Cover Image: The King's Seal

The King's Seal

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When I first previewed Amy Kuivalainen’s The Immortal City about two years ago, I had hopes that the weaknesses in plotting and execution would improve as the series progressed. The characters and premise were still intriguing enough and I love watching new writers grow and their style develop. While the characters and premise continued to be intriguing and were enough to keep me reading through The Sea of the Dead to the recently released final novel of the series, The King’s Seal, the weaknesses surrounding the overarching plot and execution (in particular the final showdown that has been building for three books now), was as much of a letdown as I had started to suspect it would be. 

Penelope pushes away her grief over Tim’s death by working to unravel the riddles he left in his wake in order to find King Solomon’s ring – the ring that is their best chance of defeating Thevetat and his supporters before they can properly resurrect him and bind him to a body. She also has new magic that she needs to practice wielding so if Thevetat forces a confrontation sooner she isn’t a liability. The approaching magical high tide is wreaking havoc on the other magicians’ magic and is bringing past quarrels and unfinished business to the surface (the promise of their possible deaths in the event of Thevetat succeeding pushes those conflicts along too). Old friends must be found and protected and they have to try to get ahead of Thevetat if they are to have any hope of defeating him. 

The King’s Seal proves that there is only so much that compelling characters can do to carry a series. The friendships and the banter among the magicians were part of what captured my interest by the end of the first book and it did a lot to carry the second as well. At this point in the series, as much as the teasing and glimpses into the backstories of the immortal characters is still interesting, the more the novel pushed toward the climactic confrontation, the more some of those interactions felt tedious, repetitious and a waste of time. There is so little conflict between Penelope and Alexis (or rather, it’s the same conflict over and over with the same uneventful resolution) that they feel stagnant. The jealousies that have long kept Phaidros and Aelia from admitting how they feel to one another continue to be alluded to without any lengthy or satisfying discussion to make their relationship as compelling as it should be. Perhaps the most interesting relationship is the friendship between Constantine and Zo – or maybe it’s just that Constantine is a new character so most of his interactions with the magicians are fresh and interesting. 

The biggest weakness of the series as a whole continues to be the lackluster confrontations. I don’t well remember the climactic confrontation at the end of The Immortal City but it was compelling enough to keep me invested in the series and I had hoped that the underwhelming climax of The Sea of the Dead would just be the slump that can sometimes happen with the middle book of a trilogy. Unfortunately, despite all the buildup to the final showdown with Thevetat, as the number of pages left dwindled, it became clearer and clearer that everything would be less epic than the premise promised. Looking back to my review of The Immortal City, I had hoped that there would be more interrogation of the ideas of fate and choice. There is certainly a lot in The King’s Seal that deals with fate but not much to really explore what that means for concepts like free will. The action sequences are still over too quickly and where the other novels had significant emotional punches that worked well even if the confrontations themselves were lackluster, The King’s Seal didn’t really have much of that to give the finale the gravitas it deserved. There was a little too much (at times, literal) deus ex machina going on.
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The story left something to be desired.  I liked the modern take on ancient magic, the sex scenes were revolting.  By the end I felt like I was reading something I just couldn't care enough about.  I just plain didn't like the book which is saying something because it really has to be bad for me to not like it especially when fantasy my favorite genera is involved.
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The King’s Seal is the third book in The Magicians of Venice series by Amy Kuivalainen and, once again, I loved it. This book brings Dr Penelope Bryne, Alexis Donato, and the fellow magicians in a search for the ring of King Solomon to aid in stopping Thevetat and his priests. Dealing with moody magicians along with her own rising power is proving to be a challenge but one she is well equipped to handle. 

The wold building that Kuivalainen does in this book is beautiful and easy to imagine. She truly brings you along in the journey with these characters and makes you feel as if you’re part of the story. 

In this third book we really get to know more of the other magicians, not just Alexis and Penelope. All of these magicians have their own history, as well, as their shared one and I love that we get to see more of them throughout the book. I mean, can we get a book just on Phaidros and Aelia, please!! 

