy.

Queen Evie has been playing the long game with the King's sister, a sister who he doesn't acknowledge and isn't even really considered a royal because she is a bastard. The conclusion to this long game, is one I saw as a possibility and I think Evie even mentions it a few times in the books, but the way it played out was, mwah, fantisimo!

I love Jennifer's ability to tell stories. Her writing keeps things simple, but also keeps you engaged in the story and carry you along. I always felt this connection to Evie, and wanting her to survive and win her challenges.

Evie is still continuing to grow her magic a bit in this final story. There is one challenge she faces, even knowing she'll get through it, because she's the main character, I was worried for how she would get through and how her friends would fare. All her friends were in danger, and I was really there with her as she strained her magic to go even further than it's gone, to do what she had to so her and her friends could survive.

I will say I was a bit disappointed with the love interest in the story. I wanted to see them be more than just consort and Queen, but I can hope for them for the future.

Overall, I was very pleased with the story and how everything was wrapped up. I am very grateful to the publisher for allowing me to read this story early and find how it ends. This is one of my favorite books of 2020.
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Jennifer Estep knows how to create some of the very best imaginative worlds.  Her characters are fierce and brave,  heroes you want to know and embrace.

She seamlessly knows how to blend realism with fantasy making her novels irresistible and hard to put down.
Evie doesn’t have time to get bored with everything that falls on her plate.  It’s now the turn of the Regalia Games.  All members of the royalty will be present, which means that her lifelong enemy will also be there. Determined to stop letting herself be carried away and to attack, our heroine will nevertheless do everything in her power to destroy her opponent. Problem? He has the same idea.
In this third installment in the series there are some revelations that we don’t necessarily see coming and all the old characters we love. Evie is evolving while still trying to do the very best for her kingdom, even if her life is at stake.  She is an amazing heroine, remarkably loyal and likable. 

Battles, romance, magic and mayhem with stunning and masterfully executed storytelling make Crush the King  an outstanding epic fantasy read.
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This is one of those series that I keep hoping will snag my attention, but hasn't. It's got all the elements that usually grab hold of me and never let go, but that hasn't happened so I'm throwing in the towel. Since I can't really put my finger on they why it's not tripping my trigger, I'm chalking it up to "it's me, not you" and moving on.
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Jennifer Estep is one of my favorite authors of all time. I started with her Mythos Academy and it has only gotten better. Crush the King is an incredible book in her newest series and honestly, my favorite series from her so far.
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I enjoyed this book more than the second but the first is still my favorite! This installment  seemed repetitive and predictable to me but it was as fun journey!
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Crown of Shards
Jennifer Estep is no stranger to lengthy series. She has eighteen books in her “Elemental Assassin” urban fantasy series. But she’s also created a solid trilogy that not only introduces an incredibly cool world, but brings her protagonist’s story through a full, complete arc. Unlike Hurley’s trilogy, I’ve been following the “Crown of Shards” books since the first came out in 2018 (covered here), and the second novel was one of my picks for best of 2019 here at Den of Geek. 

The series begins when Evie, a royal from the wrong side of the royal family, is one of the only survivors of a massacre that kills the entire Blair family. Her cousin takes the throne, and Evie goes into hiding with a gladiator troupe. Suddenly, Evie is thrust into a life of combat, and she trains hard to become good at it, learning how to utilize her skills in dancing and courtly subterfuge as an asset in battle. She gains the trust and friendship of the troupe members, as well as developing an unrequited romance with Sullivan, a bastard prince from a neighboring kingdom. Unsurprisingly given the title of the first volume, Evie must Kill the Queen in order to save her own life—and restore peace to her kingdom.

The second novel, Protect the Prince, focuses more on Evie’s attempts to wrangle her nobility under control while fending off attacks from the Mortan king, who plotted the original massacre, and forging alliances with other nations. Although the intrigue and political maneuvering drive the plot, the thread of romance between Evie and Sullivan remains a strong aspect of the story. As the finale of that novel shifts their relationship, it’s a delight to see how the pair come together as a team in the final installment. Some novels need that romantic tension in order to keep the stakes high; Estep deftly moves from unrequited to passion in a way that bolsters the plot rather than taking away from it. Which is important, because the plot follows the long game Evie began in the first novel—and the threads that Estep carefully began weaving—to its ultimate conclusion.

