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Crown of Shards #2

Protect the Prince

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Magic, murder, adventure, and romance combine in this second novel in the exciting Crown of Shards saga from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep.

Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.

First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.

Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.

But dark forces are at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, Evie’s immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes her wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.

But Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s . . . well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.

Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…

448 pages, ebook

First published July 2, 2019

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About the author

Jennifer Estep

87 books11.2k followers
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author who prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer is the author of the Elemental Assassin, Section 47, Galactic Bonds, Crown of Shards, Gargoyle Queen, and other fantasy series. She has written more than 40 books, along with numerous novellas and stories.

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys hanging out with friends and family, doing yoga, and reading fantasy and romance books. She also watches way too much TV and loves all things related to superheroes.

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit her website at www.JenniferEstep.com or sign up for her newsletter: http://www.jenniferestep.com/contact-....

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Happy reading, everyone! 😎

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5 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 814 reviews
Profile Image for Ari.
744 reviews173 followers
February 22, 2020
Blog | Amazon | B&N | Instagram | Twitter

Odd, it seems, when the second book in a series falls shorter than the first. If anything, the initial book might sometimes seem a little weak since it's the one that builds the world of a series, slowly introducing all the aspects that we need. But, once in a while the case appears backwards, and this was one of those moments.

Make no mistake, I enjoyed Protect the Prince regardless of any shortcomings. This story is still a lot of fun, with endearing characters to boot, and an entertaining plot full of mayhem and intrigue. But those beforementioned shortcomings were rather pronounced, and not easy to ignore.

Most of the book centers around Evie visiting Andvari so that she may meet with its king, and not only smooth over the murder of his youngest son and trusted advisor by Vasilia, but to create a pact between both kingdoms so that they can stand together against the enemy kingdom of Morta. The start of it all was excellent, very believable with the Andvarians less than eager to not only have Evie in their home, but with any chance of brooking an agreement with her. Evie's less than stellar hold on her reign is more than expected, well portrayed, and I still had a bit of difficulty picturing her in the role.

All in all, it all fit once one takes into consideration everything that she has been through until this point. But once we enter the second half of the book, things begin to get a little messy.

Characters, especially the closer they are to one another, tend to be incredibly dramatic. They're over the top. There are so many exclamation points—especially between Sullivan and Evie—that you can't help but wince. Yes, Sullivan, it's exciting that Evie has woken up after being almost killed, but since you have woken up and watched her for about ten seconds, suddenly screaming out her name and rushing to her side is a little bit delayed. And while I am a fan of Sullivan and Evie as a couple (thank goodness that finally came to fruition, albeit slightly less explosively than I had hoped for), their story in Protect the Prince went through a lot more turbulence than was necessary.

Evie's big plan to become engaged to Dominic so that she can be close to him, protect him, and therefore attract the attention of those trying to kill him so that they may turn on her and therefore be caught (I'm winded just writing that), was a little weak. It felt like a forced attempt to introduce more turmoil into the relationship between her and Sullivan, and in the end it was less than necessary. Dominic was never again targetted, and she was going to be sought out by Maeven and her assassins eventually.

They have, after all, been attempting to kill her since the beginning of Kill the Queen. This is not going to change until one of them is dead.

The culprit behind the ploy to murder king Heinrich and Dominic was very evident the moment that Evie began to go after Helene, so there was no surprise there. And while it is starting to seem typical for the Mortan “bastards” to kill themselves—or be murdered—once they're revealed or captured, taking their secrets to the grave, it's beginning to get a little old. Keeping Dahlia alive would have not only added another facet to the story, but it would have been fascinating to see how Sullivan, as her son—and Heinrich, as her lifetime lover—would have dealt with that, giving us even more depth into their tale.

Things wrapped up somewhat weakly despite Evie and Sullivan's declaration of love—which was sweet, even if quite sappy for them—but I'm still holding out hope that the next installment will restore this series to what it started off as being (totally exciting, without pause).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,125 reviews261 followers
March 28, 2019
First, I have to say, after I finished PROTECT THE PRINCE, I immediately when back and re-read KILL THE QUEEN and then PROTECT THE PRINCE, again! It was that GOOD!

Evie has reluctantly claimed the thrown and now her troubles really begin. Her finely tuned art of political machinations will become her life line of survival. But at least she has the friends she made at the gladiator troupe to have her back.

Court intrigue, intense action and everything you’d expect from the incredible story telling of Jennifer Estep. PROTECT THE PRINCE has Amazing world building, outrageously imaginative and mind blowing action that had me white knuckle reading. A must read for all Epic Fantasy Lovers.

I received this ARC copy of Protect the Prince from Harper Voyager - HarperCollins. This is my honest and voluntary review. Protect the Prince is set for publication July 2, 2019.

My Rating: 5 stars
Written by: Jennifer Estep
Series: A Crown of Shards Novel
Sequence in Series: Book 2
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
ISBN-10: 0062797646
ISBN-13: 978-0062797643
Genre: Epic Fantasy | Romance

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Protect-Prince...
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Profile Image for Ian.
1,336 reviews188 followers
July 11, 2019
Every now and then I get a hankering for KFC.
Not often.
Maybe once in every two or three months.
I know I'm going to regret it but the craving needs to be sated.

And I always end up feeling ill and swearing that never again will I put myself through that.

Jennifer Estep is a bit like that. I struggle with her writing style. The countless repeated adjectives, the self recriminations her characters all go through, the use of dreams to tell a back story.

But I've read 20+ of her books and I keep going back for more so I guess she's doing something right.

Protect the Prince is entertaining and infuriating and completely what you expect from Jennifer Estep.
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,122 reviews275 followers
July 6, 2019
Protect the Prince by Jennifer Estep

2nd in the Crown of Shards series. Fantasy series. Best read after the first Kill the Queen.
Everleigh, The heroine is fierce and tender hearted. She is going to do what’s best for her kingdom regardless of the cost to herself. She puts herself on the line several times. Even when her own heart s breaking.

