Title: Court of Shadows
Author: Miranda Honfleur
Pub. Date: February 1, 2018
Answers to who killed her family. A trial to death. Is the truth worth the risk?
Master Mage Rielle is counting the months to her wedding when an unexpected invitation arrives from Magehold—to compete for magister. The magister’s mantle has been her dream for over a decade, but rumors accuse Magehold of shadowy deeds, among them killing families to collect promising young novices.
Piracy has been rampant along the Emaurrian coast, and Jon has his hands full with Immortals attacking, his forces spread too thin to handle it all. When Magehold announces the winner of the Magister Trials will be granted one boon, Rielle is determined to ask for an end to the piracy that threatens so many others and harmed her own family… and to investigate whether Magehold was responsible. But when she arrives, she learns that the trials have only one rule: survive.
Magehold could easily stamp out the piracy claiming countless lives, and if she wins the trials, Rielle could see it done. But with the other mages competing to kill, strangers hunting her in the shadows, and mysterious factions working behind the scenes, trying to win the test could mean the end of her life. Will the trials give her the answers she seeks and the aid Emaurria sorely needs, or will they be her end?
This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook for this book, and I highly recommend it. Amanda Leigh Cobb is an excellent narrator and is quickly becoming a favorite with how well she brings characters to life. If you want to check out my reviews for the first two books you can do that here – Blade & Rose and By Dark Deeds.
I raged through this book. I take back legit everything I said about Brennan in my review for By Dark Deeds. His character is terrible and controlling and abusive. But I’m getting. Ahead of myself. It’s going to be a tad difficult to explain why I was so mad, and am still mad at his character, because there is so much tied up in why he acts the way he does.
But, let’s start with Rielle, since so much of Brennan’s actions are directly tied to her. She’s still traumatized, still trying to piece her life back together, still trying to make it day to day after everything she has lost. She’s incredibly strong, and her desire to live and keep living, to help those she can is at the forefront of her mind. She survived the lowest point of her life, and it’s her goal and desire to do whatever she can with the power she has to help those that are unable to help herself.
Brennan was there for her at the lowest point in her life. He helped hold her broken pieces until she was able to start putting herself back together. I don’t doubt that he loves her, but more so, he loves his idea of who she should be. This leads to some seriously toxic, red flag behavior. Rielle is still recovering and will be for a long time, but he was there for her when no one else was, he saved her, protected her, kept her safe and held her hand. So, of course Rielle is blind to the toxic masculinity streaming from Brennan. He loves her, she loves him and no one outside of the two of them understands their relationship – they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Red flags, right?
Brennan doesn’t listen to Rielle. That’s my biggest gripe. So much of what he does in this book is seeing red, rage inducing, but the fact that he does not listening makes me want to ram a sword straight through him. He wants his future for Rielle but refuses to hear what she wants. It’s a big point of contention in the book, and I was hoping and freaking praying that she would leave his ass in the end.
I was acutally really conflicted on how to rate this book. I’m really not lying when I say I raged during this book. I was furious at Brennan and even pretty annoyed at Rielle. Jon was the only one (out of those three) that I didn’t almost hate in this book. He’s resolved himself to be better, do better, to be himself. He saw that being King Jon wasn’t working, so he opted to be himself and do his job to the best of his abilities, and I think it pays off.
He’s also very much self-sacrificing, which is annoying, but understandable due to his circumstances. I’m still very much, Jon is Rielle’s endgame. He might not be thrilled with what she wants to do with her life, but he knows that is who she fundamentally is (even though she’s lost sight of that for the moment). He’ll do whatever he can, to make sure she lives out the future she wants for herself. He’s the supportive man we all want in our lives. There for us unconditionally and willing to support us to whatever end – after discussing it – but also just knowing who we are and what we want because he listened when we talked.
Since I was so rage-y at Brennan and Rielle – and Rielle is usually my favorite POV to read from, I found new favorites!
Leigh and Ambriel own my whole fucking soul. I found myself anticipating and anxiously waiting for Leigh’s POV moments so I could see the two of them again. I love Leigh and his bottomless ability to face off against things that would 100% kill the average person, the average mage. I also love how Ambriel is the cool, calm, endlessly loving one, and more or less just deals with Leigh’s chaos.
I legit cannot get enough.
And right behind those two, Liam is precious. He’s wonderful and supportive and just so wholesome. How he looks out for Rielle is perfect and I can’t wait for more of him.
As for the trials portion of this book – I’m a sucker for any king of plot line with trials that the MC has to win in order to move on. It’s another thing I legit cannot get enough of. And I loved the trials in this book. They felt very Triwizard Tournament-y and we’re so satisfying. The Great Divineness can kiss major ass, she sucks, and there’s a moment when Rielle faces off against her that felt like that Katniss scene. You know the one – where she shoots an arrow at the Capitol people, at the roasted pig and then drops the bow and bows. Then everything goes to shit, but, that’s the way of high fantasy books lol.
While emotionally I hated this book, because I just wanted to physically hurt Brennan and shake sense into Rielle, narratively this book was phenomenal. Miranda Honfleur is vastly underrated, and everyone needs to read this series. If you’re fan of the Throne of Glass Series, The Daevabad Trilogy or the Blood and Ash Series, then you’re probably going to enjoy this. The stakes are high, there’s magic, fantastical creatures, fighting, romance, confrontation, political intrigue and betrayal. You get sucked in, swept away and way too emotionally attached to the cast of characters. I definitely recommend everyone read this book.