No longer hiding behind deniable assassins, the King of Morta and Evie come face to face. Although the context is one of supposed peace—an Olympics-like tournament where the best of each nation compete—it’s clear from the very first encounter that Evie and the Mortan king would like nothing more than to murder each other. Estep alternates intense courtly intrigue—never has a card game had such high stakes!—with assassination attempts and explosions of magic, revealing just how much Evie has grown into her role as the Winter Queen, and how willing she is to risk everything to save the people—and nation—that she loves.

While the trilogy absolutely brings the story to a close, it’s nice that Estep has left the door open for more stories in this world. Some of the side characters (one who barely appears in this book) have given hints about their own narratives, and because the world of magiers, masters, morphs, and mutts is just so darn cool, I’ll be happy to come back for any story Estep wants to write.
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This review appeared online at on March 19, 2020

Review -- Crush the King 

Crush the King
By Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Reviewed by Nancy

4.5 stars

This concluding volume of Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards trilogy opens with Queen Everleigh (Evie) Blair of Bellona girding for a final confrontation with her nemesis, King Maximus of Morta. In the first book of the trilogy, Kill the Queen, he had her entire family assassinated to put his puppet on the throne. In the second book, Protect the Prince, his agents tried to kill a neighboring monarch and his son, who’re related to Evie’s lover, lightning magier and gladiator Lucas Sullivan. 

Maximus and Evie have never met in person, but they’re about to. The annual multinational games known as the Regalia will soon begin. Custom dictates that the monarchs of participating countries attend. Before the games start, however, events lead Evie to believe she needs to change her approach, to be harder, sterner, and more assertive with her courtiers and her fellow monarchs.

One thing that makes this series so engaging is Evie’s evolution from a scared nobody, a minor blip on the royal family tree, to a confident gladiator and then to a queen. Nothing comes easily to her at any stage, and when she gained the throne in Kill the Queen, she knew she had no clue how to truly be a queen. Protect the Prince showed her growing into that role, learning the pitfalls and advantages while still not feeling she’d truly earned her crown. Throughout the other two books, she has slowly learned how to wield her own magic. 

Crush the King brings this arc to fruition. Her new, more assertive approach is totally believable because of all that has gone before. So is her growth as a magier.

Evie goes to the Regalia knowing she may never get a better shot at Maximus. She plans to kill him during the games and knows he will also try to kill her.

The coming confrontation will involve courtly intrigue and various competitions. Evie has help preparing from her dancing instructor, Xenia, and the gladiators of the Black Swan troupe, including Lucas Sullivan, her consort. Part of the pleasure of reading any series is seeing familiar characters return, so it’s satisfying to see that Evie’s friends still have her back.

Her arch nemesis, Maeven, also returns. A magically gifted but illegitimate member of the Mortan royal family, she is her half brother’s top agent and assassin. Maeven’s story takes a twist here, one that allows Evie to up the stakes in the long game she has played with Maeven since her family was massacred.

The pace of the story generally moves well, with solid action sequences and hot, tender romance as well as intriguing strategy sessions. Still, I would’ve liked to get to the confrontation earlier and was tiring of the prep for it. I also had issues with two particular scenes farther into the book. In one, a confrontation occurs in Evie’s tent. I thought the guards were incredibly lax, probably standing far from the tent, not to notice the noise of the fight sooner. Once they do notice it and announce they’ll check on the queen, a lengthy conversation ensues before the guards arrive. That timing was hard to believe. 

Later, in Evie’s final confrontation with Maximus, he threatens to do something that, in the circumstances, he has absolutely no way to do. He’s not stupid, and this threat feels out of place—even more so because nobody else notes that he can’t possibly do that.