The Magicians of Venice series has been one of my favorites since the beginning and this book only solidifies it’s place on my bookshelf.
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The King's Seal is the third and final book in the Magicians of Venice trilogy- here Penelope and the magicians must find the Ring of Solomon to help them defeat Thevatat and his plan to not only provide a body for himself but also unleash more demons on the world. Penelope learns more about the complicated histories of her friends, meets an emperor, and begins to try and understand her place in this magical world- which includes understanding powers of her own.

The Magicians of Venice is definitely a trilogy that should be read in order. Each book builds on the other as pasts are unveiled, alliances formed, and the danger Thevatat and his followers presents build to the ultimate climax. But it isn't all terror at the coming fight. Like in The Immortal City and The Sea of the Dead, Amy Kuivalainen takes time to develop her cast of characters and provide bits of the joy, awe, and sorrow that must come from being immortal. Meeting the emperor Constantine brings up emotions from all of the magician's pasts and when the Sforzas and Medicis are brought into the mix we get to see Phaidros and Aelia at some of their most emotional states (both for better and worse). Thankfully in a house of magicians there's always someone able to put the thrown china and other breakables back together. 

I enjoyed the continued thread of Phaidros and Aelia in their will-they-won't-they relationship, especially since we finally get to see Aelia at her most vulnerable and hear why they haven't gotten together when the two of them seem to be the only ones who don't realize they are in love with each other. With the continuing threats Alexis is at some of his fiercest Defender moments, but there are also delightfully sweet and tender scenes with Penelope as she helps him remember the good that was Atlantis and not just the wars. Penelope continues to be her strong and stubborn self, refusing to be overawed by ancient magicians or murdering demons.  She and Marco take things in admirable stride, no matter what weirdness gets thrown at them. Constantine helps shake things up but also helps bring together the final battle and fits well into the mix.

At first reading I thought the final battle was a little anticlimactic, but after thinking about it for a few minutes I changed my mind. No spoilers here but I think it ended exactly the way it should have.  In the end, life goes on and learning to celebrate the joys as well as the sorrows is something even immortal magicians need to learn.  Kuivalainen wrapped things up beautifully, but maybe we can still hope for more in this world of hers. Constantine may be a jerk at times but would be an interesting spin off, as would focusing on some of the magicians we get less of like Zo or Galenos and Lyca  Even more interesting would be going back to Atlantis and the first wars that ended the island. But even if this is the last book Kuivalainen writes in this world, it is certainly a world we can be grateful we can return to any time, just by picking up the books. It is certainly one I plan on returning to frequently.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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I was given a free copy of the King’s Seal by Amy Kuivalainen (author), BHC (publisher), and Net Galley to provide an honest review.  King’s Seal is the third in the Magicians of Venice trilogy with Immortal City (Book 1) and Sea of the Dead (Book 2) already available.

Trigger Warning: Sexual Scenes

This review will be spoiler free.

I would characterize King’s Seal as urban fantasy with romance involving immortals.

I did not read neither Immortal City nor Sea of the Dead, but I was not confused or lost as I read King’s Seal.  
The story takes place in modern day, and it serviced the story, but it did not detract or distract from the story.  

A strength of this story is Ms. Kuivalainen inserts information about history in such a way that is interesting for the most part.  She primarily does this through dialogue as one of the immortals reminisces or shares a memory of something that may have happened thousands of years ago.  When the character is talking about a historical event, he or she makes it sound personal to the character because the he or she drops in a bit of color that adds an extra layer to the historical event.  The bits of history worked better in the beginning of the story and less so in the latter parts which I mention later in this review.

Magic is important aspect of the story. The main character has started to develop the ability to use magic and the way Ms. Kuivalainen features the magic makes it feel that it is another character in the story.  The magic system is very amorphous, and it is something akin to a soft magic system.

