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Kingsbane: Empirium, Book 2

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Kingsbane: Empirium, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Thrilling, long sequel is full of steamy romance, violence.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn how to discern different points of view in a book dealing with vastly different timelines and more than one first-person perspective.

Positive Messages

Consistent positive messages include the importance of honesty (and on the flip side, of the dangers of keeping up with lies, even small ones), of guarding your mind from intrusion and manipulation, and of owning your power and talents. The thirst for power can begin to corrupt. People are more capable of than they seem. The misdeeds and character flaws of parents do not have to be repeated in their children.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rielle and Eliana are both brave and love their families and friends fiercely. They challenge the status quo and wrestle with their consciences to determine whether to do what's best for them each as individuals or what's best for people they love and their communities/kingdoms. Audric and Ludivine care deeply about Rielle and are supportive and protective of her. Remy adores his older sister, Eliana. Simon believes in Eliana's abilities. There's continued LGBTQ representation in this installment, as well as characters with different fantasy cultural backgrounds.

Violence

This series has a huge body count as well as torture, abduction and hostage-taking, and violent mind control and manipulation. Many characters (some of them fairly major) die due to armed battles, explosions, and hand-to-hand combat.

Sex

Many detailed love scenes overall, although more in one queen's storyline than the other. The sex scenes describe specific acts and positions (and places beyond a bedroom) and include an invitation to a threesome and, in one character's case, an insatiable desire for sex in order to deal with an overwhelming supernatural situation. One character describes herself as quite experienced and engages in both casual sex and sex with a partner she loves. Although birth control (in the form of an herbal concoction) is mentioned, one character gets pregnant after having unprotected sex.

Language

Strong language includes occasional use of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "bastards," "ass," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink wine and liquor at parties, dinners, and also before dangerous battles or to ward off physical pain.

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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written bycrazycookie1252 September 4, 2019

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?

  • Is anyone a role model in this book? What character strengths do they display?

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