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The Hollows is gripped in unrest and on the brink of civil war as an insurgency of anarchists rise, and brother and sister vie for the throne in the second novel in the critically hailed Legacy of the Mercenary King series which Brandon Sanderson called “excellent.”

Michael Kingman thought he was going to die by the executioner’s axe, forever labeled as a traitor. Still alive, and under the protection of the Orbis Mercenary company, Michael and his family and friends are deeply involved in the seemingly rival conspiracies that are tearing The Hollows apart. With the death of the King, both the Corrupt Prince and his sister Serena are vying for the throne, while the Rebel Emperor is spreading lies amongst the people, and all of them want Michael dead. This is a story of betrayal, murder, and rebellion, and in this direct sequel to the debut novel The Kingdom of Liars, also some hope for justice.

For readers who love the intrigue and widening scope of epic fantasy like Sanderson’s Mistborn and Week’s The Black Prism, you will find your next must-read fantasy series.

592 pages, Hardcover

First published March 23, 2021

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About the author

Nick Martell

5 books289 followers
Nick Martell was born in Ontario, Canada before moving to the United States at age 7. After graduating high school on Long Island, he majored in Creative Writing at Pennysylvania’s Susquehanna University. He started writing novels regularly in fifth grade, and his debut novel, The Kingdom of Liars, sold when he was 23 years old. Currently, he lives outside Allentown. Follow Nick on Twitter, @macmartell or at nickmartell.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.2k followers
April 16, 2021
I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo

ARC provided by the publisher—Saga Press & Gollancz—in exchange for an honest review.

3.5/5 stars

Overall, The Two-Faced Queen a good sequel. Similar to its predecessor, the first half was a bit of a struggle for me, but the second half was great.

“To be forgotten feels more like death than death.”

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell was a debut that surprised me last year. If you’ve seen the reviews or receptions towards Martell’s debut, both positive and negative, I think I can assure you that the majority of them are valid. Personally, I found Martell’s debut thoroughly engaging, but I did find that the deliberately written-to-be-infuriating main character in the first half to be difficult to tolerate. The second half of the novel, however, was incredible. Now, what do I think about this sequel? It’s more or less the same as my overall feeling on the first book, with a few differences here and there.

“Some childhood traumas were like sunburns, other like broken bones, the most extreme like scars—faded but not forgotten.”

The Two-Faced Queen is the sequel The Kingdom of Liars, it is the second book in The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings series by Nick Martell. Although the story does takes place after The Kingdom of Liars, there’s a kind of standalone nature to the narrative that I think people who haven’t read the first book could actually understand what’s going on. Similar and at the same time different to my experience of reading The Kingdom of Liars, I did find the first half of The Two-Faced Queen to be a struggle to read. But this wasn’t caused by Michael Kingman’s annoying attitude; Michael has improved and matured a bit—note the word a bit—here. From my perspective, it felt like the plot was directionless, and to be honest, quite all over the place in the first half; some scenes and events, to me, actually felt like fillers. Sometimes, we can gauge how much we enjoy reading a book by how fast we’re able to finish it; it took me four days to read through the first half of the book, and it took me only one day to read through the second half. Now you see what I mean? In a similar way to Martell’s debut, the second half of The Two-Faced Queen provided a far more engaging narrative compared to the first half, and I won’t lie, it was even quite emotional at the end.

“Yeah, well, we can’t all be the perfect Michael Kingboy can we?”
“Kingman,” I said. “My last name is Kingman.”
“Then why do you act like a child? Kingboy makes more sense.”

There are, of course, more positive things to take from this sequel. One, after the events of the first book, Michael Kingman is more tolerable now as the main character; he’s still stupid, at times, but he has certainly matured a bit. I did, however, want more of Serena, though. I honestly thought she would have more appearances or roles in this book, but the majority of the book still revolves mainly around Michael. The second positive thing is the expansion of the world-building. I honestly thought The Kingdom of Liars would’ve worked well as a satisfying one-off standalone, and as it turns out, it seems that Martell truly still has several things in store for the series. The topics of legacies and families are still the most pivotal themes of the series; I highly enjoyed reading about them, and Martell’s prose continues to be accessible and engaging.

“I think, if possible, we deserve to hear about our parents’ flaws from themselves so they can teach us to be better than they were.”

Although there’s a bit of a middle book syndrome to it, I’ll say that I had a good time reading this sequel. The last 20% of the book, in particular, was just incredible. There are revelations, there are tensions, there are emotions; Martell has satisfyingly concluded The Two-Faced Queen by setting the stage nicely for the big showdown to come in the third—and I think the final—book of the series. I’m looking forward to finding out how the story ends.

