A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kingsbane is author Claire Legrand's second installment in her best-selling Empirium trilogy, which started with Furyborn. Picking up where Furyborn left off, this next chapter finds magical women warriors Rielle and Eliana learning more about how to wield their powers and abilities in two different timelines 1,000 years apart. Like its predecessor, Kingsbane features plenty of violence (from personal killings to war battles between humans and angels) and intense romance and sexuality (there are several more overt sex scenes than in the first book). Mature high school YA readers who enjoy epic fantasy romance thrillers will be drawn to Legrand's spellbinding (and long!) series.
What's the story?
Claire Legrand's massive sequel KINGSBANE picks up after Furyborn, with Rielle's story continuing her slow descent into becoming Blood Queen, and a millennium later, her daughter Eliana starting to come to terms with her lineage and her mission to travel to the past to stop her mother's seemingly catastrophic acts. Rielle, her love Prince Audric, and their best friend Ludivine attempt to convince neighboring kingdoms to support Rielle as the Sun Queen and to join them as allies against the threat of Corien and his advancing angel army. Eliana, meanwhile, works with Simon to understand how to control her power, tries to rescue and protect her brother and friends, and becomes the beacon of a rebellion against the angel overlords who oppress humanity.
Is it any good?
Despite its uneven pacing and hefty page count, Legrand's intense and steamy second installment sets up the ultimate showdown between the Sun Queen, Blood Queen, and those killer angels. The reason for the star downgrade between Furyborn and Kingsbane isn't the extra 90 pages but the way Rielle's story arc becomes tiresome and repetitive, considering readers already know she eventually chooses the dark side. She makes the same mistakes over and over and hurts the people she claims to genuinely love only to hold it against them when they don't understand her decisions. Eliana, who was less compelling in the original, is more interesting in this installment, as she learns to wield her power, opens her heart to a new love, prepares for her mission, and internalizes that she doesn't have to follow in her infamous mother's footsteps.
As for the romance, Legrand, like Sarah Maas and Cassandra Clare, writes about love and sex in an incredibly candid way, and while there are some "fade to black" moments, most of the love scenes include detailed descriptions of passion and desire. Younger teen readers used to fantasies with lighter romance may not be mature enough for the amount of blush-worthy sequences in this book. However, older teen, adult, and parent readers who are romance fans may appreciate the various complicated love triangles, squares and entanglements. As for the battles, mind-controlling Corien grows so powerful, it's difficult to see how he and his fellow avenging angels will ever be defeated. Thanks to the plot twists near the end of this installment, readers should expect to be left frustrated until the final book comes out.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in the Empirium series. Is it necessary to the story?
Both of the main characters are sexually active but have different kinds of romances. Is it surprising to read that many love scenes in a young adult book? Which romances are you rooting for?
Will you continue with this series? What do you think will happen to the two "queens"? Which storyline do you find more compelling?
- Author: Claire Legrand
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
- Publication date: May 21, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 608
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 13, 2019
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