Intense and action filled. I can’t wait for the next in the series.

Gargoyles: living, breathing stone. Like puppies, they like their bellies rubbed. If they like you. But their wagging tails can cause quite a bit of wind damage, so look out!

I received a copy of this book at a conference. I also purchased a copy to keep and reread.
Profile Image for Grace A..
361 reviews38 followers
August 13, 2022
Protect the Prince, is even better than the first book in the series. I couldn't put it down. I stayed up past 1 AM just to finish it. I was entranced, enthralled, and entertained.
Evie secured the throne in book one, but the battle was far from over. There is always someone who wants to kill the queen. Evie was a fierce warrior queen, but she's also plagued with insecurities and self-doubt. However, the more she embraced who she was, the more she was able to wield her magic like a weapon, surviving several assassination attempts and thwarting the enemies' plans over and over again.
I am loving every minute of this series and going on to the last book in the series. My ratings? Five stars.
Profile Image for Lady Heather .
1,290 reviews698 followers
July 16, 2019
"Pretty, pretty princes,
All in a row.
Who will they marry?
Where will they go?

This girl, that girl,
Maid, lady, queen.
Who snares the princes' hearts
remains to be seen."

- Andvarian court song


"5- What does it mean to be a Winter Queen- Stars"

"Summer queens are fine and fair, with
pretty ribbons and flowers in their hair.

Winter queens are cold and hard,
with frosted crowns made of icy shards."

-Bellonan fairy-tale rhyme

This was such an amazing read!
This book was an incredible story of lies, treachery, deceit, and hidden agendas.
There were so many twists and turns and unexpected circumstances and secrets that were wonderfully executed and beautifully revealed.

I loved the development of Evie and Sullivan's complicated characters and how much of their past seemed to affect their present decisions.

Loved the tension between Evie and Sullivan and the nice twist at the end.
They perfectly complimented one another.
Great writing!
Great story!
Great characters!

I look forward to reading more books in this series!
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
792 reviews858 followers
July 4, 2019



TITLE: PROTECT THE PRINCE
AUTHOR: Jennifer Estep
SERIES: Crown of Shards #2
RELEASE DATE: July 2 2019
GENRE: Fantasy
RATING: 4 STARS
CLIFFHANGER: Yes

READ MY REVIEW ON THE BLOG









After KILL THE QUEEN I couldn't wait to see how Evie was going to deal with her new status as the Queen of Bellonan. Here are my thoughts:

- Evie had a lot of hangups about people judging her. Her inner monologues, repeating how she thought she didn't deserve being queen, that she was a fraud, a pretender, were a little repetitive and at some point I couldn't help but roll my eyes.

- Ultimately she grew into her new role, though, and I was happy to see pushing back and making smart decisions that were for the good of all, even though they often were hard and hurtful to her and the people she loved and sometimes involved lying to them. While I hope that the lies are a thing in the past, I really doubt it.
I didn’t think that it was possible, but my heart somehow sped up and stopped, soared and plummeted, swelled with happiness and cracked apart with grief, all at the same time.

- I was hoping for the romance to develop in this installment. It did. At a snail pace. I can't say that this made me happy, especially when the interactions between Evie and Lucas were scarce. However, we get a pretty nice development in the end.

- Lucas Sullivan was his hot, magnetic self again. We didn't see as much of him as I would have liked but I think it'll all come together great in the next installment.

- The backstabbing, assassination attempts and schemes at court keep the tension high and the reader invested to find out who the perpetrator is. I had a theory pretty much from the beginning but even though I guessed correctly I was glued to the pages when the showdown played out.
“I’ll say this for you, Evie. So far, your reign has not been a boring one.”

- I talked about this with my bestie and, rarely enough, we disagreed a little: Evie got some serious flak and hate at the Andvarian court for the massacre that happened in her kingdom. She was the person who saved people, she didn't participate in it. She even killed the person responsible. The amount of hate she got from the Andvarian people was mind boggling and I was upset for Evie because I thought it was unjustified.

- There was an excessive amount of describing rooms and clothes, which made the story drag a little in parts. At some point I thought "gargoyle" was in every sentence because, apparently, they were everywhere.

- Which brings me to the next thing that was a little annoying. We know that Evie can smell emotions. When you keep reading about jalapeno rage, peppery anger, lime truthfulness and rotten deception and it's being repeated ad nauseam, it kinda starts to bug you. I think the author could have chosen to just name the emotion Evie smelled.

With all the niggles I had I enjoyed this installment. It had so much depth and heart-stopping situations, the plot well thought out. I missed the whole gladiator feel in this one but it does have a good dose of the Game of Thrones schemes. Final verdict: overall a satisfying second book in this series!
“You are my kingdom. You always have been, ever since that first morning I found you sleeping in the corner of my house. You’re all I’ve ever wanted, highness, and you’re all that I need, Evie.”
“You’re my kingdom too,” I whispered.

Profile Image for Rumsha.
82 reviews7 followers
August 6, 2019
Mediocre follow up to a strong entry, mostly because no reader should ever be subjected to food smells as frequently as this author thinks is appropriate. Is lime truthfulness even grammatically correct? Someone spare Estep the ashy heartbreak and get this book a beta, before all that garlicky guilt and minty regret set in. 🙄
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,405 reviews256 followers
February 29, 2020
The Crown of Shards series by Jennifer Estep is so awesome. Luckily for me, Protect the Prince is just as brilliant as Kill the Queen and it was great to see Everleigh back in action.
I can't wait to read book three. I'm going to have to read more Jennifer Estep in the future.
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
951 reviews769 followers
December 18, 2019
“Because life can be a cruel, heartless bitch,” Helene snapped. “Because we should hold on to the happiness we have and not worry about what other people think of it, or especially of us. Because caring about someone occasionally means compromising something about yourself for their benefit and not your own. That’s what real love is.”