Official release date: 25th March 2021 (UK) and 23rd March 2021 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Edward, Estefani, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Lufi, Melinda, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Shaad, Summer, Zoe.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,005 reviews2,597 followers
March 29, 2021
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/03/29/...

Wow, so that all just happened! Last year, Nick Martell’s The Kingdom of Liars surprised me, and now its follow-up The Two-Faced Queen has done it again, in the best way possible. Few things please me more as a reader than to have a sequel not only live up to its predecessor but also surpass it, and this is what we have here.

The story picks up soon after the events of The Kingdom of Liars, and be advised this review may discuss plot details from the previous book if you haven’t read it yet. Our protagonist Michael Kingman, accused of killing the king, had thought he would be facing execution but instead finds himself apprenticed to Dark, an assassin of the Orbis Corporation. But while this may have earned him a momentary reprieve, Michael isn’t out of the woods yet. A whole slew of people in the kingdom still wants him dead, and some of them sit in pretty high places, including Serena, known as the Two-Faced Queen. She and Michael used to be childhood friends, but all that ended after he was implicated in the death of her father. Now she only has room in her heart for revenge and will hear none of Michael’s claims of innocence.

As Serena and her brother are locked in a power struggle for the throne, however, the Rebel Emperor has been taking advantage of this unrest to sow even more chaos around the Hollow. In his work with Dark, Michael has been tasked to investigate some of the mayhem caused by the rebellion’s siege on the city, leading them onto the trail of a brutal serial killer known as Heartbreaker because of the way he rips the hearts out of his victims’ chests.

Ah, and the plot thickens! I will confess, one surefire way to hook me into a story is to throw in a murder mystery. Generally speaking, that kind of thing usually leads to increased interest, which is exactly what happened as the more intense pacing and elevated suspense meant I was all in on this hunt for the killer. This was also an improvement over the first book which was marred in places by prolonged lulls and confused, meandering threads. On the whole, this aspect of The Two-Faced Queen seemed more focused and balanced, the story racing along at a more energetic pace, not to mention all the unexpected reveals and surprises along the way! Now, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say this: Dragons!

The characterization was also much improved. Recall how in The Kingdom of Liars, my impression of Michael was that he was a frustrating and impulsive protagonist, and I hated the way he was constantly being manipulated. While some of this could have been explained by the memory-degrading effects of doing magic in this world, it was undeniable that much of his irresponsible behavior was also driven by his own stupidity. Well, you’ll be glad to hear that Michael’s personality has matured somewhat in this sequel. He still has his flaws, of course, but he has also learned to recognize his weaknesses (plus, it helped that this book provided a new perspective, putting some of Michael’s actions and motivations from the first book in a whole new light).

As well, I am practically squirming with excitement over the more developed relationships. I’m especially interested in what’s happening between Michael and Serena and the direction things are headed with them, as in many ways they remind me of Imriel and Sidonie from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Legacy (and those who’ve read the series will probably know why my eyes are completely glued on these two!)

Then there’s the writing, and Nick Martell is doing extremely well in perfecting his craft. His prose has definitely smoothed out, and I feel there’s less of a reliance on overused tropes. However, the world-building still feels a bit sparse, and it may be just a matter of knowing how and when to flesh things out. Occasionally, I still had trouble visualizing the environment, but I was not as distracted by it this time around, since the story kept me better engaged.

Anyway, I know I’ve already covered the many areas in which this book showed improvement over its predecessor, but there is still one final, very important measure I need to discuss, and that is my outlook for the future of this series. When I finished The Kingdom of Liars, I felt encouraged and cautiously optimistic for the sequel. When I finished The Two-Face Queen, however, it was with unadulterated, full-blown excitement for what’s going to come next! A lot happened in this book—some readers might even say too much—but the fuller, more riveting storyline was honestly quite enjoyable for me, and the last half was especially packed with intrigue and potential.

Overall, it would seem that my faith in the author was not misplaced. Nick Martell is well on his way to becoming a huge talent in the world of fantasy fiction. These first two volumes of The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings series have already made quite a splash with me, and things just keep looking better and better. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.
Profile Image for Nick Martell.
Author 5 books289 followers
December 8, 2020
Well, with its release date only a little more than three months away, I guess I should talk about book 2 of the Legacy of the Mercenary King series. Statistically, The Two-Faced Queen comes in about 30k—for a total of 180k—words longer than the Kingdom of Liars. In a lot of ways, this book was easier to write than the Kingdom of Liars. Which is wild considering I wrote it in about a little less than a year throughout 2018/2019. I think most authors talk about second book syndrome that I don’t need to go over it. I was lucky enough to escape it by writing this book before my first was out. The only voices in my head were my agent and editors, and that has made all the difference.

