Book Review: Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 2 of Crown of Shards
Publisher: Harper Voyager (July 2, 2019)
Length: 448 pages
Last year’s Kill the Queen was my first book I ever read by Jennifer Estep and it had me hooked! I was pleased to be back into this world with Protect the Prince and was looking forward to seeing where she will take the characters and story next. If you haven’t caught up to this point yet, be aware as this review may contain spoilers for the first book.
Last time we saw Everleigh “Evie” Blair, she had just saved the kingdom from a usurper and now finds herself ruling as Bellona’s new queen. But even though she was never meant for the role, Evie isn’t stupid; she has spent her whole life in the halls of the palace, watching and learning the ways of the royal court even as the other nobles went about their lives ignoring her. Now they want her off the throne, but so far Evie has succeeded in holding her own.
But apparently Evie has underestimated how badly her enemies want her gone, even going as far as to send an assassin after her. Still, Evie will not be cowed. Despite the increased threat levels, she decides to go ahead with a scheduled diplomatic visit to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari, with whom she hopes to secure a new alliance. But the Andvarian king, still angry and demanding retribution for what happened during the Seven Spire massacre, is a tough nut to crack.
Then there’s the situation with Lucas Sullivan. The sexual tension is thicker than ever between them, but they’re unable to act upon it. In spite of everything, he is still a bastard prince, and now that Evie is queen, she will be expected to marry someone approved by the nobility and produce an heir—and that someone is definitely not Sullivan. Evie is forced to make some tough decisions, going against her true desires. Initially concerned about how much romance would feature in this sequel, I was actually relieved to find that it is well balanced with the rest of the story. What I enjoyed most about Kill the Queen was the its crossover appeal, hitting that sweet spot between romance and epic fantasy, and Protect the Prince continues this trend.
And yes, while I missed some of the gladiator action from the first book, I think the courtly intrigues and the developing political conflicts in and around Bellona made up for some of the slower pacing. There’s less intensity in the plot, but there’s still a lot going on—poor Evie can’t seem to stay out of trouble, but it’s not always her fault. Between working on figuring out who wants to kill her and trying not to start a diplomatic incident with Andvari, she’s got her work cut out for her. With all these different threads, Protect the Prince still managed to move at a fast clip and ended up being a highly entertaining read.
Then there’s the magic! I wanted more detail about the magic system in the first book (which was somewhat light on the world-building) and I got my wish here. We get a closer look at Evie’s particular powers, and I love how she uses them to her advantage against her enemies and the smug nobility who think they can pull the wool over her eyes.
Speaking of Evie, I’m also enjoying her character development. She’s strong, independent, and prefers to solve her own problems even if it means turning down help freely given, or it could get her killed. As a protagonist, she’s very likeable and her charisma helps carry the story. I like that she’s no pushover and can stand up for herself even against pretty much the entire court. She has a long memory and remembers who was kind to her, who was cruel, and what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are—all very good things to know, now that she’s queen.
The series so far is still littered with all kinds of fantasy tropes, but surprisingly, I don’t have a problem with it. The truth is, it gives these books a certain kind of charm, and I love being able to kick back with something light and fun. I also have a feeling Estep is working on the bigger picture, building towards something even better. I look forward to reading the next book.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Kill the Queen (Book 1)