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The third installment of the Blood and Ash Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout was released called The Crown of Gilded Bones. I read it in a day as I had with the other two books in the series. I could not stop turning the pages in this book. Like the previous books, when I did my review on them, I’m going to be sharing spoilers. I have a lot of thoughts and don’t think I can adequately at this time do a proper review. I will give this book a rating of 4.25 out of 5 stars. In case you want to skip my thoughts to avoid the spoilers. It was good, the worldbuilding was spectacular of how things were handled. And I can’t wait for the next installment.
Bow Before Your Queen Or Bleed Before Her…
She’s been the victim and the survivor…
Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
The enemy and the warrior…
Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
A lover and heartmate…
But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.
And now she will become Queen…
- Published: April 20, 2021
- Page Count: 625
- Genre: Fantasy Romance
Thoughts (Includes Spoilers)
I’m not going to be going into every detail from the book, but the majority of them.
The Crown of Gilded Bones takes place immediately after the conclusion of A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire. Poppy has killed the individuals who attempted to stone her and learned that she has deity blood. Or at least that’s what was initially believed. It is revealed in the second chapter that Alastair was behind the attack (I FREAKING CALLED IT!), and doesn’t stop there. He has Casteel, Kieran, and the other wolven turned into statues temporarily in order to kidnap Poppy. He planned to give her back to the Ascended as he is part of a brotherhood that does not want a deity to take the throne again after Malec. We also learn Bennett wasn’t behind the attack, the poor kid was killed before they left for Atlantia and a shapeshifter was in his place. The same shapeshifter who was Commander Jansen.
Poppy is not saved until Alastair and Jansen attempt to exchange her with the Ascended. Casteel shows up with his father and the wolven. They manage to get her free of the deity bone bindings, but as Poppy kills Jansen as she promised he gravely wounds her. Casteel can’t handle the idea that his wife is dying, and attempts to Ascend her. Only she doesn’t Ascend into a vampry. Poppy is still very much herself afterward with green eyes, no fangs, and other than the initial thirst for blood she doesn’t need the substance. At least, I don’t think she does. Granted, she’s not opposed to drinking Casteel’s blood if she has to. This is one of the great mysteries of the book. We learn exactly what her heritage is. I’ll get more into that more towards the end as that’s where all the juicy bits are discovered.
Casteel and Poppy return to Atlantia after they’ve recovered from Poppy’s Ascension where there is more push back against Poppy. They are attacked and learn more of the brotherhood that wants to stop Poppy from claiming the crown. Casteel and Poppy get a history lesson from Casteel’s parents: Eloana and Valyn. Though it’s not the full history (more on that later). They suspect Poppy is Malec’s daughter, who has been imprisoned since the war in a tomb under the blood forest. The trees turned red because of god blood presence in Atlantia, it’s the same reason every time Poppy bleeds a blood tree grows. Her blood literally makes the trees when she gets injured. Also apparently she was never mortal, it’s literally not possible considering how strong her powers are. So, Poppy is immortal more so than Casteel or any Atlantian. She doesn’t learn the truth to her parentage until the end of the book. I’ll take about that at the end of this.
There are a bunch of cute moments between Casteel and Poppy, as well as Kieran. And a lot of sex scenes. Including one where they went to a wedding, and the wolven were getting it on where anyone can see. Poppy literally sits there and watches (Kieran with another wolven being one of the pair) before giving Casteel a blow job. They also learn more about each other including birthdays and Casteel tells Poppy about himself. The two also open up emotionally with each other, so it was sweet to see their relationship develop in a healthy way. And yes, Casteel drinks her blood from many different places (other than just her neck) and introduces her to the wonders of showers. Oh also the author of the journal that Casteel literally brings up all the time and takes with them is on their council. And Casteel never fails to bring up the sex diary to embarrass Poppy. Also, it was Miss Willa that sent Poppy to Casteel as she’s a seer and knew both of them needed each other.
Poppy decides to take the Gilded Crown after seeing her brother, Ian. He was Ascended but still retained some of his humanity. Enough so where he warns Poppy that she needs to get the guards (who are the dragon shapeshifters called the draken) from the King of Gods to help her defeat the Blood Crown. Casteel and Poppy are made the new King and Queen before they go see the King of Gods. Where it’s confirmed that Poppy is descended from the god. He tells her that she has the power within her already. Poppy takes this to mean that she doesn’t need the draken, and leaves the realm of the gods. Before they leave to meet with the Blood Crown, Casteel and Poppy make Kieran their advisor. Something Kieran is shocked about but accepts. That moment was hilarious as he brings up the joining. Not to elongate Poppy’s life but Casteel’s to match that of Poppy’s. They don’t do it, but I found that hilarious. Come on just give it to us… not just show us another couple during a wedding scene possibly doing that very thing.