I’m incredibly proud of this book. I think more so than the Kingdom of Liars. This is the book of my heart and probably a good indication of what I’ll do for the rest of my career. Maybe not now that I’m thinking of the standalone I’ve been itching to write in my free time. Anyway. Rather than set things up, I pretty much spent most of the book knocking down pins. I also think I learned a lot from my debut and took everything up to it’s max. More magic. More consequences. And more wham moments. If you thought that scene was fun in the first, just wait to you see some of the ones in this book.

There’s nothing I can really say about this book that’s not a spoiler. I can’t talk about the magic and what the readers will learn about it. I can’t talk about Michael and his growth from a child with delusions of grandeur into something truly infamous or his relationship with the extended cast. And I definitely can’t talk about Dark and what’s going on with him. But, regardless, I hope readers enjoy this novel and the continuing evolution of the cast of characters. There are no heroes or prodigies or chosen ones or those compelled to act because of destiny in this book. Just young adults struggling to find their place in a messed up world.

But, if I can give one bit of advice, remember Michael Kingman’s story is a tragedy. He was never going to be the one who saved the world, but maybe he can be the one to break it. After all, what is a legacy if not an inheritance?

Onward to book 3.


Less than 6 months remain.

Two truths and a lie:

The Princess of Hollow is a new POV
The Princess of Hollow shows up 5 times in book 1
The Princess of Hollow goes on a revenge tour
Profile Image for Dave.
2,981 reviews324 followers
January 6, 2021
"The Two-Faced Queen" is the sophomore volume of the series, a fantasy series featuring a lead character whose legacy was loyalty to the Crown, but who has now been branded a traitor. Fabrications are the magical powers here, but their use leaves one with memory gaps. Perhaps a far more succinct novel would have focused better. This one lacked a focus and the characters lacked believability.
Profile Image for Maja Ingrid.
446 reviews125 followers
January 6, 2023
Not up there with Kingdom of Liars, but still good!

It takes some while getting into and it has too much going which makes it slightly messy.

But now that I'm done with the reread I can finally dive into Voyage of the Forgotten!
Profile Image for FantasyBookNerd.
272 reviews60 followers
March 23, 2021
The Two-Faced Queen is Nick Martell's exhilarating sequel to his debut The Kingdom of Liars.

I must say when I read The Kingdom of Liars, I was pretty impressed. Nick Martell did a fantastic job, writing an intriguing and well-paced plot. He introduced characters that are engaging if sometimes a little annoying, and endearing. There was intricate world-building and a complex magic system.

So, when I saw that the story of The Two-Faced Queen continued in the city of Hollow, I was wondering how Nick Martell was going to expand on something that he had done a pretty good job of building in the first place.

Well, he showed me, didn't he? It turns out that Nick Martell had a whole lot more up his sleeve and The Kingdom of Liars was just the tip of the iceberg.

The story takes place shortly after the events of the Kingdom of Liars and we find him indentured to Dark, the Orbis Corporation Assassin. His mother is no longer a Forgotten and the family are now living in Kingman Keep.

Outside the walls, the rebellion is still encamped slowly strangling the city of Hollow. In addition to this, refugees are flooding into Hollow, making a bad situation worse.

As part of his apprenticeship with Dark, they are tasked to find out where the refugees are from and who leads them.

This sets off a series of events. Firstly, a series of horrific murders lead to the return of a serial killer that has lain dormant for a number of years. The city of Hollow is now in the hands of Serena, The two-faced Queen of the title, who just happens to be Michael's childhood best friend and has set out to kill him because she thinks he killed her father. Oh, on top of that he has to pass his apprentice assassins test.

Just another day at the Kingsman residence then!

Structurally, Nick Martell does not shift much from the first book. Michael is the main character. However, in this book, he is not as difficult to spend time with, and Nick Martell does a nice job of retconning book 1, which gives a different perspective of Michael’s behaviour in Kingdom of Liars. Additionally, Michael grows in this book, which I liked a lot. I think the skill that Nick Martell shows in growing his characters organically is clearly evident. Michael seems more like a real person. Yes, he does make mistakes, and at times he does not see the bigger picture, but we see him learning from his mistakes.

Unfortunately, some of the characters that we spent time in book 1 with, such as Kai do not get as much page time as the previous book, but I found that the relationship that grows between Michael and Dark is quite a fascinating one, and made up for the absence of the other characters.

Naomi is a lot more prominent in the Kingdom of Liars, and we see the after-effects of the incident that involved the Crooked Prince. We learn that as well as losing her job, it is also causing her pain to the extent that she has to seek other means in order to control this.

