I am truly lacking the words to write this review of Kingsbane because not only is it gripping and expansive, but it is truly epic. It’s one of those series where you keep thinking, “Yes, give me more!”
Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien―but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.Summary from Amazon
Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption―fear of becoming another Rielle―keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted―by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I have been looking forward to Kingsbane since I finished Furyborn. Every book in this trilogy, I finish and end up wanting more. But I don’t even mind the wait, because it makes diving back into the Empirium Trilogy even more delightful. The world building is expansive, with Kingsbane adding even more layers, considerations, and ethical dilemmas. Not to mention that Legrand’s characters are some of the most complex I’ve read. They make choices they know they shouldn’t and to follow their heart.
(Rielle and Eliana are bisexual in case this needed a reminder).
Monsters and Acceptance
But I think what struck me the most about Kingsbane is how Eliana and Rielle both struggle in this book with self-acceptance. In a variety of ways, both of them feel a tad monstrous – whether that be Eliana’s fear of her powers, or the way the people treat Rielle – and so Kingsbane becomes about their journey grappling with this. Can they figure out how to accept themselves, even if no one else will? Or can they learn to accept that their power can be used for both terrible good and evil – if such a dichotomy exists?
Power & Freedom
And in many ways, we see similar themes of power, responsibility, and sacrifice mirrored and reflected in different ways in both Eliana and Rielle. Do we let the thirst for power overcome us? Do we give into our deepest desires to be adored – in this way I couldn’t stop thinking of that scene in Lord of the Rings with Galadriel. It’s intoxicating to touch a glimpse of eternity with the breadth of your hand, trailing our fingers through stardust.
But at the end of the day, how free are we? Do we serve a duty to others, our country, our loved ones? And we can’t really be one or the other. Life is never that simple. It’s never as black and white as good or evil, Sun or Blood, power, desire, and our heart just don’t work that way.
I really don’t have enough words in my meager brain to describe the expansiveness of Kingsbane. It’s one of those books that awes me with the sheer appreciation of Legrand’s story mastery and character development. There’s something for everyone in here – good banter, swoonworthy (and sometimes steamy) romance, political maneuvers, and angels. Not to mention that ending will keep you counting down until the finale.
At the end of the day, does someone’s belief in us as someone else, someone more, someone better, does that help us? Does it inspire us to be that person? Or does it show us that they don’t truly know us, see the darkest desires in our heart, the secrets behind closed doors?