These were my only issues with the book. As Protect the Prince did, Crush the King gives us a broader view of the story world. We explore the island of Fortuna and its crafty owners, the DiLucri family, who’re somewhat reminiscent of the Renaissance Medicis, and learn more about the magic in the world. I especially liked the magical birds known as strixes.

The ending involved a terrific twist that solves Evie’s problems in an unexpected but satisfying way. While Crush the King ties off this trilogy nicely, Estep also plants seeds for further trouble between the Mortan royal family and Evie. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book tremendously despite my issues with a couple of things. I recommend it highly.

4.5 stars

~ Nancy
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“Crush the King” is the action packed conclusion to a very interesting series. I found it somewhat disappointing that not much attention was given to some of the characters, Sullivan especially, in this book.  Overall, though, it did prove to be an engaging and satisfying read.
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The conclusion of A Crown of Shards focuses on the vengeance of a woman who found herself Queen by the sheer cruelty of her murderous cousin. The effect of said conclusion? While it wasn't the hardest hitting ending, it still put up a great fight. 

Evie has been seeking alliances with other empires outside of Svalin and Seven Spire since she was crowned Queen after her cousin's brutal massacre of the entire royal family caused her to stand up to her and fight. in Crush the King, the annual Regalia, an event showcasing the strength of each empire, is the main fighting ground for the relentless royals who will stop at nothing to see each other killed. 

It was a pleasant surprise to see that Evie's enemies stretched beyond her distaste for Maevan and her assistance in the Seven Spire massacre. The Mortan King proves to be quite the adversary, and following the two and their vicious attacks against each other is a wild ride. The Mortan King is a strong character, both in character building and magic. Discovering the method in which he enhances his own magic shows just what a monster he truly is - and Evie being able to discover it before he wipes her out completely is a breath of relief for fans of the Queen. 

The strong aspects of this book lay in the loyalty Evie's friends and royal workers have for her. The way they stand up for her and stick by her is reminiscent of the loyalty of the Golden Trio in the Harry Potter series. Serilda and Paloma are the best people she could ever have on her side, and a lot of the reason she even survived as much as she did. 

The overall story of the trilogy in general was gripping. But the flaws that do exist are glaring, and could be corrected in future Crown of Shards novels when they do come out focusing on other characters. 

The biggest issue lies within Evie's character. The only two times in memory of the whole series that she was hurt enough to be incapacitated were in the first book, after she was blasted over the wall by her cousin and landed in the water, and in Crush the King, when she was blasted down by an assassin in front of a large amount of people at the Regalia. Evie has a very strong "nothing can touch me and I'm going to find a solution to everything" aspect to her. She could be put in the most dangerous situation possible and come out on the other side, mostly unharmed. There is a term that may or may not exist anymore that describes a character like this: "Mary Sue." She isn't perfect in the sense of her attitude and some of the choices she makes, but she has all the aspects of a Mary Sue like character.

Another glaring issue, especially in Crush the King, are the intimate scenes between Evie and Sullivan. They feel completely unnecessary and are poorly written - if they weren't quite as stereotype, rushed, or ridiculous, the randomness may have been possible to forgive. 

All in all, Crush the King mostly hit its mark. The conclusion of the book itself was a mixture of bittersweet and an anti-climactic disappointment. For a series built so highly on action and intense world and character building, it didn't feel quite 'right' to end Evie's story in the way Estep did. 

This still gets a 4/5 stars. One star is knocked off for the two reasons above. 