However, a number of the characters get their time in the spotlight. For one the Two-faced queen herself, Serena, who deluded by her grief, relentlessly chases Michael. Symon, the King of Stories, who I have to say I found quite interesting and wished we could have spent some more time with him, although he gets two interludes in the book in order to change the focus from Michael. Most interestingly, however, is Gwen. I have always found Gwen to be a character that I wanted to spend more time with, and in this book, we get to do that.

The plot of the book runs at full pace, yes there are some lulls in it, but generally, Nick Martell creates a sense of urgency as the book comes to its conclusion. One of the things that I really like about Nick Martell’s writing is that he successfully weaves cross-genre plots. In one instance there is the serial killer plot and the race against time to find the killer before they strike again, interweaved with a solid fantasy book of rebellion and unrest.

On top of this, Nick Martell massively increases the world that the characters inhabit. We get more about the magic system and the lore too. And as we spend time with Dark and Michael, we get more information about the Assassins company and get to meet the crew.

In the Two-Faced Queen, Nick Martell successfully weaves a thrilling plot, expansive world-building with fantastic characters in a book that you won’t want to put down.
Profile Image for Lezlie The Nerdy Narrative.
389 reviews394 followers
October 31, 2022

Sadly, one big question always looms in the back of my mind when I pick up the second book in a series, I wish it didn't because I'm so scared it'll color my expectations, and that question is:


If you prefer video reviews, I do have one on my YouTube channel, The Nerdy Narrative, and this review can be found here: https://youtu.be/0957NLtFFag

Part of the fear is due to my love for the first book in the series. I generally don't continue a series unless I loved the first book - so I reckon that's understandable. In this case, the first book was Nick Martell's debut novel, so the follow up question is, was the first book beginner's luck?

Oh my dear reading friends, in my opinion, THE TWO-FACED QUEEN leveled up from the first book - I had thought Nick Martell introduced so much in the first one, that we'd just continue some of the plotlines and go from there. Well, we did, but oh my goodness, there was so much more! I read the first 40% in the first day and after reading the last couple lines of the last chapter, I have never been so glad to have the next and final book in this trilogy sitting right next to me to immediately start.
"I've never been worthy of anything...but to be born great is kind of boring, isn't it? I'd rather claw my way to the top with trails of blood marking my defiance than follow the path fate dictates for me."

Michael Kingman was almost executed for attempting to clear his family's name in order to end the rebellion. Now that the dust is settling, he's not sure execution would have been so bad since he's now bound to the mercenary Dark as his apprentice. Michael must obey the order of the mercenary and the company who saved him from being executed, but the unrest in Hollow has it on the brink of civil war: the death of the King has the Corrupt Prince and his sister Serena competing for the throne, the Rebel Emperor is sowing lies and discontent among the people of Hollow - but the one thing ALL of them have in common? They want Michael Kingman dead.

What can one expect in this installment of the series? The rebel army prepares its attack, our characters we love and those we loved to hate are back with more of their usual antics and trouble - plus a few new ones! Martell's character work in this novel had me in tears a few times - once I cried, not because of what happened to particular character, but the depth of emotion Martell wrote about another character reacting what happened.

In addition to new characters, we also have a serial killer on the loose - one that has terrorized Hollow previously, but was never caught. I love serial killer stories - I wasn't expecting such a good one to be in a fantasy story! I would dearly love to go into more detail about this aspect, but all the things I would say would absolutely be huge spoilers.

The magic system, as I suspected when I finished the first book, did get expanded upon. Michael encountered magic users from other countries, their abilities and aspects - and the costs those users paid were different, which I found so intriguing - especially because I bet this will continue to be a learning process in the finale of the series. (I am so sad this is only a trilogy, I already know I will want more!) By exposing us to more magic users, Martell also teaches us a bit more about the surrounding countries/territories, building out this world a touch more.

That's all I have time to scratch out, friends. I have the final book in the series sitting here at my elbow and I have got to see what happens next!
577 reviews24 followers
April 20, 2021
4.5 of 5 stars
My Five Word TL:DR Review : No middle book syndrome here!

The Two-Faced Queen is everything that I hope for in a second book and then some. This is one crazy ride of a story, full of yet more intrigue and deceit involving immortals, serial killers and a continuing fight for the throne.

I’m not going to recap The Kingdom of Liars here (there are plenty of reviews already out there for that purpose but I would just mention that if you haven’t read the first and intend to do so then this review may contain spoilers.

We start off with a very handy synopsis of what took place in book 1 kindly and considerately provided by the author.

As the story sets off Michael Kingman escaped execution by the skin of his teeth after being taken on as apprentice to Dark of Orbis Mercenary Company. Nobody would willingly risk bringing down the wrath of a mercenary company let alone one that is so well known. However, this temporary reprieve doesn’t totally eliminate the risk to Michael. There are no shortage of people who have himl in their sights, the Two Faced Queen being perhaps the most formidable.