With equal the amount of fantasy, action, and intrigue plus double the romance, angst, and court politics this book builds on upon its predecessor's success making it even more exciting read.

The Key Cast
Evie
"There is an old saying, one that we are all quite proud of: Bellonans are very good at playing the long game."
Evie is a delightful heroine. She went from wallflower, who kept her head down to survive, to a full fledged queen who is willing to do anything it takes to protect her kingdom. But not at the expense of herself or her values.

Sullivan
He's just trying to figure out where he fits in, because being an illegitimate continues to make him question his place and his worth to others.

Paloma
A true ride or die friend.

Xenia

Gemma
This young girl is awesome. Dominic's daughter is one of the few people in Andvari who trust Evie without question. She loyal, smart and observant.

Dominic
Just as Sully described him, he truly is the image of Prince Charming. Like Evie he feels bound by duty, and though they do not know each other well he still treats Evie with nothing but respect.

Heinrech

The Relationships
Sullivan & Evie
An emotional roller-coaster of feels.

Evie & Paloma
Just two best friends being awesome.

Evie & Gemma
The sweetest friendship. Gemma genuinely adores Evie and the feeling mutual. The young girl is so endearing and honest you can't dislike her.

Dominic & Evie
"Do you tell all the women you meet in libraries how pretty their eyes are?"
"Just the ones who refuse to marry me."

As far as forced arranged marriages go these two were a treat. We did not get a lot of them, but the parts we did get I enjoyed. Because their fast friendship was delightful and honest.

*Detailed review to come?*
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
2,966 reviews631 followers
December 31, 2019
Action-packed and romantic Protect the Prince further fleshed out the world as our Queen Everleigh Blair embraced her role and showed the realms what a Winter Queen looks like.

Problems begin in Bellona as court politics force Evie to deal with those who question her ability to lead. Assassination attempts, wicked cuts and barbed tongue lashings immediately pulled me in.

We then head to Andvarian palace, the birthplace of Lucas Sullivan, the King’s bastard. Evie hopes to form an alliance between the two kingdoms against Maeve and the Bastards Brigade.

We see old characters, learn of Evie’s childhood and of Sullivan’s. Twists, turns, old lovers and more kept me flipping the pages. Estep is a master storyteller, and she spins a tight tapestry.

Danger, plots, attacks and more gave way to a maddening pace that was utterly addictive. Strong characters and loyal companions kept me vested and holding my breath.

I relished hating the villains and navigating the surprise curve balls thrown our way. Be warned there is romance. But it’s the forbidden kind, with character growth that can be both frustrating and romantic.

Evie is such a strong character, and we learned more about her mutt abilities. She is a born leader despite her denials. A strategist who can see the bigger picture and a heroine you will want to root for. Don’t piss her off though because she is a skilled with a sword as she is with her tongue.

This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,976 reviews362 followers
July 26, 2019
Jennifer Estep has once again blown me away with her ability to create not only a unique world full of magic and wonder and believe-ability but memorable characters that you can't help but love and feel for.

A unique epic fantasy that will blow you away, get your heart and blood pumping and your hand eagerly turning the pages because you just can't get enough, fast enough.


I loved Kill the Queen and it still remains one of my favorite reads for 2018 but Protect the Prince has by far surpassed that love and gone straight to one of my most favorite fantasy series of not only 2018 or even of 2019, but of all time. I have loved every page of this story and can't wait for the next book to come out.

I haven't been this excited about a fantasy series in I don't know how long.


*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen.
1,681 reviews595 followers
November 3, 2019
*****5 Magic Master Stars*****

What a great 2nd book to the series and to me, it wrapped the romance up in a perfect way. Now, the war? I know there will be another book coming but I wonder if it's with Evie or will there be a new main character? My guess....Gemma.

I can't wait to see what comes next!
Profile Image for Roobie.
669 reviews87 followers
January 26, 2020
⭐️3 stars⭐️

I was queen.
It didn't matter how I had gotten here, only what I did while the crown was on my head.
And that would always be protecting Bellona and her people-and fuck anyone who was stupid enough to doubt me or tried to keep me from doing my duty as queen.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,587 reviews255 followers
March 27, 2020
Notes:

I liked the first book more than this one. I'll have to be really bored to check out the rest of this series. The writing is not as good as what I would expect from JE.
Profile Image for Sophia Wordworld.
727 reviews17 followers
May 7, 2021
Den ersten Teil der Splitterkronen-Reihe, "Kill the Queen" von Jennifer Estep, habe ich letztes Jahr im März geradezu verschlungen, weshalb es für mich außer Frage stand, dass ich Everleighs Abenteuer auch in Band 2 und Band 3 verfolgen muss. Den Erscheinungstermin von Band 2, "Protect the Prince" habe ich letztes Jahr leider verpennt, weshalb ich mir jetzt kurz nach dem Erscheinungstermin des dritten Teils, den zweiten gebraucht gesichert habe, bevor es dann mit einem Buddyread zu "Crush the King" weitergeht.

Leider hat die Splitterkronen-Reihe meiner Meinung nach von Band 1 zu Band 2 ein bisschen Pepp verloren, was man auch schon an der Gestaltung sieht. Band 2 ist genau wie "Kill the Queen" in einem typischen, unspektakulären Jugendbuch-Fantasy-Stil gehalten, lässt aber die raffinierte Machweise vermissen, die beim ersten Teil überzeugt hat. Zusehen ist hier eine etwas unförmige Silhouette einer Frau mit wehenden Haaren, einem Dolch in der Hand, die von einem Herrenhaus und Gewitterhimmel ausgefüllt wird, was sich interessant vom hellen, gesplitterten Hintergrund abhebt. Leider passt das Schloss eher weniger gut zum im Buch beschriebenen Glitnir in Andvari und die Glassplitter im Hintergrund passen zwar zum Inhalt, sehen jedoch ein bisschen billig und künstlich aus. Ebenfalls schade fand ich, dass hier die in Band 1 angefügte Karte fehlt und die drei großen Abschnitte nicht wie in Band 1 zusätzlich ausgestaltet sind. Alles in allem finde ich die Gestaltung von "Protect the Prince" zwar gelungen und passend zu Reihe, im Vergleich mit Band 1 lässt sich jedoch einen leichten Abwärtstrend feststellen.

