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The fourth installment of the Blood and Ash Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout was released called The War of Two Queen. I read it in a day… literally stayed up all night unable to put the book down. While I could do a proper review, I haven’t done so with the rest of the series. I have a lot of thoughts I wanted to share, which means I’m going to go heavy into spoilers, especially regarding the last few chapters of the book.
So, here’s my quick spoiler-free review:
I loved this book and would give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5 stars. This book returns to the fantasy elements over the romance ones. While the romance elements are still there, they aren’t as heavy as the second and third books in the series. Most of the focus is on the plot of moving the world forward. From the war between Poppy and Isbeth, rescuing Casteel, and the prophecy that hangs over everyone. There are more secrets revealed that will have lasting effects on the story moving forward. There will be one more book in the series and I’m curious how things are going to wrap up in it.
From the desperation of golden crowns…
Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.
And born of mortal flesh…
Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.
A great primal power rises…
Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.
As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.
- Published: March 15, 2022
- Page Count: 654
- Genre: Fantasy Romance
Spoiler Heavy Thoughts on The War of Two Queens
I’m not going to be going into every detail from the book, but the majority of them. Most of them are going to focus on the end of the book as it sets up for the final book of the series.
The main elements that were explored in this book were:
- Poppy has a sister named Millicent, who failed to ascend (was given weakened blood from Casteel that was not enough to help her transition) and was turned into a revenant to save her life by Isbeth with the help of Callum (we don’t know exactly who he is but he’s been around since Kolis). This was revealed by Millicent to Casteel, when she went to him and told him that soon he would be the only one that could kill/stop Poppy. That was my first and main clue that she was a Primal not just a god, it’s the only weakness of Nyktos.
- Malik is the heartmate of Millicent and though the two are not together, he will not abandon her. Which is the only reason he’s stayed near Isbeth (was kind of glad he hadn’t sided with the vampyr, granted that still doesn’t put him on Casteel/Poppy’s side yet). We don’t know much about their relationship, only that Malik knows they are heartmates but Millicent apparently doesn’t. He’s down countless things to protect her that she’s not aware of. And according to conversations with Malik we are led to believe she depises him to some extent.
- Casteel is imprisoned then rescued from Isbeth… and she cut of his left pointer finger then sent it to Poppy with his wedding ring. He was captured for around 45 days and fell into bloodlust shortly before being freed by Poppy, Kieran, and Reaver with the help of Malik. They were able to pull him out of it soon thereafter, when Malik reveals he has been helping and working with Descenters under the name Elian (his middle name).
- THE JOINING! Casteel, Poppy, and Kieran perform the Joining in order to save Kieran’s save after he’s cursed. But also so Poppy doesn’t have to worry about them dying as easily. Before you get all worked up, Poppy was beyond unobservant so while there’s detail you don’t know whether it’s Kieran or Casteel doing each thing (hands, kissing, pleasure, etc.). Come on, the one scene that would be the steamiest and we’re treated to next to no details after the blood sharing. It was the second it went from sharing blood to sexual the details were switched off.
- Side note: Apparently a lot of people aren’t happy that Kieran and Poppy developed a romantic relationship. They never acted on it until Casteel returned and he gave the green light, when he’s involved. Up until that point they were just close as friends, and I never saw it has romantic until they started to take the idea of doing the Joining seriously. Plus, all of them are insanely close and we saw their relationship growing as a trio throughout all the books. Maybe it’s because I’ve read a lot of reverse harem books, I don’t mind the direction it went. Not to mention it’s something the fans previously were demanding of JLA for two books.
- Poppy is not the Harbinger. I mean she is but isn’t. She isn’t death and destruction. But she is the bringer of it when she brings Malec to Isbeth. This allows Isbeth to reawaken Kolis from his entombment where children have been dropped in the Rites to feed him blood. While he is stopped from fully taking form, he is awake again along with every other God and Goddess.
- Poppy is a Primal. She’s revealed to be the first primal born since Nyktos and Seraphina, but she has to go through the Culling so she’s not fully in that final form. But we see elements of Nyktos that if you read the Flesh and Fire series would recognize: shadows and cold feeling. We also see in the final two chapters of the book that she completes this process and acquires wings similar to Nyktos made of essence. Also, I really want to know if Poppy can shift now that she’s finished the Culling. She has wings. Nyktos could become a wolf and her father could become a cave cat… did she inherit that ability too? We don’t know yet.
- Apparently, Malec and Ires were forbidden from having children at the risk of restarting the birth of Primals since it would allow Kolis to be freed. Only the birth of a female would cause that to happen, which is why neither brother was a Primal while Poppy was. Though any child born of their bloodline afterwards would be a Primal, meaning Poppy’s and Casteel’s children would be Primals. Likely why Seraphina and Nyktos refused the heartmate trials for Malec and Isbeth. We still haven’t been told the exact reason, but I have a feeling it was in part because any child was a risk of restarting the process if they were born a girl.