Thank you for the opportunity to read this before release!
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I've been provided this copy in exchange for my honest review. Jennifer Estep has done it again, this is the perfect conclusion to her trilogy.  I love these characters so much. I'm always instantly drawn into her worlds and captivated from the start. Loved it!
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Estep has been one of my "must-read" authors for some time and this installment was no different!  I was given a complimentary copy through NetGalley but the review is 100% mine.  I came into the book hoping to find Estep's fluid writing style with a colorful, vibrant world full of adventure, intrigue, and passions of all kinds.  I honestly got what I expected in the writing, the world creation, the character building, and the plotline itself.  I will say I had a hard time respecting and liking Evie as a Queen.  She is in her late 20's but behaves pretty immaturely in my opinion, however, I did keep her life in mind as someone who lived around the courts but not raised to rule.  Overall she handled things like an average person would handle being in power so I didn't take any stars off for my personal feelings of unsureness.    Overall the character lineup is so diverse, rich with personality and drama, and kept the book moving at a very pleasant pace.  I loved the intrigue, the Regalia chapters, and Sullivan and Evie's romance.  I highly recommend the series and this book!
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I've read many a title by Jennifer Estep, and I'm a fan of her Elemental Assassin series.  She has found a recipe that works, and has continued to use it in this Crown of Shards series.
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I voluntarily offered to review this book with no obligations and my opinions are honest
It was a great book!
Everleigh has survived the mass murder of her family.
Now, it is time to turn the tables on her enemies.
Will Everleigh have the strenght to prevail ?
The characters + storytelling were very captivating
It has all the ingredients that you need for an awesome book!
I can't wait for the next book in the series!
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I love this series. I picked up the first book from my local bookstore when it was first published and I did not expect to fall into the pages the way I did. I really love stories that are developed and created this way, with action, romance, fantastic character development. Congratulations Estep, you have created an epic world of fantasy, magic and romance that leaves readers thirsting for the next one.
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Crush the King by Jennifer Estep is the third book in her fantasy series Crown of Shards. As with the previous two books this one is filled with both action and political strategy. Estep does a great job of making all of her characters seems real and well-rounded.  I love Evie as a main character because she will do anything to protect her friends and her kingdom.  Well, almost anything . . . it was great to see her struggle with the idea of doing terrible things and to see which lines she would cross and which she wouldn't.

This entry into the series focused less on the romantic story-line that previous books.  Which could be unsatisfying to some readers, but I found that I didn't miss it and was comforted by Sullivan's solid presence around the edges of the story.  We were treated to some fun back and forth banter that reminded us of the connection between Evie and Sullivan.

This book focused more on the political machinations of all the surrounding nations but putting all the royals together at one event.  Unfortunately for Evie, not all battle take place in the gladiator ring and she has to use her wits (and dancing skills) to both stay alive and stay in control. I can appreciate Evie's skills at taunting her enemies.  She truly excels at the "long game" and is able to push her foes right to the brink - and exactly where she wants them.

I found the ending of the book to be very satisfying.  Will there be another in the series?  Estep left room for more, but also tied it up well enough that we wouldn't be forever wondering what happened next.  (Personally, I'd love to see Paloma the star of a spin-off trilogy).

All in all, this was a great book for me, and I couldn't help but speed through it to the end.  To get the full experience, I'd recommend reading the first two books in the series before starting this one - it will be worth it.
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I Love this series! This installment is just as action-packed and filled with intrigue and twists as the previous two.  I was really disappointed that Sullivan is no more than a background blip in this story, though.  Now that Everleigh and he are together, he just melts into the walls only to come out if she needs sex. Why can’t a couple fight together?  Evie utilizes her other friends but we see nothing of Sullivan’s strengths. *sigh*. Otherwise it is absolute awesomeness!
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A great third in a book in a series. If anything, I enjoyed this book more than the previous two. The first two (Kill the Queen and Protect the Prince) were both good, but this one features the queen, Evie, in her element. She's confident in her power, and doesn't fumble as she may have in previous books.

She's bad-ass, and I don't say that lightly. I loved her cunning machinations and the way she manipulated her enemies. 

The other two books have been split between plot and romance, but no more. Sure, Evie and Sullivan are lovey-dovey occasionally, but that's really not in the forefront of this book. It is all (refreshingly) about Queen Everleigh and her quest to finally defeat the king of Morta to protect her kingdom and her life.

The only minor complaint that I have is that Evie seems nearly invincible by the end of this book. I never doubted that she would be successful.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for free in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.
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