Erster Satz: "Der Tag des ersten Mordanschlags begann wie jeder andere Tag auch."

Genauso verhält es sich mit der Geschichte an sich. Versteht mich nicht falsch, ich mochte "Protect the Prince" sehr und kann es auch herzlich weiterempfehlen. Nach dem sehr starken Reihenauftakt waren meine Hoffnungen jedoch ein bisschen größer. Überrascht hat mich, dass Jennifer Estep hier eine isolierte, in sich abgeschlossene Geschichte erzählt, die zwar auf Informationen und Figuren des ersten Teils aufbaut, ansonsten jedoch alleine stehen könnte. Genau wie Band 1 ist das Ende in sich rund, sodass man auch nach Band 2 mit dem Lesen aufhören könnte. In "Protect the Prince" geht es also nicht direkt nach dem gewohnten Schema weiter, stattdessen hat sich Jennifer Estep etwas Neues überlegt. Wir reisen für die Handlung dieses Mittelteils nämlich zusammen mit der frisch gekürten Königin und ihrer gesamten Entourage in Bellonas Nachbarland, nach Andvari, um mit dem dortigen König Heinrich einen Friedensvertrag auszuhandeln. Damit will Everleigh ihre Stellung an ihrem eigenen Hof sichern und sich einen reichen Verbündeten gegen den gemeinsamen Feind Morta sichern. Die Verhandlungen stellen sich jedoch als alles andere als leicht heraus und plötzlich befindet sich Everleigh in einem Strudel aus Intrigen, Attentaten und Verrat...

Mit dem Gladiatoren-Kampf geprägten ersten Teil, in dem wir Everleigh auf ihrem Weg auf den Thron begleiten hat die Fortsetzung also nur noch wenig gemein. Jennifer Estep ruht sich hier nicht auf Band 1 aus, sondern entwickelt ihre Geschichte komplett weiter und fokussiert hier vor allem auf die Vorgänge und Dynamiken bei Hofe. Das ist auch keineswegs ein Problem, sondern nur einfach etwas anderes, als ich erwartet hätte. Trotzdem fiel mir der Einstieg auch nach etwas mehr als einem Jahr sehr leicht, da die Autorin viele Erklärungen voranstellt und Figurenbeschreibungen und Informationen zum Setting innerhalb der ersten Kapitel nochmal wiederholt, sodass man sich bald erinnert, wer nochmal wer war und was in Band 1 alles passiert ist. Das Vergangene spielt jedoch schon bald keine große Rolle mehr, da wir in Andvari eine komplett neue Ausgangslage präsentiert bekommen, die wir zunächst entdecken müssen. Dass die drei großen Abschnitte, die die 27 Kapitel zusammenfassen, mit "Der erste/zweite/dritte Mordanschlag" benannt sind, sorgt zusätzlich für Spannung.

"Man muss jemanden wirklich verzweifelt lieben, um etwas so Dummes, Gefährliches zu tun." Er hielt den Blick auf die Klippen gerichtet, doch mein Herz verkrampfte sich trotzdem. Diese Geschichten mochten romantisch und herzerwärmend sein, doch wir wussten beide, dass Liebe nicht immer alles in Ordnung brachte. Manchmal machte sie alles nur noch schlimmer."

Dennoch ist "Protect the Prince" lange nicht so temporeich und spannend wie Band 1. Zu Beginn halten eine Serie von Mordanschlägen und Kämpfen die frisch gekürte Königin auf Trab. Im Mittelteil nimmt sich die Fortsetzung jedoch erstmal Zeit, die Gegebenheiten am neuen Hof in Andvari auszuloten und Evies Beziehung zu Sullivan zu vertiefen. Das ist auch keineswegs ein Problem, an manchen Stellen reichen gezielte Intrigen zwischen Kaffeekränzchen und ein Kampf nach einer königlichen Audienz jedoch einfach nicht aus, um darüber hinwegzutäuschen, dass Jennifer Estep von Zeit zu Zeit etwas zu sehr ins Schwafeln gerät. In "Kill the Queen" waren Informationen über Setting und Figuren eher beiläufig platziert und ließen mehr Raum für die aufs Ganze gehende Handlung, als ich vom Auftaktband einer Reihe erwartet hätte. Hier werden Kleidung, Zimmer, Magie und Gärten manchmal seitenlang beschrieben und die liebgewonnenen Nebenfiguren aus Band 1 sind nur nette Begleitung, die sich aber weder weiterentwickeln, noch besonders Eindruck hinterlassen. Dazu kommt, dass ich recht schnell einen Verdacht hatte, wer hinter den Attentaten steckt und der Verräter ist, was sich am Ende dann auch leider bestätigt hat.

"Wir sind nicht mehr in der Arena ... was leider bedeutet, dass du deinen Streitkolben niemandem auf den Kopf schlagen kannst. Aber auch ich darf ihnen mein Schwert nicht in den Bauch rammen, wie sehr ich mir das auch wünsche", sagte ich und schwächte meine letzten Worte zu einem Murmeln ab. "Oh, wir befinden uns immer noch in einer Arena. Nur dass du jetzt mit Worten kämpfst, statt mit Waffen."

