I got hooked into reading the first title in this series, Kill the Queen, by its first two sentences: “The day of the royal massacre started out like any other. With me doing something completely, utterly useless.”
So you can imagine my amusement when I discovered that the second book, Protect the Prince, starts out: “The day of the first assassination attempt started out like any other. With me girding myself for battle.” So again, I was hooked, and again, I very much enjoyed reading this fantasy-style adventure.
But this is supposed to be a review, so here goes…
Where the first book was a riff on the classic minor-royal-gets-done-down-but-wins-in-the-end theme, this book is a riff on the classic adventure/quest theme. But just as with the first one, Estep does it so well that I didn’t mind the slightly trope-ish plot at all – I just settled in for what turned out to be a really fun ride.
As Protect the Prince starts out, Lady Everleigh (Evie) Saffira Winter Blair, the former seemingly very minor Bellonan royal who has fought her way to being queen, is finding out that staying the queen can be as challenging as becoming the queen. Even though she convincingly defeated the previous queen (the architect of the royal massacre) in the first book, it’s not that easy to actually govern a bunch of conniving nobles, to say nothing of having to deal with a cranky neighboring kingdom or two and a few assassins and spies.
And things get tougher when she heads for the next-door kingdom of Ardvari to try to negotiate an alliance. Her journey provides the context for some more assassination attempts, a particularly ingenious use of one more of her “completely, utterly useless” skills from the first book, and some misunderstood romantic angst that presumably (hopefully) is setting up the third book. I’m not sure there was a whole lot of deep new character development in this book, but there was a bit, and together with its over-the-top adventures, Protect the Prince kept me awake reading until late in the night.
Protect the Prince is the second in Jennifer Estep’s very enjoyable Crown of Shards series. You can see my review of the first book in the series, Kill the Queen, here, and I’ll be posting my review of the third book in the series soon as well. The books in this series also do go on sale occasionally, so keep an eye out for price drop posts here on my blog as well!