Following the death of her father, Princess Serena (aka The Two Faced Queen) is overcome with the desire to punish Michael. She doesn’t believe that the King took his own life and is hellbent on revenge. Meanwhile, outside the city gates the rebellion continues to brew. Refugees begin to flood the city and to complicate matters further a serial killer, known previously as the Heartbreaker has returned to the Hollows and to say the plot thickens would be to seriously underplay the issue.

What I loved about The Two Faced Queen.

The writing is excellent and the story is superbly plotted. There’s so much going on here and I can’t deny that I needed to really stay focused in order to keep up with all the intrigue and characters. This is one tricksy number with no shortage of action or twists. I was absolutely hooked and constantly wanting to read just one more chapter.

The characters are fascinating, flawed and truly compelling. I can’t deny that there’s a very busy cast that sometimes means keeping everything clear in your mind can be difficult but I genuinely loved so many of these. Michael has come on leaps and bounds since the first book. He isn’t in such a dither now but is much more focused. Dark is truly fascinating as is the Orbis Mercenary Company, who we get to meet more of. I must say I loved the apprentice trial that Michael was put through and more than that the outcome – what a surprise. There’s also a great sense of family here with Michael’s mother being recovered and the family returning to the Kingman Keep. The Royals and the Kingman family share such a complicated past and that is explored much more in this instalment. It seems that Serena and Michael may have strong feelings for each other. Naomi and Trey both return and play outstanding roles and seriously, I just can’t help feeling so impressed by the way everything comes together. That ending.

The Two Faced Queen is a sequel that seriously builds on the foundations of the first book. The Kingdom of Liars was indeed well named, so many lies, so much deceit and none of it helped when you consider that the nobles and royalty all suffer gaps in their memory as a result of too much magic use. There’s no shortage of history or family backstories and I loved the final resolution which makes me super excited for the next instalment. Plus, a murder mystery that feeds into the plot so beautifully.

Overall, I have no criticisms, I had an excellent time reading this and was absolutely gripped. I can’t wait for more.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
Profile Image for Shaghayegh.
288 reviews74 followers
June 4, 2021
هووز نمیدونم با این جلد جلد چند چندم، قلبمو تیکه تیکه کرد 😔
Profile Image for Jonathan Koan.
477 reviews126 followers
July 27, 2022
I think Nick Martell painted himself into a corner with this book. There were certain things that absolutely needed to happen, but they couldn't happen until the final act. Since the setup was largely done in the first book, the first half of this book doesn't have the tension that it should have, and thus is more boring than it deserves to be. The second half of this book is substantially better, and saves the book from a negative rating.

Part of the problem with this book is its central plot. It really is not properly introduced until midway through the book. The set up from the last book, Michael needing to prove his innocence, is there, but its not a plot point, but rather an unfortunate reality of his character. The real plot, featuring the Heartbreaker Serial Killer, is not introduced until much later. The stories in the book properly converge in the end, and it was quite enjoyable at least.

Another problem with this book is the secondary characters. While I remembered the primary characters of Michael, Serena, Lyon, Gwen, Angelo, and Dark, I did not remember any of Michael's friends from the first book. There were many characters whom I was supposed to remember that I flat out didn't. Part of the problem is that it has been a full year since I read the first book, but I still should have remembered them or it should have come back to me.

This criticism ties into another I had, which was that there are times in the book where a rehash of what had happened in the last book would have been nice, but just was not present. I think Martell was naturally hesitant to re-explain things from the previous book (ala Robert Jordan), because the Fantasy Fan community has complained about that. However, it would have done marvels if present here.

I really did enjoy the second half of this book, which was a mix of a monster-hunter narrative and an action-mystery. The action here is fast paced and the mystery keeps getting better and better. There are shocking moments and twists that I didn't see coming, and Martell does a good job of keeping the reader guessing throughout.

This definitely sets up a third book, and I am intrigued to read it, but since this book was weaker than the original, I am not entirely sure whether I will attempt to read on release day or not.

Small note, I again did not appreciate the language in this book. It is almost entirely from the main character, and the book did not need it. He could have taken out the language and it would have not only read more smoothly, but would have been more accessible to a wider audience.

Overall, I think this is a good book with an incredibly solid second half. However, the first half does drag it down significantly, probably resulting in many readers DNF-ing the book. I would give this book a 6.5 out of 10! Martell has some real talent, but he isn't quite there yet.
Profile Image for Andreas.
482 reviews129 followers
March 26, 2021
Synopsis: This is the second novel of Nick Martell’s Legend of the Mercenary Kings series, sequel to last year’s The Kingdom of Liars. Main protagonist Michael Kingman escaped his death once more under the protection of the Orbis Mercenary company.

