Book Review of Kingsbane (The Empirium Trilogy #2) by Claire Legrand

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As much as I love sharing every little thought I have while reading books, sometimes I struggle to set the book down and write down my thoughts. Or I fall asleep then have to try to recall my thoughts the following morning. And considering how the last book went. I’m not even going to attempt to try it with this one. Mostly as I kept forgetting what order things happened in or if it was from the previous section. So, for Kingsbane the second book in The Empirium Trilogy by Claire Legrand, I’m just going to do a standard review once I finish the book.

Before we get into the review, let’s go over the details.

Synopsis

Two queens, separated by thousands of years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength―and their hearts.

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.

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.

Book Details

  • Published: May 21, 2019
  • Page Count: 624
  • Genre: YA Fantasy

Also, just a little note. I find it weird… in a way that the hardcover series, the dust cover primary cover is different than the book inside. So, the inside of Kingsbane matches the dust cover for Lightbringer, the cover for Kingsbane matches the hardback of Furyborn. And then Furyborn cover with Lightbringer inside. They aren’t uniform.

Note before continuing on, I will be discussing various plot points so spoiler warning is in affect.

It took me a while to read this book (2 weeks in total). It wasn’t bad, it just was still reminding me too much of Siege and Storm from Leigh Bardugo. There was a fair amount of changed elements especially with time travel. I’m curious how that event will ripple through the next book, since we know things have changed. We just don’t know how much.

I am willing to wager that the book is still going to follow almost the same timeline as Ruin and Rising. Rielle will go after the remaining castings as Alina went for the last amplifier. Something will turn her against Corien, most likely her child since she’s pregnant with Eliana, and Eliana unless things are too drastically altered will try again to come for her to convince her against her current path. And Rielle will reconcile and end up with Audric, as Alina ended up with Mal. Though I’m not sure about the power thing if somehow Rielle will be stripped of it. Considering how closely the two have been on Rielle’s part I think somehow Rielle will end up powerless, or dying due to the power after turning against Corien.

The worldbuilding is great especially as they travel to different parts of the world. Every area in the map is touched upon and detailed. Either through Rielle’s or Eliana’s chapters. We also got a few chapters here and there from Audric, Ludivine, Simon, and others. So, we could see a whole picture of things without it jumping too much back and forth. I think the thing that saved the chapter flips this time was Legrand went to other characters in that age to finish an action before hopping back to the other. There was still a lot of that happening, but the extra smaller chapters from other character’s POV helped balance it better.

Alright now the characters and my thoughts on them:

  • Rielle – She is very much Alina. The second book more or less follows the same plot as the second book of Shadow and Bone. Rielle must get the castings in order to use her power to the full potential against the gate like Alina needed her amplifiers to use her powers to the full potential against the Darkling. Both of them are left feeling utterly alone and misunderstood in their powers, and have the dark pair of their bond talk to them in their sleep/thoughts. Rielle does end up pregnant with Audric’s child (Eliana) but keeps this a secret especially after the fall out during their wedding, that resulted in her running to Corien. Almost like how Alina went to the Darkling, though she did turn on him in that same moment. Rielle has yet to do that.
  • Corien – We interestingly get chapters from him in this book. He is 100% still the equivalent of the Darkling. He wants revenge for being locked in the deep and will use whatever means to get it. Including using Rielle and her power to do so. He pits Rielle against everyone like the Darkling did to Alina. Made her feel utterly alone and misunderstood by everyone around her. I’m curious what will happen in the next book with Corien, since Rielle has joined him after the entire kingdom including Audric (temporarily) turned against her. Not to mention, he’s aware of Eliana. And the fact that she’s Rielle’s daughter thanks to her attempting to come back and talk with Rielle.
  • Audric – Poor boy keeps losing all his family, his kingdom is in chaos and his lover is half seeing another guy… an angel (although he encouraged Rielle to do this to get information). And then he marries Rielle (as we knew would happen), he finds out the truth about what happened to his father. Rielle killed him when she lost control of her power fighting Corien. Of course, this hurt him enough where he couldn’t take the secrets and lies anymore from Rielle and Lu. However, I wouldn’t classify Audric completely as Mal as I compared him to in Furyborn.
  • Ludivine – There’s not much about her character other than she tries to shield Rielle from Corien. But at the same time, she does this quite literally in Rielle’s mind. Enough where Rielle barely gets any sleep between the two angels, and doesn’t get a moment to think for herself. Lu’s side is also up for debate. We know she’s for Rielle but that’s it. She lies to Audric about things Rielle has done and keeps the truth about the Deep a secret from Rielle.
  • Simon – There’s a lot to unpack with this characters. For starters, he is still mysterious with little to nothing known about his past between the years he fled with Eliana to him reuniting with her. He was locked off from his ability to thread through space and time, until Eliana helped him unlock that ability again. Though we have some chapters from his perspective all we know is he loves Eliana and would do anything for her… but at the same time he betrays her in the final chapter to be brought back to Corien. So, either something changed drastically after the time travel event or we were lied to/deceived as Eliana was. I have a feeling it’s the former since past Corien is aware that Eliana is Rielle’s daughter, and knows bits and pieces about her from his time in her head. Who’s to say he didn’t get Simon of that new timeline on his side rather than Red Crown’s?
  • Eliana – She starts to take more of an active role in her story. Granted, a lot of things are out of control. She starts learning how to use her magic with the assistance of castings (ones she fashions to look like gauntlets of chains). Not only that but she starts to trust others, and apologize for her actions with the Red Crown. Though not all is easily forgiven, but she goes a lot way to make things right. She finds a cure for Navi. After being taken during a siege, she helps Red Crown take out an outpost and saves several women who were being changed into crawlers. And they use the last of the antidote to cure them. Then Eliana works with Simon to come up with a plan to save the world. Involving her going back to the Second Age and convince Rielle not to side with Corien. Granted, there is a language difference between the two so it doesn’t work out. Not to mention Corien learns about her! In more details other than just an infant that escaped through time. That is going to have major effects in the next book especially after Simon turning her over to the Empire.
  • Harkan – He makes a return in this book, and makes bad decisions in regards to Eliana. Ones that cannot be changed or forgiven. But he tries his hardest to make up for them regardless. While he’s not my favorite character, nor do I support his actions, I understood why he did what he did. Granted, it was selfish. And in the end he dies trying to protect Eliana.

I would give this book a 3.5 star rating out of 5. It was better than the last, but only marginally. At this point, I don’t have high hopes for Lightbringer. Again, it’s just too similar to Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo for me to rate it higher. And considering this series came out after that series, I think it’s something that can’t be overlooked. Even if I like that’s there’s more to this series than there was in that one. The world is more built out, we have more complex characters, and it is more NA than MG/YA. As I mentioned in my Furyborn review, if I hadn’t read the other series I would’ve rated this higher. I probably also wouldn’t have such a hard time getting into the series. But that’s where I’m at with it.

I’m going to be reading the final book next… though considering A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas is coming out in the next few days. That might get read first. We’ll see as I’m not a multiple book at a time kind of person.

Love ya,

Mae Polzine

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4 Comments

  1. February 15, 2021 / 4:34 PM

    Lovely review, Mae! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the last book.

    • Mae Polzine
      Author
      February 15, 2021 / 7:48 PM

      Thanks Lu!
      ♥ Mae

  2. Brooke Carrington
    February 20, 2021 / 10:34 AM

    Nice review! I really like this cover!

    • Mae Polzine
      Author
      February 20, 2021 / 12:27 PM

      Thank you! Same, I love the design of these covers.
      ♥ Mae

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