Wirklich langweilig wird es aber trotzdem nie. Dafür sorgen zum einen der für High Fantasy recht temporeiche und dynamische Erzählstil, der die Handlung zu jeder Zeit vorwärts treibt und Längen verhindert. Mit spannenden Kämpfen, Intrigen, Geheimnissen, Reisen durch mehrere Königreiche, der Vorstellung von Fabelwesen wie Gargoyles oder Strixen und dem Kennenlernen von verschiedenen Arten von Magiern - Murkse, die eine verbesserte Körpereigenschaft besitzen, Morphe, die sich in Monstergestalten verwandeln, Magier, die Elemente kontrollieren und Meister, die aus Materialien die beeindruckendsten Dinge herstellen können - bekommen wir zu jeder Zeit genügend Spannendes präsentiert, dass man darüber wegsehen kann, dass "die Außenseiterin mit einer geheimen Gabe, die durch einen Schicksalsschlag zur Auserwählten wird, kämpfen lernt und ihr Königreich rettet" nicht gerade ein neues Konzept ist. Jennifer Estep nutzt hier gezielt Fantasy-Klischees um uns zu unterhalten und holt das Beste aus jedem einzelnen hinaus ohne ins Unglaubwürdige oder Langweilige abzudriften. Die Außenseiterin mit der geheimen, versteckten Macht wird zusätzlich zu ihrer Immunität mit einer "Murksgabe", also einem verbesserten Geruchssinn, ausgestattet, der sie entgegen des Spotts aller in vielen Situationen weiterbringt als die machtvollste Blitzmagie. Der geheimnisvolle, starke Krieger/Prinz, in den sich die Protagonistin verliebt, wird nicht zum großen Retter, sondern bleibt als Sehnsuchtsfigur im Hintergrund, während die Heldin sich selbst retten darf.

"Ich hatte das Gefühl, als wäre mein Herz eine der Seerosen, wie sie auf der Oberfläche des Teichs trieben. Doch statt Wasserströmungen waren es bei mir Menschen, die mich in diese oder jene Richtung zerrten. Und alle wollten mich zwingen, nach ihrer Pfeife zu tanzen. Ich fragte mich, wer am Ende wohl gewinnen würde... oder ob mich die damit einhergehenden Strömungen und Intrigen in die Tiefe ziehen und ertränken würden.

Und hier wären wir bei dem zweiten Punkt, der die Geschichte einfach genial macht: die Protagonisten. Eine tragende Säule der Geschichte ist vor allem die sympathische, starke Protagonistin, Lady Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair, kurz Evie. Sie ist voller Wut, kalter Berechnung und Entschlossenheit aber auch voll Mitgefühl, Wärme und dem genau richtigen Maß an zerbrechlichem Selbstbewusstsein, sodass man ihr ihren täglichen Kampf mit Freuden abnimmt. "Protect the Prince" ist genau wie der Vorgänger kein wirkliches Jugendbuch - nicht nur weil hier viele blutige Kämpfe ausgetragen werden und gelegentlich auch Schwangere, Hilflose und Kinder abgeschlachtet werden, sondern auch weil die Protagonistin mit ihren 28 Jahren außergewöhnlich "alt" ist. Dass war für mich natürlich eine nette Abwechslung, aber dadurch ist Evie vielleicht nicht die beste Identifikationsfigur für 14jährige, sondern spricht eher etwas ältere Leser*innen an. Sie ist sehr viel erfahrener, selbstbewusster, reifer und gefestigter als die üblichen Fantasy-Protagonistinnen, was die Story von viel Geschmachte, emotionalen Schwankungen, Peinlichkeiten sowie einer ellenlangen Selbstsuche befreit und mir sehr zugesagt hat. Das bedeutet nicht, dass sie sich nicht entwickeln würde, im Gegenteil: wie sie beginnt, sich nichts mehr gefallen zu lassen und ihre Stärken offen auszuspielen ist nicht nur amüsant, sondern auch beeindruckend zu verfolgen. Hier bekommen wir auch ab und zu wieder Rückblicke in die Vergangenheit von Evie, die weiter erklären, was damals passiert ist und wie ihre Eltern gestorben sind.

Hier rückt wie gesagt die Liebesgeschichte zu dem gutaussehenden andvarischen Bastardprinzen, Magier und Gladiator Lucas Sullivan weiter in den Vordergrund und entwickelt sich. Grundsätzlich hat mir gut gefallen, dass die zuvor sehr leise Liebesgeschichte weiter ausgebaut wird, gerade eine Szene gegen Ende wirkt dann aber doch sehr gezwungen und überstürzt. Hier hätte eine Aussprache oder eine reine Andeutung besser zur Geschichte gepasst. Alles in allem ergänzt die Komponente der Liebe im Wechselspiel mit Pflicht, Verantwortung und Intrigen, die Handlung aber sehr passend.

"Weil das Leben nun einmal grausam und herzlos ist", blaffte Helene. "Weil wir das Glück festhalten sollten, das uns geschenkt wurde. Und wir sollten uns nicht den Kopf darüber zerbrechen, was andere davon - oder von uns - halten. Liebe zu einem anderen Menschen bedeutet schließlich, dieser Person zuliebe Kompromisse einzugehen. Das ist wahre Liebe, Lucas."

Doch die Protagonistin bleibt nicht die einzige starke Frau, die sich nichts sagen lässt und die wir hier bewundern dürfen. Neben der gefährlichen Meistergladiatorin und Ausbilderin Serilda Swanson, der starken Kämpferin und Freundin Paloma und der gerissenen Tanzlehrerin und Spionin Xenia, sind auch hier neu auftauchende Figuren wie die Geliebte des Königs Dahlia, oder die schöne Pflanzenmeisterin Helene spannende Figuren, die "Protect the Prince" bereichern. Ich bin ein großer Fan von feministischer Fantasy, in der es Königinnen und Kämpferinnen gibt, die sich nicht von irgendwelchen Rittern retten lassen oder von gutaussehenden Prinzen abgelenkt werden, sondern selbst das Heft in die Hand nehmen, wodurch Jennifer Estep noch weitere Pluspunkte sammeln konnte.

