The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen is something that’s been on my TBR for a hot minute, and I finally got around to reading it. No spoilers, this book was an interesting read. It goes back and forth between Lara’s and Aren’s POVs to tell the events of the story. Lara was set to the Bridge Kingdom to act as a spy, so her father could invade and take control over the bridge (the only true route for trade between Northern and Southern countries). However, during the course of the book, she learns that not everything she was raised to believe is true. It’s a compelling and intense story from start to finish.
This is considered a new adult book series with the first two books focused around Lara and Aren, while the third book focuses on one of Lara’s half-brothers and other events happening in the same world as the first two in the series. So, there’s no fade to black for sexual scenes but I wouldn’t say it’s extremely graphic or descriptive either. At least, not in the first book of the series which is the focus of this post.
A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.
The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara’s homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.
Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.
- Published: August 13, 2019
- Page Count: 354 pages
- Genre: Fantasy
Thoughts on The Bridge Kingdom (Spoilers)
Lara was raised on the belief that The Bridge Kingdom (Ithicana) was preventing her nation of Maridrina from receiving goods like cattle and grain (food), so her people have been starving. She along with twenty of her sisters were taken at a young age by her father to a compound where they were trained to become assassins and spies all with the intention that one of them would become the Queen of Ithicana as part of a fifteen-year treaty their nations had. However, Lara learns that her father is going to murder everyone but the chosen sister and comes up with a plan to ensure she is selected while protecting her sisters’ lives by faking their deaths.
However, once she’s married to Aren she learns that things are not as they seem. Yes, Maridrina is being starved but it is not by the actions of Ithicana but of the King of Maridrina. He could’ve picked food to get exclusive and tax-free rights over the bridge for that selected good, but he chose weapons for his war against a neighboring kingdom instead. Lara doesn’t learn this however until after she has comprised a hidden letter detailing how one can overtake the bridge. However, she thought she had destroyed every last copy of that damning information once she learned the truth. But Aren had already sent a letter with that secret message to the King of Maridrina. Effectively resulted in her becoming a traitor to Ithicana even though all she wanted at that point was to protect it.
The story held my attention at every turn and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. I’m curious how Aren and Lara are going to reconcile their relationship, as Aren does not believe Lara after it’s revealed she wrote that hidden message. It doesn’t help that Lara kept the truth about her sisters a secret, granted she did so in the event that it was discovered her sisters weren’t actually dead and that her father would hunt them down. And so she could call in their life debt if she needed to in the event that Aren turned against her. She never fully believed that she was forgiven after Aren discovered she was a spy. Even though the two of them fell in love, he completely opened up his kingdom to her.
I hope her taking down her father in the next book is what’s needed to repair that relationship. But I also don’t see how one could move past those things. Even if she didn’t mean to betray Ithicana, she did. She was sent there as a spy, she did tell Maridrina effectively how to take control of the bridge and destroy all the defenses of Ithicana, and she did keep secrets from Aren even after he learned she was a spy. At any point, she could’ve mentioned the letters that she tried to destroy. She also could’ve been way sooner asked by Ithicana was starving her people, and Aren probably would’ve told her the truth. A lot of things could’ve been done differently by the characters to prevent what happened in the end. So, there’s a lot of miscommunication but whereas I normally hate that in books, the way it plays out in The Bridge Kingdom is believable and adds a lot of tension and suspense. Especially as Aren sends the letter with the hidden plot and nothing comes of it for months. Yet, you know in the back of your head the invasion has to be coming at some point in the near future.
Overall, I would give The Bridge Kingdom a 4-star rating out of 5.
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