The strongest aspect of the story are the characters. I found the main character, a historical researcher, to be entertaining, and engaging. Her learning about her magic abilities and her relationship with an immortal, made her character arc very compelling and I wanted to follow her on her journey as I read the story.  Her love interest is very engaging and he something to do in this story other than being the love interest of the main character.  Each of the side characters had something to do in this story, was unique, and added another layer and complexity to the story.  

I did have a quibble about the antagonists/villains in the story.  I did not necessarily want to get a perspective from one of the bad guys to understand the motivation, but I found them to be nothing more than the typical mustache-twirling villains.

Another quibble I had with this story is that the flow of the story slows to a crawl in some parts of the middle and near the end of the story.  I was not taken out of the story, but I was skimming because the bits of history that I found interesting in the beginning of the book was a little less interesting in latter parts.  I felt like I was reading part of history books as opposed to a novel.

Nevertheless, I found King’s Seal to be an overall enjoyable read.  I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy urban fantasy with romance and a healthy dose of history.

I rate King’s Seal 4 stars.

I would like to thank Amy Kuivalainen , BHC Press, and Netgalley for the free arc.
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Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars

The story opens with Penelope’s grief. Tim’s death brought the apocalypse much closer to home and Penelope has a hard time reconciling with that. Because of her situation, she hasn’t been able to process the loss so it creeps up on her throughout the novel. Since her relationship with Tim was fraught in the last book, The King’s Seal allows her to remember the good times, making his loss affect her deeply. This also makes her more anxious and prone to being overwhelmed. It isn’t often that the effects of grief are dwelled on, so I really liked what Kuivalainen did here.

Penelope’s relationship with Alexis also changes. The looming end of the world does nothing to dampen their love for each other, neither do the constant challenges that arise. Just like the previous book, they both calm each other’s anxieties, with Alexis being especially attentive to Penelope’s grief. Kuivalainen makes their relationship even more delightful by avoiding tropes that would separate them for the drama of it all, which I found a welcome break from love triangles.

One thing that stood out, however, was Alexis’ need for control. He struggles with letting go, especially when it comes to Penelope’s safety, even towards the end of the series. This left the occasional bad taste in my mouth as it could’ve been done better. As is, it comes off as a lot of telling without many actions to show it from his part.

Amy Kuivalainen looks beyond her main couple in The King’s Seal. While there are few chapters from Lyca’s POV, Marco’s chapters more than make up for it as the book explores their friendship. A welcome break from all the romance, those two make the perfect team and I would gladly experience more of their adventures. Finally, Kuivalainen delves into the relationship between Aelia and Phaidros. The long time rivalry between the two comes to a peak in this final book and it was fascinating to see how it all unravelled. As far as other side characters go, there’s another immortal brought in to stir things up, while Elazar also makes a reappearance.

The plot in The King’s Seal is much like in previous books. There’s a lot of research to further the plot, along with another treasure hunt for Solomon’s Ring. It had a good pace, with mounting tension that cumulated in the final battle and a lovely ending full of hope. There were times when the research or history slowed the book down a little, but not to the extent that I would call it ‘dragging’. Without spoiling too much, the ending felt somewhat rushed. At 275 pages, adding another 20 or 30 wouldn’t have changed the length significantly, but it would have allowed for a more satisfying ending.

As far as the writing goes, I didn’t find much that stood out. Kuivalainen’s dialogue is stilted at times but the prose flows well. She still weaves the Atlanteans throughout history in a fascinating manner, this time delving into the relationships they created along the way. The pacing was good enough, but I continue to think Kuivalainen’s strength lies in her characters.

All in all, I enjoyed The King’s Seal by Amy Kuivalainen. I would have liked to see more character development from some and a little more plot at the end of the novel. This final book outshines its prequel to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. If you were a fan of the previous ones, don’t hesitate to pick this up!

Editor’s note: This book is classified as adult, and as such it contains on-page sex scenes and depictions of violence/death.
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THE KING’S SEAL was a great conclusion to Penelope and the Magicians' battle against Thevetat and his evil priests. This whole series is chock-full of historical references but this one especially used them. It’s not an area of history I’m at all familiar with but I really enjoyed it and liked the small ways Amy Kuivalainen incorporated the Magicians into real life historical events.