Nun bin ich sehr gespannt, wie es im dritten Band mit Evie und Sully weitergeht und ob die anstehenden Regalia-Spiele und der unvermeidbar scheinende Krieg mit Morta "Crush the King" wieder auf das Anfangsniveau der Reihe heben können.



Fazit:

Eine spannende und überraschend abgeschlossene Fortsetzung über Liebe, Pflicht, Verantwortung, Intrigen. "Protect the Prince" ist leider etwas weniger temporeich und spannend als Band 1, überzeugt jedoch wieder mit tollem Setting, starken Figuren und einem packenden Schreibstil!
Profile Image for Mei.
1,879 reviews404 followers
July 22, 2019
Evie is the Winter Queen. Still she must convince the nobles that she is the Winter Queen and that's not easy at all!

She was much more free as a gladiator than she's now! She must put to use all the skill she learned while being the illused noblewoman in the same court. And, while she excel there, IMHO, she's not convinced. She still doubts her self-worth!

But she fights with wit and sword! And with her imunity to magic!

She will discover some very neat thing about her imunity! LOL

I loved the machinations and word-fights she had here! She's devious, but sometimes her character makes her slip and she over-reacts. But, immediately she realises what she'd said/done and finds a very clever way out of a tight situation! I loved that too!

While in the previous book I loved Sullivan, here I wanted to slap him often. Here he was so involved with his pride that he behaved like a 7 years old: you make me cry so now I'll make you cry! He didn't think what it was like for Evie and why she had to to something that seemed wrong towards him. I appreciated when Helen (his ex) told him in his face his faults!!

Still he got it at the end and atoned in a very, very nice way! :-)

I'm looking forward to the next book and I'm looking forward to make the acquaintance of the king of Morta! And to see what Maeven's story is, what's her third option and how will she end! :)
Profile Image for Emma.
2,385 reviews811 followers
July 19, 2019
I love the continuation of this story and not only because of the gargoyles! Well worth the wait for the second in series. The story really hits its stride, Evie tries to make a treaty with Sullivan’s people while foiling various assassination attempts. I must say I was surprised by events at the end of this book as I anticipated them at the end of the trilogy. Jennifer Estep writes feel good books and I very much enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,639 reviews449 followers
July 3, 2019
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

What a wonderful book! I found myself really being swept away by the story and was completely invested in what would happen to this group of characters. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Kill the Queen, so I was looking forward to this one and hoping that it would be just as good as the first book. I ended up liking this installment even a bit more than the first. This really was a wonderful reading experience.

This is the second book in the Crown of Shards series which really should be read in order. The first book is great so you really don't want to miss it anyway. Trust me on this. This book picks up shortly after the events of the first book. Evie is now Queen but that doesn't mean that she is no longer being tested. The nobles at court are not her biggest fans and seem to enjoy making her life difficult. There is also the little issue of the occasional assassination attempts that she has to deal with.

Evie knows that she needs to secure a treaty with the nearby kingdom, Andvari. She travels there along with her group of guards and advisors. Part of her group is Sully, who happens to be the bastard prince of Andvari. She doesn't expect or get a warm welcome. Andvari suffered losses during the Bellona massacre and they hold Evie partially responsible. She must find a way to win the king over to get the treaty she needs.

We learn a lot of things in this installment. The flashbacks into Evie's past were really enlightening. We also learn a lot about how things were for Sully growing up as an illegitimate prince and always taking a backseat to his legitimate brothers. Evie discovers a lot about herself and her magic over the course of this installment. It was nice to see a different kingdom and I really liked the gargoyles that played a role in the story.

I love these characters! Evie is such a strong character. She is tough and willing to make sacrifices when necessary for her kingdom. She is really smart and I enjoyed watching her assert her authority and make necessary political moves. Sully seems to always be there when Evie needs him but he holds himself back just a bit. It was nice to see all of the key characters play a part in this tale.

This was an exciting book! There are plenty of action scenes to keep things hopping and the use of magic in this world always seems to keep things interesting. There were several real surprises in this story which I really appreciated. I really liked that there was a bit of romance in the story and I thought that it was really well done.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I thought that this was an exciting story, filled with wonderful characters, that was almost impossible to put down. I wasn't sure if this would be a 4 or 5-star rating but the way this book ended really was fantastic and earned the fifth star. I cannot wait to read more of this amazing series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Harper Voyager via Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Kate.
2,048 reviews308 followers
January 27, 2023
Bumped up from 4 to 5 ☆

Ballonans were very good at playing the long game, and I couldn’t think of a better game to play than this one.

*cough* long live the queen *cough* that is if Evie is that lucky. Because Evie is the new queen.

All rise for Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona. But also the Winter Queen but what does it mean being a Winter Queen? Evie is about to find out whether she wants to or not. Only three months on the throne, one assassination attempt later and all the nobles of her country trying to marry her off to one of their kin, Evie has got a lot on her plate.

After the Seven Spire Massacre where all but the 17th in line for the crown survived, Evie is now to got to Andvari to pass on her condolences and to seek an alliance with Andvari to fight against the danger of Morta but not all is well in Andvari. There are dark underlying currents circling in the noble circles here as well.
My one problem with this book is that I guessed the villain it was just so glaringly obvious. The signs were all there. Nevertheless it did not distract me from thoroughly enjoying this book. Evie has tough choices to make and along the way she will hurt those she loves most. Close to the end of this book I thought that there would be no happy ending for the two love birds. But they have a HFN which is enough. But I’m hoping to get that in the last book of the series.
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,024 followers
June 13, 2019
4.5 stars

Full review to come!