- The truth is revealed regarding Seraphina and Nyktos. I mean if you read the Flesh and Fire series you would already know that Nyktos is not the Primal of Life and Death. He’s a Primal of Death, but not the true Primal of anything. Seraphina, however, is the Primal of Life. But this is the first time any of the characters from the Blood and Ash series are learning this.
- Malec is recovered. I say this as in Poppy goes and gets him out of the Blood Forest then hands him over to Isbeth, who then attempts to murder him. It’s only because of Poppy with the help of Seraphina that she was unsuccessful. Reaver returns him to Seraphina and Nyktos, so he’s alive but still unconscious.
- The libration of Solis. I say this but as we learn in the book, most individuals were killed before the cities were freed by Poppy’s army. Still they took the majority of the cities and anyone who didn’t fight were spared. Not only that but Isbeth was killed. Poppy had help from Seraphina in killing her, after she muttered Seraphina’s name remembering what the Consort once told her. There were some lost in the war, but anyone lost in the final battle were brought back. It was a real Breaking Dawn Part II moment (movie not the book). We saw the majority of individuals get killed including Delano, Hisa, Naill, Emil, Sage, and Rune (along with others), only for them to be brought back along with soliders on the Blood Crown side (for balance reasons).
Other smaller details that were revealed or happened:
- Tawny awakens. Oh, I love Tawny. She is such a fun character. I love how she throws sass at Casteel when he returns. She also reveals that Vikter was a protector of Poppy, while Leopold was Isbeth’s before he helped Cora take Poppy away with Ian. We’re not entirely sure what Tawny is only that she nearly died and now has colorless eyes and white hair.
- Malik was the Dark One. He tried to kill Poppy during the night of the Craven attack that resulted in her scars. But he couldn’t go through with it, resulting in him rescuing her and returning her to Isbeth. Apparently, he wanted to stop the prophecy even though he was misguided in the meaning of the Harbringer. However, he is not the individual with the creepy rhyme that haunts Poppy… that belongs to Kolis. But Malik is responsible for the years of nightmares that plagued Poppy.
- The wolven bone in Poppy’s dagger was Preela’s, Malik’s bonded wolven and Delano’s sister. She was killed in front of Malik and seven of her bones were turned into bloodstone daggers. Malik recovered all but the one that Poppy has. It was given to Leopold and later ended up with Vikter, who gifted it to Poppy on her sixteenth birthday.
- We also learn that Casteel’s father (Valyn) was not fully aware of Isbeth’s true identity and most details until around the time Malik was captured. He knew about the death of Malec’s son, but not that Isbeth was the Blood Queen. Nor that she was a false god. While it doesn’t excuse his actions, since he didn’t reveal the truth to Casteel or Poppy and that resulted in a world of hurt for everyone involved. It’ll be interesting to see how Poppy, Casteel, and Malik move forward with Valyn and Eloana since their secrets have been revealed.
I’m looking forward to seeing where the final book in the series takes the characters. Especially since Poppy is now fully a Primal. As Nektas states she’s the “Primal of Blood and Bone, the Primal of Life.” Though she’s not the true Primal of Life yet, Seraphina still holds that title. Jadis we know is still alive and Ires will be freed in the next book. Isbeth may have claimed he was a willing participant in the creation of both Millicent and Poppy, but we don’t know from his perspective what happened. Only he went to the mortal realm after Malec became unconscious then was trapped in a cage that nullified his powers.
Also, it will be interesting to see a new antagonist in this series now that Isbeth is dead. Kolis is the antagonist of Flesh and Fire series so we know a bit about the things he will do. But we still have yet to fully meet him in either series. He’s been a mention thus far. Not to mention, who the hell is Callum. We know he’s a Revenant but that’s it. I don’t recall him from A Shadow in the Ember. Most of those individuals were killed by Nyktos when they moved against Seraphina, but I also didn’t commit their names to memory. But he seems important since he taught Isbeth how to make more of him. Not to mention, I have a feeling he had a hand in Isbeth learning about Kolis after Malec and her son were taken from her. I’m still surprised she killed Malec, but I guess it was either Malec or Poppy and she’s already mourned Malec for years so it makes sense in a way why she chose him.
I’m really curious if Millicent will team up with Poppy. We know her sister fled after the battle and Malik went after her, but she seemed shocked to learn that her mother intended to murder her to raise Kolis. I mean it would’ve been Poppy had Millicent not been a failure. Which honestly was Isbeth’s fault. She waited until Casteel was weak to use his blood for Millicent’s Ascension, and couldn’t use Ires’s blood since his powers were nullified in his cage. Still, Millicent learned that her mother fully intended to kill her and that was her sole purpose of being born. The same goes for Poppy. That cannot be easy to process. I hope the sisters somehow manage to come to mutual terms in the wake of everything since Millicent didn’t agree with the things Isbeth was doing. At least, according to Malik.
If you read this book, what did you think? Any elements you were surprised by or what do you think of the events that happened?
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