Kingsbane – Claire Legrand

Title: Kingsbane
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Empirium #2
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: May 21st, 2019 (Sourcebooks Fire)

Synopsis: Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.
Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted by embracing her mother’s power or rejecting it forever.

Rielle may have succeeded in her trials and the church has accepted her as Sun Queen, but many still have their doubts. A visit to the Gate reveals that it is weakening, and it will take the seven original castings of the saints to repair it, all of which are well hidden, and those who guard them have a less than favourable opinion of Rielle. A thousand years in the future, Eliana struggles with revelation of her past – she is the daughter of the Blood Queen Rielle, and more than anything, she fears that she is destined to become like her.

“You are mightier even than your power.
In it lies the capacity for both destruction and creation,
and only you can decide how to guide it.”

If you haven’t gotten around to reading this book yet, mild spoilers ahead. All right, so how do I put this? I very much wanted to throw something at Rielle for most of this book. Even after seeing how dangerous her power can be and knowing that she had a hand in the death of King Bastien and her father, no matter the circumstances, she is still so reckless when it comes to her power. Suffice to say, the whole Sun Queen thing has definitely gone to her head. And then we come to all the lies she’s telling poor Audric who trusts her (he deserves so much better). Corien is playing her like a fiddle and she knows it, and in my opinion, she isn’t trying all that hard to resist. Ludivine on the other hand, is mostly doing her best to rein in and protect Rielle in this book. But of course, such secrets can’t be hidden for long and everything comes out at the worst possible time. Basically, any sympathy I had for Rielle in Furyborn is completely gone, but my irritation with the character aside, I am very impressed with how perfectly imperfect Rielle is turning out to be – the fear and hurt inside her and the burden of expectations placed on her all grow and weigh down on her throughout the book until, as it was bound to, it finally snaps, turning to anger in the face of betrayal and heartbreak. Rielle’s arc beautifully illustrates the mistake of labelling things – and people – in black and white, and how this, her inflated sense of self-importance aside, leads to her taking the first steps onto the path to becoming the Blood Queen.

“We are more than what’s been done to us.
We are more then our anger.”

Where Rielle now glories in her power, Eliana fears it. After her stunt in Astavar, she is terrified of the destruction her power has the potential to cause and above all that she might turn out to be just like Rielle. But her friend Navi has not escaped from Fidelia unscathed, and the Crawler experiments that were performed on her are slowly destroying her – unless Eliana can find a way to control her power in time to find an antidote. Eliana really found her voice in this book, and the contrasts to Rielle continue as she too struggles with the labels of good and bad. And Simon…well, I’d be completely fangirling over his character right now – were it not for that twist at the end (which I’m still trying to rationalize with some really wild theories by the way). But that aside, learning more about Simon’s past, both in Old Celdaria and in the future world, was very interesting. Threading and time travel hold so much potential, and Kingsbane barely scratched the surface. I was very glad that this wasn’t just used as a fix-all plot device, but I’m also curious to see exactly what effect Eliana’s brief encounter with Rielle (and Corien) will have in the future – and just how much it has already changed for Eliana.

The only small downside I want to mention is the sudden POV change to outside characters. While it was interesting to get inside the heads of some of the others, it was very jarring when I was used to the rhythm of switching only between Rielle and Eliana’s POVs.

Where in Furyborn, I didn’t really find myself connecting with the main characters, Kingsbane turned that around completely, and the characters really came to life alongside an engrossing and thrilling plot. Things in Old Celdaria are looking particularly grim and it is no better on Eliana’s end, but I’m looking forward to Rielle and Eliana’s next meeting with the suspenseful stage that has been set for book three. Kingsbane is an intricate, captivating narrative well on its way to being an epic fantasy and without doubt, one of the most intense books I’ve read this year. Highly recommended!

What did you think of this book? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:

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