Inside Michael’s beloved city Hollows the two siblings Queen-in-Waiting Serena and her brother the Corrupt Prince long for the throne. Serena seeks revenge, because she doesn’t believe in Michael’s tale that her father, the former king, committed suicide.

Outside the city, the rebellion under the Emperor is still waiting to assault the city.

Michael has to follow Orbis mercenary Dark’s command as his apprentice and solve numerous riddles and most importantly: catch a serial killer Heartbreaker, who tears out his victims’ hearts, and also win back Serena’s trust and love.

He tries to figure out the inner workings of Orbis company, because he wants to advance as a fully accepted member and get free of Dark’s harassments.

Walking among Immortals and dragons, fighting against unknown types of magic, he can only trust in his family. Now, can he?

Review: I struggled to find back into the setting, because I didn’t remember all the names, abilities, and numerous relations exposed in the first volume. Yes, it is a highly complicated, tangled mess of a novel which asks for a lot of concentration.

This hurdle lasted for the whole first half of the novel before I was fully able to enjoy the ride and the plot picked up speed, action, and energy. It developed into a fast-paced, witty fantasy thriller featuring a highly capable foe who set up a kind of tournament for his victims, just for entertainment.

Lots of characters from the first novel got more attention and details, especially Dark, that uber mercenary, losing layer after layer like an onion. But even at his core, he is always able to come up with an unexpected twist for naive Michael. Michael matured only a tiny bit:

“Yeah, well, we can’t all be the perfect Michael Kingboy can we?”
“Kingman,” I said. “My last name is Kingman.”
“Then why do you act like a child? Kingboy makes more sense.”

This sequel finishes the setting of the city Hollow and opens up the world for the next volume. I’m very looking forward seeing this, hopefully next year.

Recommende for advanced readers of Epic Fantasy.
Profile Image for Rachel Kelly.
335 reviews25 followers
January 24, 2023
I'm still enjoying these books, but I feel like the author has some issues with plotting and planning. A lot of the plot in the first book felt really clunky to me, and this book was just worse. And then on top of that, there were a lot of things introduced in this book that should have been introduced in the first book, which makes me think that Nick Martell didn't have a clear view for how the plot would develop when he finished the first book, so he had to squeeze things into this one. But, I'm still really enjoying the characters, and I still think the premise as a whole is really great, so I'll read the next one.
Profile Image for Liz.
565 reviews105 followers
January 18, 2021
This was fun! Sure, I did request the book and then discovered that it’s the second in a series and I had not read the first one. But thought, feck it, I can totally dig in and see how goes.

Imagine my achy-breaky heart bursting with joy when I saw that author had included a ‘Story So Far’ to kick off the sequel. ‘Story So Far’ is my favourite addition to sequels. Thank you authors who do this!

What can I say without spoiling this book and its predecessor?

While I felt like I was able to enjoy TTFQ without having any prior insight, I would be inclined to take a dive into the first book anyway. The author has a knack for building on momentum and I believe that the intricate world, characters and political and otherwise struggles are so vast that I hardly got the rounded be all- end all of it. In fact, TTFQ, once it started, felt like it was on a course for disaster for some of our characters with conflicts and mysteries piling up and with hardly any time to take a breath. One simply cannot stop reading because the loose ends are many and there shall be answers, dammit!

You know what? I’m going to admit this. I might as well… I am somewhat glad I failed to be aware of book 1. Without previously sampling the author’s style, the world and setting we’re in, the characters and the various elements, I feel like I personally gained a whole lot of ‘hot damn’ moments out of TTFQ. I simply didn’t know what to expect and boy, oh boy, was a figuratively slapped in the face with awe-inspiring revelations chapter by chapter.

You need to know that the characters are all of them intriguing, making you want to know more. They are entirely human and we’ll, maybe a bit more than just human *taps nose

You’ll want to know that the world and political intrigue and the, can I say, fractions that the author has created are entirely ripe and multiple and serve a purpose.

You’ll want to know that the story flows and rolls like an avalanche. Taking you to scenes and moments of stillness, grandeur, amusement, flourish, quiet comprehension.

The magic in this book, I wouldn’t probably call magic. It’s more like… Oh! I know how to explain and some of you will roll your eyes so hard at this, you’re risking an eyeball muscle strain. So… Seen Twilight movies? You know the way the vamps have powers there to either make you see things or feel things or create a protective shield? Yeah. That.

Anyway! Moving on.

