Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Kill the Queen
(Crown of Shards #1)
by Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication date:Oct. 2, 2018
Genre: Fantasy

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.



I have to say, the world that Estep created is definitely rich with a lot of world building. However, I found myself a little bored a lot of the time. The beginning started off rather slow for me and only really picked up once Evie was with the Black Swan troupe. I started to become interested in the story once Evie is with the group, training to fight and earning her keep. If I’m being completely honest, it wasn’t because of Evie, but because of Paloma. Paloma is a fellow gladiator who just had this presence that immediately drew me in. There was just something about her that was intriguing, and I kind of wish the story was hers instead of Evie’s.

Now, maybe my issue with Evie was that she just seemed so stubborn. I get that her entire family was just massacred, but when someone tells you something with their dying breath… you should probably take it to heart. Does Evie do that? Eh, sort of. She seeks out Selinda and joins her troupe but doesn’t actually take her aunt’s advice in seeking help from Selinda. Instead she makes up a fake background and pretends she’s just some random runaway. I feel like if she had just told Selinda who she truly was and what was going on, this story would have moved along a lot quicker. I get it, she wasn’t sure who she could trust, but again… a woman’s dying breath tells you to save the kingdom, and seek someone out. What about that makes you think you are being led to a trap?

Another issue I had with this book was the romance. I felt like the romance was there just for romance sake. It didn’t have any meat to it. It was your typical trainer/trainee relationship, but I never really felt that spark between the two characters. I would have been completely okay if it didn’t even exist… and you guys know how much I love my romances. I just didn’t feel like it added anything to the story or that it even felt tangible.

I have really enjoyed this author’s previous work, but this one just didn’t work for me. I just never fully connected with the story and I kind of found myself skimming the pages instead of really absorbing it. I love the idea of this series, but I just don’t think it’s for me. Sorry, Evie, but I wish you the best of luck!



4 Thoughts on “Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

  1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did, but I totally see where you’re coming from. It is very slow moving, but I didn’t mind that. I found my biggest issue (and I forgot to even mention this in my review – some blogger I am!) was that I found Evie’s motivation to be VERY YA. I can’t remember my thoughts on the romance, but I’m sure I’ll be refreshed when I pick the second book up.

    Great review!

  2. I rated this between 3.5 stars and 4 but because I loved the supporting cast. Evie was frustrating and everyone else seemed so much more interesting. Yeah – the romance was…eh.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

  3. Too bad – this one sounded promising, but I’m not a big fantasy reader and I need a fast moving plot!

  4. Ergs. I think I would have had a struggle with a bunch of that, too. That’s too bad.

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