Once again, Penelope and Alexis were so swoony and amazing! By now they’ve pretty much cemented their relationship and any angst comes from external sources. Together Penelope and Alexis are a magical powerhouse and I loved the way they supported and cared for each other. Alexis is so protective of Penelope but he also respects her strengths and never wants to hold her back. They’re also both such big nerds when it comes to books and history and those moments were really cute.

Just like the previous books, I loved the secondary characters like Marco and the other Magicians, especially Zo. I love when books have strong secondary characters who play significant roles in the story so that’s been a highlight of this series. Phaidros and Aelia especially get a lot of page time in THE KING’S SEAL as they finally begin to heal their relationship.

My only very minor complaint is that the final confrontation felt a little quick and simplified considering how much build up went into finding a way to defeat Thevetat, but ultimately I’m not too bothered by it. Overall, a really enjoyable read and this series has solidified Amy Kuivalainen as a new favorite author.

Content Warning: references to a secondary character being raped in the past
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Loved this series so much! I was so disappointed to see the series end, but only because it was so well written. I enjoyed this book just as much as the first two, and I look forward to more books from the author.
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I absolutely loved all three books in this series. I honestly wish there were more to read simply because I love the story line. 

Thank you to NetGalley and BHC Press for this ARC. Thank you Amy Kuivalainen for creating this world!
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I really enjoyed reading this book and flew through the entire series prior to reading this.  I loved learning more about the characters and the plot development and did not want the book to end!  Thank you Netgalley and BHC Press for this ARC however all opinions are my own.
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I've been a fan of this trilogy since the beginning. I couldn't possibly love these characters more. While the end may appear rushed, it's not. I'm over long drawn out, gratuitously violent battle scenes. I appreciated that they had a well executed plan to defeat the enemy. That's how super dope, 10,000-year-old magicians roll.

I will revisit this series again in the future, and the best part will be that I can now do without a year long wait between books!
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Can’t believe this journey is over! I have adored this trilogy!! 
Loved every moment and I can’t wait to see what she brings out next!!
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This is book three of a trilogy, so reading the first two is a must before diving into this one.

I always dislike reviewing/finishing a series. There are very few series that live up to my expectations, especially when I've fallen in love with the characters and do not want to see the journey end.
The same definitely holds true for "The King's Seal." I have been obsessively waiting for the third book to be released (publication date: June 24th, 2021)-- and then once I received the ARC edition of the book, I couldn't bring myself to read it. I want Alexis, Penelope, and the rest of the cast of characters to continue to have adventures to read about. 

"The King's Seal" was fast-paced at times- there was an urgency to understand how to defeat Thevetat and Abbadon that had been building from the previous book. I felt that the flow of the series was going very well, until I noticed I was 93% of the way through the book and knew the book was at its end. Unfortunately, I felt that the last portion of the book was rushed to completion. There could have been at least another 20-30 pages to pull together all of the loose ends and make the ending more satisfying. There was a lot at stake, and it ended up being considerably anti-climactic.

I still love this series. All three books will definitely be featured in paperback in my collection and recommended to my friends who want to read a fun fantasy/romance. I just wish there was more to the end than there was.
Thank you Netgalley and BHC Press for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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Addictive and wonderful and I want more. I was sorry to read that The King’s Seal is the last book in the series because just like Penelope I fell in love with Venice and it’s magicians. 

I higly recommend all three books because they pulled me out of my everyday life and kept me reading and made me laugh and cry.

The ending left me a dissatisfied though. It felt rushed. I expected an epic fight between Penelope and Thevetat but I was disappointed. So 4 stars from me. I still loved this journey and I’m sure I will reread the whole trilogy someday.

Thank you to NetGalley and BHC Press for my copy and Amy Kuivalainen for giving us this amazing and magical story.
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