The final thing I wish to mention. The thing that rounded the whole book up for me, made it beautiful, worthwhile, wholesome… The crux of it all: family. I wish I could explain how the book felt relevant in this. I’ll try. Have you ever experienced that moment when you realize that you’ve stepped over that invisible line that separated the vision you had of your close family through the eyes of a child, and now you see, maybe even without wanting to see it, admit it, that the people you always, hand on heart, thought were the fairest, most honest, never do wrong kind of people, are in fact, well, utterly full of shit and even though you still love them and would do anything for them, you will take anything they say with a pinch of salt and perhaps, sadly, respect them a little less? Well. The Two-Faced Queen made me think such thoughts.

Final- final thing you’ll want to know, is that this book, this series in fact I feel I can safely assume, has some of you’re favourite fantasy elements. Such as: assassins, serial killers, royalty, a fully formed society, revenge, redemption, lovelovelove (love is the root of all troubles, after all!), immortality, altogether faulty and far from perfect characters to battle for your favour…and … who knows what other mystical beasts
Profile Image for Adeel.
86 reviews17 followers
April 15, 2021
"Living in Hollow had taught me to fundamental truths. The first was that history was fickle and could be rewritten and shaped by those in power. The other was that there was always another secret line below the surface, and that's true for the truth I couldn't let any mystery concerning the Heartbreaker go and solved"

Having read The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell last year, I was absolutely blown away by how amazing it was. The storytelling aspect was absolutely tantalizing and the world building had so much depth that I just wanted to continue learning more and more about the world of Hollow and its secrets. I was pretty nervous about how the sequel would be and whether it would be as good as the first book, but I can honestly say that it very much surpassed my expectations. This book was everything and more. The intensity that it brought was absolutely crazy. Page after page Michael is thrown into the most unexpected situations and you can't help but feel for the guy because he's been through so much.

The sequel takes place soon after the shocking and surprising events of Kingdom of Liars. Michael Kingman, the novels main protagonist, who has also been accused of killing the king in the first book, has managed to avoid execution. However, the gag is, Michael finds himself in the hands of Dark a member of the Orbis Company, a mercenary group. Dark makes Michael his apprentice and essentially Michael's life is in the hands of Dark. But this doesn't mean that Michael is off the hook, instead there are many individuals who Michael has pissed off and want to get revenge on him. In particular, Serena who is Michael's childhood friend and the Queen and the queen in waiting. Serena blames Michael for the death of her father who actually killed himself, but nor Serena or anyone who has a grudge against Michael believes that he didn't do it. Michael is innocent, but Serena only has one thing on her mind and that is to kill Michael and get revenge for her father's death.

To make matters even more complicated, upon being given the job to handle refugees who are pouring into Hollow, a formidable serial killer makes a return to Hollow. The serial killer is known as the Heartbreaker who snatches the heart out of the victims chest. Thus, Michael and Dark must capture the serial killer before he kills even more people and increases his reign of Terror upon the people of Hollow. During the investigation, it is discovered that people such as Dark, Naomi, and others have dealt with the Heartbreaker in the past. On top of that, Michael must continue to prove his innocence to Serena and remove the stain from the Kingman name.

It's difficult to know where to start with this book because this book in my eyes was a masterpiece. But I guess the first thing I will talk about is the characters. The character of Michael has very much changed from the first book. I fell in the first book he was very brash and immature. However, in the sequel, he has very much changed into I'm more likeable character as he has matured quite a bit and has slowly learned from his mistakes. We also learn more about Michael's memory degrading as a result of his powers and things that were done to him in order to make and forget key things in his life. I felt really bad for Michael this time around and I think the guy deserves a break after all he's been through. There are many who think Michael is an arsehole who should be killed, but I quickly realized that Michael isn't actually the problem, there are many people within Hollow who have done much worse than him and are extremely evil people.

I also really loved the dynamic between Michael and Dark working together in order to capture The Heartbreaker series killer and uncover who he is. As a result of this, we get a deeper insight into Dark, the person he is, how he became that person, and how the Heartbreaker serial killer and Dark crossed paths previously. It was really sad learning about Darks past, his father's cruelty, and his lost love Zahra. Because Dark is scary as hell learning these aspects made him seem more human. Dark appears to be a closed book but Nick Martell really allows you to get inside Dark's mind giving you a better understanding of who he is and what he is fighting for.

The back and forth between the character of Serena and Michael was also tantalizing. The tension between them was always at boiling point and you couldn't help but worry for Michael. However, I do wish we could have seen from the point of view of Serena. Given that the title of the book is The Two Faced Queen, I expected the narration of the story to consist of both Michael's POV and Serena's POV. Serena is a very interesting character, she doesn't take s*** from anyone and she's ruthless, but at the same time she is caring and you just kkow deep inside of her she misses the friendship she has with Michael.