It’s not reveal until the last few chapters that the Blood Crown Queen is actually Isbeth, when they go to meet with her to give her their terms. Something she rejects as Isbeth wants revenge over what Eloana did hundreds of years ago in the War of Two Kings. When I shared my predictions, I was half tempted to say I thought that was the case but didn’t. I kept going “nah that can’t be it.” But it was! Not only that but Isbeth is Poppy’s mother, not grandmother. Nor is she a vampry. When a god ascends an individual they don’t become that, but since her eyes were black Isbeth hid amongst them while she waited for the war to be over. Only Malec never came so she married another, and came up with an elaborate scheme to get back at Eloana.
It also turns out Poppy’s father is Malec’s twin brother, Ires, who has been imprisoned by the Blood Queen. Someone that Poppy has seen before multiple times as a caged cave cat (her father’s shifted form). That only makes me wonder what the hell Isbeth was showing Poppy as a kid. Like Poppy was shown at some point her father without knowing the cave cat was him. She’s not a great mom by any means and purely wanted Poppy for revenge against Eloana. As she planned to have Poppy married to Malik on her nineteenth birthday as her “Ascension”. Yes… Casteel’s brother. Who seemed very much on Isbeth’s side not in a cage tortured as Casteel was. Oh and Poppy isn’t a deity. Her father is a god, thus making her a god. Granted, she doesn’t fully know how to fight like a god which was made painfully clear when Isbeth attacked her after Poppy refused to hand over the crown to her mother. And resulted in Casteel being captured once again in exchange for Isbeth not killing Poppy.
Malik was helping Isbeth make abominations called Revenants. Third sons and daughters with a special gene when Ascended by the promised prince could turn into creatures that cannot be killed. They can be killed any number of ways, but will always come back whole and well. The only thing that can kill them is the fire of the gods (i.e. the guards of the Gods, draken… the very thing Poppy did not get the first time she went to the realm of the gods). Malik clearly did not get the same treatment as Casteel, as he is healthy and walking around at Isbeth’s side. Casteel did everything for his brother, and his brother ultimately didn’t care. He helps Isbeth capture Casteel according to Kieran when Poppy wakes up. Not to mention Malik states he learned the truth, so he sided against his parents. Not that I fully blame him for being upset over what Eloana did, but come on the Ascended are killing children, they are oppressive and cruel, and have no problem turning their citizens into craven (blood-thirsty corpses). Even if Eloana was wrong, you don’t side with that. Something Poppy very clearly points out when she later talks with Eloana.
I have to say the ending was chef kiss. Poppy has the Blood Crown King killed as a message for her mother and keeps his crown for herself. She has the draken on her side and is prepared to wipe out every Ascended until Isbeth is dead. Not just for taking her husband, but for killing her brother (who isn’t her brother at all) and the release of her father (she learns Ires is her father from the draken). The last one was something Poppy had wanted to do before but didn’t get to due to Isbeth trying to kill her. And it was the condition the draken wanted in order for them to help her. They wanted the god released so the Consort (Poppy’s grandmother) could finally wake. Nyktos and the other gods wake from time to time, but the Consort has not since her children are gone. Poppy also refuses to let anyone talk down to her after learning she’s a god, and has a talk with both of Casteel’s parents. One, she’s furious and rightfully so at Eloana for not telling them that the Blood Queen was Isbeth. Something SHE KNEW about the entire time, but didn’t want anyone else to know as she was ashamed that Isbeth won. And in a way she had. Not only that but Eloana had Malec’s and Isbeth’s son (Poppy’s half-brother) by Alastair, which is the whole reason Isbeth is having fun torturing and using Malik & Casteel. Valyn doesn’t know that piece of information. Two, she agrees to kill Malik at Casteel’s father’s request after he says he’s proud that she’s his daughter-in-law. It was a sweet moment.
I feel so bad for Casteel, literally the night before he gets captured he confesses to Poppy that sometimes he doesn’t believe he’s real or a person after everything that happened to him the last time he was held by the Blood Crown. And that’s going to happen all over again, as Isbeth isn’t going to treat him like Malik. She calls him her favorite pet, which is just so wrong. I can’t wait for Poppy vs. Isbeth in the next book. I think worldbuilding time is finally over and now its time for the epic showdown between the two Queens. Though maybe I’m wrong and just a bit bloodthirsty over what happened at the end of the book.
UGHHHH… now to wait on the next book.
I know Jennifer L. Armentrout is releasing a book on the King of Gods with his Consort. It will be interesting to learn her name and more about their children: Malec and Ires. Since we know a bit about Malec, but not a whole lot about Poppy’s father. Granted, it’s not going to tell us much about what’s happening in Blood and Ash series. But since I think worldbuilding has concluded as far as I think it will go in the main series, the backstory will be a nice thing to read to tie over until the fourth book.
There are still two more books in the main series, so I’m curious how those are going to play out. Since it seems like Poppy vs. Isbeth is the end, but maybe she gets Casteel back in book four and the face-off between the Queens is book five. I could be wrong. Unless there’s another twist. Which there could be since the King of Gods series is apparently going to tie into the Blood and Ash series more so than just the fact that’s Poppy’s grandfather.
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