A review copy was furnished by the publisher
Profile Image for Adah Udechukwu.
607 reviews79 followers
July 15, 2019
Protect the Prince is a pretty cool novel. I'm sure Book 3 will be nice as well.
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
951 reviews1,225 followers
July 4, 2019

Title: Protect the Prince
Series: Crown of Shards #2
Author: Jennifer Estep
Release date: , 2019
Cliffhanger: No
Genre:fantasy

In this second installment of the Crown of Shards series, we take off three months after Evie has defeated her murderess cousin Vasilia. As the only Winter Blair left, she's taken her place on the throne and adjusting to her new life. In the previous book we saw her go through a transformation, becoming more confident in her strength and abilities. Training with the Black Swan gladiators helped her to physically and mentally prepare for the confrontation of her lifetime. But now that she's suddenly thrust into leading the entire kingdom, she feels inadequate and unprepared for everyone's expectations.

How could she ever be what her people needed when they've only ever held her in disregard or disgust? She was nothing to them then, and things haven't changed much now either. No one expects her to last very long, and self-doubt consumes her. This was something that got repeated a bit much for me in the beginning, if I'm being honest. It felt excessive how many times this came up in her internal dialogue and wasn't necessary. There are also a lot of characters in this series, so keeping everyone straight after the gap between books took a bit of time. But once I refreshed my memory, things were moving along faster.

Everleigh is surrounded by a great group of friends who have become her advisors and protectors. Most notably, Lucas Sullivan, bastard Prince of Andvari whom she met during her time with the Black Swans. His brother was murdered during the assassination of her family, and the treaty with his people is in tatters. Not only does she need to repair relations between the two kingdoms, she must prove her worth in court, and stave off the Mortans who are still out for blood. The book is divided up into three parts, each with an assassination attempt on her life. There is a long standing vendetta between Andavarians and Mortans, but they are on a mission now more than ever to finish wiping out the Winter Blair line. Evie won't learn until much later why she poses such a threat, but all will be revealed.

Heinrich had said that his nobles wanted blood. Well, they weren’t getting mine—or my throne. But I would be more than happy to give them a traitor’s blood.

Evie and her entourage make their way to Castle Glitnir, where she will meet with King Heinrich and try to salvage relations that have been so damaged. From the moment she enters the city she's met with distrust and animosity. Even though she was an innocent party to the assassination, emotions are running high. I wasn't entirely sold on the level of hate sent her way, especially since they know she played a part in saving Princess Gemma. But the more I thought about it I could understand prejudice for her family taking hold at a time like that. There's also a lot of two-faced backstabbers in their circles so it makes sense for people to be on their guard with her. I did think that they would have eased up on her completely after she showed everyone a recording of the assassination, but it still took a little more time before fully gaining their trust.

Young Princess Gemma was introduced in the previous book, but now we really got to know her in depth. She ended up being a new favorite character for me! Her escape and dangerous journey from Andvari was alluded to, and it only made me want to know more. She stole every scene she was in, and I'm really looking forward to seeing her mature into an adult. There is most definitely a fascinating story waiting to be told with her rare abilities and connection to the Morton boy she communicates with. I really hope she gets a full length book of her own. I also think that Xenia and Paloma have more of a story to tell, which I think we will see in the following book. The implications I saw were certainly intriguing.

While Evie is proving herself at Glitnir, she discovers that there is another traitor walking among them. A good portion of the book is meeting the royals and trying to ferret out information that could lead her to who is behind the rage discovered by her "mutt sense."

I wondered who would win in the end—or if the currents, people, and agendas that went along with them would suck me under and drown me for good.

Her ability to smell deception and other emotions was invaluable to her, as was her secret ability to deflect magic used against her. This is another thing that she isn't fully knowledgable about, and we finally see her learn just how this ties into her being a Winter queen. This has been kept secret and teased from the beginning, so it was great to see her start to understand her identity and importance.

I was hoping to see more romance bloom between Sullivan and Evie, and we did see a change in their relationship, but I wish we could have seen more interaction between them. The story was plot driven rather than character driven, so he didn't get a lot of page time in conversation with her. She was forced to drive a wedge between them a couple of times, so that hindered their relationship as well. I couldn't help but feel horrible for poor Sullivan because she pretty brutally used his weakness against him and he was hurt badly in the process. The ending was delightfully, if predictably sweet however. I was really satisfied with how the book leaves off between the two of them.

Overall, there was some repetitious internal dialogue and scene setting, but for a second in series, there was a fitting amount of plot progression. Secrets were revealed, and motivations were unearthed, with plenty of magical fights to satisfy the action hungry reader. Evie really stepped up to the plate and proved that she has the wit, strength, and determination to overcome any obstacle put in her path. And believe me, there is a never-ending line of them. Many wish to see her fail, but she is the type of underdog heroine you love to root for. If you loved Kill the Queen, there is just as much to enjoy here, and it's definitely worth the read. I'm looking forward to seeing how this all comes together in Crush the King next year.

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Profile Image for Ann (annreads).
243 reviews312 followers
July 12, 2019
“I was only queen by chance, by accident, but I was queen. It didn’t matter how I had gotten here, only what I did while the crown was on my head. And that would always be protecting Bellona and her people—and fuck Heinrich and anyone else who was stupid enough to doubt me or tried to keep me from doing my duty as queen.”

That was actually amazing and such a great sequel! Evie is literally my QUEEN and I cannot get enough of her! Overall, I love where the series is going and I'm super excited for the next book!

4.5/5★★★★
Profile Image for ✩ Mira ✩.
90 reviews134 followers
June 14, 2020
3.5

It was a bit better than the first book, but the characters still felt immature (I mean Evie is supposed to be 27 and Sullivan 30-ish, but their actions reminded me of what a 16 year old would do, and their immaturity was the cause for the drama which was just sooo cheap and ugh).

