Book Review: Crush the King (Crown of Shards #3)

Title: Crush the King

Author: Jennifer Estep

Pub. Date: March 17, 2020

Pages: 416

Pub: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


A fierce gladiator queen must face off against her enemies in an epic battle in this next thrilling installment of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards series—an action-packed adventure full of magic, murderous machinations, courtly intrigue, and pulse-pounding romance.

Queen Everleigh Blair of Bellona has survived the mass murder of the royal family, become a fearsome warrior trained by an elite gladiator troupe, and unleashed her ability to destroy magic. After surviving yet another assassination attempt orchestrated by the conniving king of Morta, Evie has had enough. It’s time to turn the tables and take the fight to her enemies. 

There is no better opportunity to strike than during the Regalia Games, a time when warriors, nobles, and royals from all the kingdoms come together to compete in various sporting events. With the help of her loyal friends, Evie goes on the attack at the Regalia, but things don’t turn out the way she hopes. Soon, she is facing a terrifying new threat, and she will have to dig deep and learn even more about her growing magic if she has any chance of defeating her foes.

Because to secure her throne and ensure her kingdom’s survival, Evie must think like a true Bellonan: she must outsmart and outwit her enemies . . . and crush the king.

This will be a spoiler free review, but as it’s the last in the trilogy, I may vaguely reference some things that happened in books 1 and 2.  I listened to the audiobook via Audible. If you’re interested, you can check out my reviews for Kill the Queen and Protect the Prince. This trilogy has become one of my favorites and the world and characters have been sitting in the back of my mind since I finished Crush the King last Wednesday. I’m so glad that I have an eARC of Capture the Crown – the first book in a spin off series. I need more of this world, these characters.


I might just have to go order the rest of the books of Amazon, because I need to own them. I feel like this book (the whole trilogy really) could potentially throw me into a reading slump, I loved it so much. I legit feel lost without the characters.

This last book – Crush the King – was so fucking epic. The first two books have been good, super enjoyable and I’ve inhaled them, but this last book? Cinematic. Epic. Intense. Evie is a fucking badass, and I thought she’d come into her power before?

Oh Hell No.

She owned the page and every moment on them. Seeing her face off against the other rules, sway them, hold her own against various assassins and other threats, jfc, she’s a bad ass. The way she handles Maximus – it’s flawless. Hell, the way she handles Maven – and the long game…phew.

Evie pulls it off seamlessly and it’s amazing.

I also loved that we got to see her past – events that helped shape her and led her to where she is now. They’re not happy memories, but terrible traumatic ones, but they feed her desire to win, the crush the king, to make Bellona strong, to protect its people. It was just nice to get to see more of what helped shape her.

And then there’s Sully and omfg I loved him from the moment he stepped onto the page. But now that feelings are out in the open, he’s even more wonderful. He’s soft and sweet, and while he doesn’t necessarily like that Evie takes risks, he supports her. He knows that she can handle herself. The way he dotes and flirts is just so cute – I love him.

The cast was just great all around. I loved getting to meet and learn a bit about the other rulers, to see how the various dynamics work out. There were some pretty satisfying moments with all of them, and all those moments were led by Evie’s defiance.

Maximus was delightful – in the way that all well-crafted villains are. Did he deserve the ending he got – fuck yes. But the journey Evie took him on along the way was so much fun. I enjoyed it. Their interactions were brilliants and I’m about to devolve in to a puddle of “just pick these books up and read them, because omfg”.

Like, I just want to throw this series at you and say READ IT.

I said it before, this book was so cinematic – the whole thing played out in my head. There were large chunks of time where I forgot that I wasn’t actually in the book. It’s so immersive, so intense and so good, I forgot about reality. You just get swept away by the characters, the world, the high stakes and the politics of it all. It’s truly an escape.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to love this series nearly as much as I do – like, it’s a new favorite. I bought the first book to take with me to Apollycon last year before it was cancelled. Then I figured that since I bought it, I should read it – so I downloaded the audiobook. Then I impulsively requested Capture the Crown on NetGalley and was approved. I figured I should finish the trilogy since I’d been approved, and knowing it was a spin off, I felt obligated to read what came before.

Thank goodness I did, otherwise I would be seriously missing out.

I love this trilogy and highly recommend it.  

I think the only other series to make me feel this bereft after finishing them are Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses and From Blood and Ash. I mean, I feel a bit lost.  This was hands down the best book in the trilogy – Evie seriously comes into her own and she’s a badass Queen. Watching her grow and seeing her character development is incredible.

And what’s even more incredible, while she has changed – she’s had to, to survive – through it all, the core of who she is remains the same. It’s why she’s such an incredible Queen.

I honestly can’t recommend this trilogy enough. It was so good, a really pleasant surprise and everyone should pick it up.

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