Book Review: Conquer the Kingdom 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.

Conquer the Kingdom by Jennifer Estep

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 3 of Gargoyle Queen

Publisher: Harper Voyager (March 7, 2023)

Length: 432 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Even though deep down I know these books aren’t intended to be much more than guilty pleasure reads or brain candy, this third and final installment of the Gargoyle Queen probably could have used a bit more oomph. That said, I thought Conquer the Kingdom was still a very entertaining and overall satisfying ending to this romance and adventure-infused fantasy trilogy.

In the wake of the events at the end of Tear Down the Throne, our protagonist the crown princess Gemma Ripley of Andvari is on the hunt for a dangerous enemy who has vowed to destroy her kingdom. But even with her powerful mind magier powers and the help of her friend and spymistress Reiko, the two them have not been able to track down the scheming Milo Morricone.

However, an opportunity to lure him in may present itself in the coming days, with the Sword and Shield gladiatorial tournament being held soon in the capital city of Glanzen. At the same time, the event also brings much risk to Gemma amidst an influx of visiting strangers. Already she has to watch her back with Queen Maeven of Morta, who has already tried to take her down, but as Milo’s mother, she may also be the key to understanding the enemy’s diabolical plans. Meanwhile, Gemma’s relationship with Maeven’s other son Leonidas deepens, creating another set of problems as their future together becomes uncertain. After all, Leonidas still has a duty to his own people, and while he may have Gemma’s love and trust, it will be harder to win over the rest of Andvari.

Like the previous books, Conquer the Kingdom was a fun romp, though the action was definitely heavier on the back-end, leaving the first two thirds of the novel relatively uneventful. Throughout the series, Gemma has faced countless challenges and many foes, and because of this I had expected the conflict to be somewhat bigger and more significant. Instead, for most the story Gemma occupies herself with trying to find Milo, and when she isn’t making any headway on that front, the narrative is mostly filled with idle conversation with few highlights.

Still, as a final installment, it achieved the purpose of wrapping up loose ends and tying up the storylines for the various characters. Even though most of the plot lacked intensity, the author did a good job capturing the complexities of the different relationships for Gemma, including her romantic one with Leonidas and her adversarial one with Queen Maeven. Side plots also explored supporting characters like Reiko and Kai, and of course the series’ unique and fascinating creatures like the gargoyles and strix.

But by far the best and most exciting part of the novel came near the end with a rescue mission that culminated in an epic showdown, making up for the slower start. Not only was it an explosive way to conclude the trilogy, but the finale also provides an emotional and satisfying sendoff for this cast of memorable characters, rewarding readers with feel-good vibes. This makes The Gargoyle Queen a great choice for fantasy fans who are perhaps looking for something lighter and more casual. While the series has never pretended to be anything more or anything less, I do love how accessible it is without sacrificing any character development or the depth of their relationships.

When I think back to my first book by Jennifer Estep, which was Kill the Queen, I find it amazing that we’ve now come to the end of her second trilogy set in this world. While I have no clue whether she’ll follow it up with a third, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if another spinoff does come to pass, since clearly there are still so many stories in this Crown of Shards/Gargoyle Queen universe still waiting to be told. If that happens, I know I’ll be reading.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Capture the Crown (Book 1)
Review of Tear Down the Throne (Book 2)

7 Comments on “Book Review: Conquer the Kingdom by Jennifer Estep”

  1. Oooh nice! I can’t wait to read this one myself! This series has been really fun and I’m excited to see how it ends! Glad to see you enjoyed it for the most part! Sad it didn’t have the same kind of fireworks as previously done but glad it was still enjoyable!


  2. Ah… I’m allll about the guilty pleasure books right now! I’ve read several Estep books, all mid-series and enjoyed them all. So it would be a good idea to read a complete series to do the author justice! Thank you for sharing:)>


  3. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup 03/19/23: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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