The action scences weren't that well written in my opinion, which made them very unrealistic and some of them could have been over soo much quicker and easier altogether if people did the logical thing and helped each other instead of just standing around. There were times when I was reading and I was just ???????

I feel like the author tried too hard to make the main character appear very smart and self-aware and in that way made her sound super dumb, I know it doesn't make much sense but it does to me :))

Tbh this is a YA fantasy and the only things that make it adult are the cursing and the age of the characters. Where's the complex world-building, politics and interesting characters?


Still, it was kinda fun at times and a light, quick read, although shallow plot- and character-wise and very predictable.
Profile Image for Al *the semi serial series skipper*.
1,654 reviews635 followers
February 16, 2020
I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did book 1. Even though it's been a few months since I read the first book I thought there were tons of repetition in this book, per the author's usual writing style.

I liked Evie but this whole business of playing the long game was a bit unbelievable for some reason. She just did not come across as someone who had the mental know how for that. Yes, she remembers the little slights of her people when she was an orphan but that doesn't equate to being adept at political maneuvers. Maybe it's just me.

The last third of the book was a mess, IMO. It just spiraled into cliches upon cliches. The traitor was remarkably easy to spot, the news about the marriage was another, the ends with the bells was another. I smiled at that bit but I also rolled my eyes.

There was a tiny excerpt from the third book and it honestly makes me uninterested in it, who runs head fast into danger especially after this person has escaped close to six assassination attempts. It's almost too much for me. I might change my mind when I see reviews after it's been released.
Profile Image for Melissasfandomworld.
568 reviews116 followers
July 20, 2019
A really awesome sequel.
Not As strong as the first book but still really good.

* It has more than enough story line development.
* The characters were such a joy to read about again and I loved meeting some new characters as well, like Sullivan’s family for example and other people at court in Andvari.
* There’s more than enough action and girl-power present
* There’s magic everywhere
* There’s a court setting with lots of plotting and scheming going on
* There’s romance and heartbreak and a lot of other feels that goes hand in hand with it all
* And then there’s the truly addictive writing...

What a joy reading this series has been so far.

March 2020 can’t come soon enough.
I need Crush the King like NOW!
Profile Image for Jen Davis.
Author 7 books694 followers
January 19, 2020
I liked the first book in the series well enough, but I like this second installment even more. I felt like Jennifer Estep really hit her stride with these characters and their story here.

It kicks off right on the heels of Kill the Queen. Everleigh is about three months into her reign and she has to keep her guard up all the time. No one around her really believes she is up to the job and they all want to take advantage of her. She ends up going to Andvarie, Sullivan's home turf, to make a treaty with his father. It does not go smoothly.

The romance thread in the previous book was there, but it was very light. Here, even though the romance was at a simmer most of the time, it felt more prevalent because this was all about Sullivan’s family and how Evie’s decisions and interactions word impact him and their relationship. There is a lot of intrigue to be had, and of course, folks are trying to kill her left and right.

I thought the pacing was good. The plot was tight. And I liked the romance quite a bit. Will definitely be back for book 3.

*ARC provided by publisher
Profile Image for ♛ Garima ♛.
885 reviews174 followers
April 12, 2021
I feel conflicted reviewing this book at the moment because it was such a bizarre coincidence that I finished reading this and received the news that Prince Philip passed away on the same day!



I can't say I liked the prince much but I liked the Queen and I can't imagine what a painful time she is going through.
But enough about those Royals.

Evie is finally the queen but of course not everyone on board with it. It was quite entertaining to watch her go to another kingdom and try to win the favours of the people who disapproved of her so much. My only disappointment is we don't see much of other supporting characters. I don't understand author's point of introducing such amazing side characters but not give them anything meaningful. I mean why Paloma was Evie's bodyguard if when she is absent every time Evie is being assassinated? I mean what was the point of Cho being an amazing dragon morph but his only duty is to wink and stuff his face with sweets?
I want to see more of other characters awesomeness not just Queen's. Hopefully in the next one, maybe I will get more action from others.
Profile Image for Sophie "Beware Of The Reader".
1,253 reviews336 followers
January 29, 2020
Audiobook review
 

4,5 bad@ss heroine stars

 

I loved Kill the Queen so much that I had to buy extra credits on Audible as I could not wait for my new credit, days away, before listening to its sequel Protect the Prince.

 

One thing is certain: that series is addictive!

 

And the issue that I had with the world building and the slow “feel”  in the first book is completely gone!

 

In “Protect the Prince”, we follow Evie while she now is Queen of Bellona.

Being queen is no picnic because:

-there is always someone who wants to kill the queen.;

-micro managing nobles with overinflated egos and petty problems is like raising toddlers;

-there is always someone who wants to marry you to one of their male relatives;

-Evie must discover what being Winter Queen really means;

-a queen can’t marry a commoner, even less a bastard prince, whatever her feelings for him;

-trying to “play the long game”, thwart assassination attempts, avoid unwanted marriage is simply exhausting!

 

Honestly, being queen is so not what it’s rumored to be!

Look at Harry and Megan and you’ll see that Jennifer Estep has it totally right!

 

I loved that sequel, even more than the first one.

You have action, betrayals, secrets, heartbreak, starcrossed lovers and kick@ss heroine!

 

I must admit that I had guessed who the traitor was but probably that most of you will be in for a big surprise!

 

I also want to say that the complicated love story between Evie and Lucas had me ready to eat my headset as I was so angry and angsty and….

I understood Lucas reasons for not wanting to be second best, pride and pas hurt included.

I also understood Evie who had a kingdom to rule and nobles to satisfy.

But I couldn’t avoid thinking: just talk and go for the bold choice! It’s your life! Your happiness!

 

I am now even more in love with that universe, with all the characters and I can’t wait for the last book!

Have you read this series!
 

Thanks for reading!

 
Sophie

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