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Gleam is the third installment in the reimaging of the King Midas myth series called The Plated Prisoner. It takes place immediately following the events of Glint, so spoiler warning for that book. Auren learns the fact that King Slade Ravinger (King Rot) is Commander Rip. He is able to transform his appearance between the two, and he’s just learned that she’s the one who can turn things to gold, not Midas. I started this book immediately after finishing Glint because I had to know how Auren was going to react to that information. She has started to get feelings for the Fourth Kingdom’s King. Not only that but she feels betrayed by him for not telling her that detail. Similar to how everyone hides or keeps things from her, or tries to dictate her life. She’s done with it. And honestly, I don’t blame her.
“I don’t choose him. Not anymore. I’m choosing me.”
King Midas made me the woman I am today. Notorious. Unattainable. His.
The thing about being confined is that you believe it’s to keep the bad out. …Until you realize it’s about keeping you in.
I’m now in a strange kingdom surrounded by liars, with no allies of my own, but I won’t sit idly by and let myself wither. No, there’s something that’s bloomed from the pit of my repression. Something dark. Something angry.
But the last thing I expected was for my anger to call out to him. King Ravinger.
He’s sinister and powerful and entirely too seductive. I’ve learned my lesson with trusting manipulative kings, so why does my chest constrict every time he’s near? I need to tread carefully, or I’m at risk of losing much more than just my freedom.
Regret and revenge war inside of me, and I need to figure out a plan fast before I get tangled up in the schemes of kings and queens.
Because I won’t be caught in a cage again. No, this time, it’ll be me setting the trap.
…I just hope my heart comes out of this unscathed.
- Published: May 31, 2021
- Page Count: 613 pages
- Genre: Fantasy
- Trigger Warning: Stockholm Syndrome, emotional manipulation, and physical abuse.
Thoughts on Gleam (Spoilers)
This book alternates between Auren’s (majority of the book), Midas’s, Queen Malina’s, and Slade’s POV.
A lot happens in this book. I’ll break down some of the more heavy plot items, but there are more elements that happen. Like the saddles being drugged and how this drug is procured by Midas. It basically is like roofies but it’s also like the Spanish fly. Everyone who takes it is extremely sexually stimulated to the point they have no idea what’s going on around them. There’s also the fallout between Slade and the Wrath with Auren, though it’s only temporary as their relationships are mended. But it’s not immediately patched over. They are disappointed she went back to Midas. Rightfully so. But what can they expect, she was manipulated by Midas for a decade and only knew them for a few weeks. Yes, they opened her eyes, but she wanted to see if Midas would understand her need for change. Which of course, he doesn’t. And since Auren knows she left the Wrath behind, she can’t trust them with her plans on getting away from Midas initially.
Midas learns of the pregnancy and is at first furious especially since everyone is going against him. Auren isn’t meek or docile anymore, his wife is attempting to take the Sixth Kingdom away from him, and the Fifth Kingdom is wondering where the gold is. Since he hasn’t had Auren do a slip of the hand and make everything gold. He plots and decides that Malina will claim she’s pregnant and then pretend the saddle’s child is hers so Midas can claim a legitimate heir. Something that Malina refuses to do. This just makes her even more furious since she not only is struggling to get the will of the people on her side, but the nobles are starting to turn against her. Midas learning that she won’t do as he says sends an assassin to kill her. Not only that but incites riots to the point where they storm the castle and everyone abandons or flees her save for a few individuals. All of whom are later killed by the assassin. If the Queen lived or not is still up in the air, though the word was set to Midas that she was killed by the assassin. So I’m inclined to believe she didn’t survive, but if a character isn’t explicitly shown as dead… I don’t fully believe it. Case and point, Digby. Not to mention, she was declared dead before she actually was by Midas.
