My Thoughts on King of Battle and Blood (Adrian x Isolde, Book 1) by Scarlett St. Clair

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I love Scarlett St. Clair’s Persephone and Hades series, so I was curious what her first book outside of that series was going to be like. Especially when I learned it was about vampires. Plus it’s an enemies-to-lovers-style romance, which is always filled with tension. Granted the enemies-to-lovers part is one-sided in this book. If you don’t want spoilers since I’m going to be sharing all my thoughts on King of Battle and Blood, I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. I could not put it down. There are some darker themes and romance scenes are not fade to black. Though I wouldn’t say any of the darker moments are very graphic. I’m curious to see where the rest of this series is going to go. I can’t remember where the next book in this series is slotted for release since Scarlett St. Clair is still working on publishing the rest of her Persephone and Hades books.

Synopsis

Their union is his revenge.

Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day to be her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him.

But her assassination attempt is thwarted, and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries to kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court.

Except it isn’t the court she fears most―it’s Adrian. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king―fierce, savage, merciless―chose her as consort.

The answer will shatter her world.

Book Details

  • Published: November 30, 2021
  • Page Count: 400 pages
  • Genre: Dark Fantasy, Romance

My Thoughts on King of Battle and Blood (Spoiler Warning)

King of Battle and Blood follows the first POV of Isolde as she meets King Adrian, the King of Vampires and Revekka, who has been conquering the Nine Houses of Cordova. Isolde is the Princess and sole heir of Lara. She isn’t the typical princess, meaning she rather fight and do her own thing rather than gossip around the court with other ladies. So, she doesn’t have a lot of fans with the rest of Cordova, since she’s held and attacked other princes who wanted things from her like marriage. This includes Lara’s Commander, who she has slept with prior to the story. Her father even told the Commander he would give Isolde to the Commander for marriage if Killian kills Adrian. Something that Isolde is not pleased with as she thinks he’s mediocre at best in bed.

Immediately when she runs into Adrian, there is a spark between the two. While initially, he had no plans on demanding a wife in exchange for Lara’s surrender, he ends up doing that. And it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing as we come to find out. And I got right away that Adrian was already completely in love with her. The question was why. It’s something Isolde asks time and time again as well. Though she doesn’t pick up on the fact he loves her until much later. It was the little details in their interactions that keyed me in on this. He was too quick to promise anything or listen to her when they first met. There wasn’t enough time or moments for that trust to build, and yet he was doing things for her. Along with some of the things he said were hints towards the fact he cared a lot about her right away. Not to mention, he notes things immediately about her like the fact she’s terrified of fire.

We also learn that Cordova’s history is flawed at best. They were plunged into a dark era after Adrian became a vampire, so most of their history is lost. Most of what Isolde knows about it is false. There were once witches that were burned at the stake by the previous King of Revekka. Cordova believed they were evil when in reality they were not. Not to mention, political enemies and families of the High Coven (the ruling body of witches) were killed in the Burning as well. When it was revealed that Isolde’s mother was killed when she was born, and she had no past experiences with bad fires… I knew immediately she was a witch in a previous life. The questions then became which one. Since this happened around the time Adrian became a vampire, so I figured they knew each other in that previous life of Isolde. Especially when she starts having dreams of things that happened in another life. She would see places that she doesn’t go to for the first time until the next day. Little clues are sprinkled in until we learn she was Yesenia, the High Witch for King Dragos before she was executed. Adrian had been one of Dragos’s warriors and made a deal with a goddess to bring her back. In exchange, he became a vampire, but if he ever drank from Isolde (something she would have to choose per Dis’s bargain), their lives would become bound. If she dies, he dies. She would become his only weakness. A detail only four individuals knew about: Sorin (Tracker and Daroc’s lover), Ana (Adrian’s cousin), Daroc (General and Sorin’s lover), and Tanaka (Adrian’s viceroy).

Of everyone in the inner circle for Adrian, Tanaka is the one we have the least interactions with. I think he literally only has one or two lines in total during the course of the book. Daroc also has few lines but we know enough about his personality to know he’s extremely serious. One of the four betrayed Adrian at some point to reveal his weakness to Ravena, a witch responsible for the burning of witches, and helped Dragos. She is still alive and has begun to create an army using a crimson mist. If I had to guess at this time which of the four betrayed Adrian, my money is on Tanaka. He wasn’t happy regarding Isolde being in the council room and kept his distance from her every other time they were in the same area. Daroc, Sorin, and Ana also stayed by Isolde’s side when she was poisoned. If they wanted to exploit Adrian’s weakness, they had plenty of time to do so then. Granted, it would be more emotional for it to be one of the other three. I don’t think it would be Sorin considering he’s been the one trying to track and kill Ravena, but fails due to her portal magic abilities allowing her to get away. Though I guess it could be him, considering he has failed to catch her for 200+ years. Otherwise, my next guess would be Darroc, as he’s not overly warm towards Isolde like Sorin and Ana are. But their interactions seem genuine, not a false friendship. But I think that’s more just his personality, not that he is the one who betrayed them.

It will be interesting to see who the culprit ends up being as we don’t know by the conclusion of the book. Someone did try to kill Isolde once already and failed. Well, many people have tried to kill her, but only one attempt got close. She also had to kill her father after she admitted to him that she was Adrian’s only weakness. This was heartwrenching because she truly loved her father, but she also wasn’t going to let him kill her either. She loves Adrian and has a laundry list of things to do. Including finding Ravena, who got away with the Book of Dis, a spellbook Isolde wrote in her previous life that contained dark magic including how to raise the dead. Not to mention freeing her mother’s people, who have been enslaved, something her father knew about and did nothing to stop or end it.

I’m curious to learn more about the vampires in this world since they have unique abilities like the witches. The magic system isn’t well established at this point as Isolde hasn’t been informed of how it works. Not to mention, is Adrian going to turn Isolde into a vampire? Or is that even possible considering she’s the balance in nature for him? He cannot die unless she does. We’ll have to find out when the next book comes out.

Love ya,

Mae Polzine

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