Auren’s POV focuses largely on her coming to terms that Midas isn’t who she thought he was. As well as her planning how she was going to escape him once and for all. However, her plan is morphed numerous times. First, she is going to have Rissa help her since they already have a tentative agreement on the matter over the fact Rissa saw Auren gold-touch the pirate captain back in the first book. Then Digby is added into the mix when it turns out he’s alive. And of course, she fell in love with Slade and doesn’t want to lose him. All the while, Midas is emotionally manipulating her in an attempt to get her back in line. One of his tactics when locking her in a room doesn’t work is telling her that her guard Digby survived. And unless she does exactly what Midas wants, then Digby will die. Auren thought Digby died during the raid like another guard named Sail. His whereabouts after the pirates were unknown, so it was possible for Digby to still be alive. However, Midas won’t let Auren see if his words are true. Though it turns out to be true. When Digby isn’t enough to keep her in line, he hits her, cuts off all her ribbons, then drugs her to the point she is blacked out for a long time and struggles with remembering what she was supposed to do until the ball occurs.
When she saw Digby alive, I was nervous that Midas was going to kill him, especially after Auren admitted she hated Midas. This leads to her ribbons being cut off and her getting drugged. But she manages to have a moment with Digby where she attempts that he was like a father to him. And he shares that he will always be her guard. Not to mention, he wishes he had taken Auren up on the drinking games. It was such a sweet moment. Even if it was surrounded by a lot of dark things.
The ball is where things really kick-off. We learn that Midas was the flesh trader that wanted her as a child. When he didn’t get her then, he followed after her and set up her capture/rescue. The event that indebted her to him. Midas attempts he will take everything from Auren and has Commander Rip locked up. Granted, it’s not actually Slade. She realizes that the double is nearly identical to Slade when Digby and the double arrive in the ballroom right after Midas has the Fifth Kingdom’s Prince and heir killed. The poison makes it look like he was rotted so the blame falls to Slade. But Midas was taking Slade down before he even learned that he’s the one that Auren was sneaking out to see, not Commander Rip. When Auren tries to leave with the Fourth Kingdom (Slade, the Wrath, and Digby), Midas puts a knife to her throat to kill her. He won’t let anyone have her if she refuses to be his. Which causes her to snap. Rightfully so. Even though the sun has set, she figures out enough to make the gold that she gilded every room in the castle with come to life and kills Midas with it.
We don’t learn who the body double for Commander Rip is until the end of the book. It’s Slade’s brother Ryatt. We only learn his name through Shade’s POV from his side of Auren killing Midas. We also get confirmation that the Wrath (Osrik, Judd, and Lu) along with Ryatt and Digby make it out of the ordeal alive. Slade stays with her to get her out of the hold of her power. But when she doesn’t let it go, he puts her in a rotten stasis so he can get her away from the gold. Though he’s not sure if she’ll be ok since there’s a certain time limit they can afford before it does true damage. But he plans on releasing the magic when they get back to his army, where they’ll head back to the Fourth Kingdom. He also worries that the Third Kingdom’s Queen will come after Auren since it was revealed who had the real gold touch power. And it wasn’t Midas.
Overall, I would give Gleam a 3.5 out of 5-star rating.
We have to wait until May 19, 2022 for the next book in the series called Glow. I will definitely be reading it once the book comes out.
It’s going to be interesting moving forward since Midas is dead. I really hope Auren is actually alright. I have a feeling she’s going to be fine, but it’s going to be different to see how the series moves forward. I’m going to be glad the manipulation and schemes of Midas will be gone. Those sections crawled under my skin, so I’m so fucking glad he’s gone. He was a bastard. In a way, he reminded me a bit of my father with the gaslighting, emotional manipulation, and narcissism. So, I’m especially glad Auren was the one to end him. Plus, she stepped into her own during the course of the series so far. She’s not sitting back and letting things happen. She’s taking control and learning. Something I’m so grateful for compared to the first book. I also can’t wait for more of the Wrath, as they are some of my favorite characters in this series. They kind of remind me of the Inner Circle from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. All very powerful and deadly, but absolute gems to each other.
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