"Instead of toasting. Serena placed a revolver on the table next to her plate. Naomi snorted. Cliloe sighed. And I just stared at it as Domet think We were off to a great start."

I also really liked that the character of Naomi had a bigger role in this sequel. Due to the previous events of the first book where she was shot by the Crooked Prince, she has become addicted to a drug known as Blackberries to curb the effects. The dialogue between Michael and Naomi was hilarious and there were many moments where I couldn't control my laughter.

"Goodbye, Naomi." I left her sitting on the bench.

"Bye, sweetie," Naomi said. "It'll be cold in bed without you."

The joke was on her, we still didn't have beds in Kingman Keep."

Another interesting character was Symon aka The King of Stories. Symon is obsessed with recording the every move of Michael and his family. Although a bit weird at first, Symon reasoning as to why he is obsessed with the Kingman family was really interesting. The character of Trey also makes a great impact on the story. Trey is the best friend of Michael but there's a lot of tension between them due to the death of Trey's brother Jamal.

When considering the world building, Nick Martel injects even more depth into the world of Hollow. For example the magic system in the series is focused on fabrications which give individuals specific powers. However, the more an individual uses these powers, the more they lose their memories. The end outcome of over exerting one's powers is that an individual becomes known as "A Forgotten" resulting in the individual losing ones memory. The author also further expands on the world building by delving into the origins of the magic system, families that existed before current events, the legacy of the Kingman family, immortals, and my favorite, dragons!! I obviously do not want to say too much but Nick Martell's interpretation of dragons was so fresh and new. I was blown away but I have they were connected to the world and the story being told.

One thing that I guess I would have liked to see is a map of hollow and places outside of hollow such as New Dracon City. Throughout the story they are references to places outside of Hollow so it would have been nice to see these places through the map.

Finally in terms of the writing, this book was even more intense than book one. Page after page after page I was on the edge of my seat wondering what on earth is going to happen next. There were so many twists that my mind was going to explode by the end of the book (you bet your ass it did). I have nothing but praise for the author's writing and the way in which everything was executed. Even though there are many serious moments, there is also a lot of humour through Michael, Naomi, and Rock. Nick Martell did really well in balancing humour with seriousness.

Also, although there is a lot going on, Nick Martel does a superb job in balancing all the subplots that are going on i.e. the hunt for a serial killer, the rebellion, the refugees coming into the city of Hollow, uncovering Dark's past, and also the back and forth between Serena and Michael. It was so easy to follow everything that was going on which is always tough when there are multiple plot lines going on. But Nick being Nick knocks it out of the park.

Overall, what can I say except that I absolutely adored and love this book with all my heart. Nick Martell's passion for writing and storytelling really comes off again in the sequel. I absolutely loved the twist and the surprises that were uncovered throughout the story. There were many unexpected moments that I could never have imagined and it was just such a joy when you found out unexpected things. Also, the ending was so emotional but also traumatic because of what happens and I'm so excited for the final book. But I'm also sad because I know I'm going to miss Michael and the world of Hollow so much 😭.
Profile Image for Jeremy Szal.
Author 34 books255 followers
January 23, 2021
Now, this is how you write a sequel.

While the first book showed us a glimpse at the political and social underpinnings of a city in peril, THE TWO-FACED QUEEN throws us right into the middle and adds serial killers, dragons, and mayhem for good measure. There's some truly satisfying and explosive moments in this book, including one that actually saw my jaw dropping open in shock. And I don't shock easy. You'll know the moment when you see it.

I'm not the target audience for slow-burn fantasies. But the engaging characters and dialogue between them - crammed full of insults and delicious sarcasm - gave the book a sharpness that the first, in a way, was lacking. The latter half of this book in particular is an avalanche of emotions, mayhem and brilliance, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.

Fantasy fans would be wise putting this one on their radars.
Profile Image for Manja.
135 reviews14 followers
January 21, 2022
I'm sorry to say this, but this was just... a mess.
It had some potential to me, since I enjoyed the first one, but it just felt like the story completely got lost in where it wanted to go.
Besides, nothing the characters said or did seemed to have any repercussions at all (mainly in the beginning). Some things just plainly didn't make sense to me. This made me lose almost all interest about half way through the book.
Some scenes/dialogue outright bothered me or made me cringe. That said, I didn't really care for anything once I'd almost reached the end.

I'm still giving it two stars, since I can still see the potential in some of the themes and concepts in this world (such as the unreliable narrator and loss/distortion of memories, and the potential betrayals). I don't think that I'm going to read the next book in the series, for now.

Read for the Fantasy Book Club for the month of January
Profile Image for Jo.
63 reviews8 followers
December 13, 2020
Thank you Gollancz and Orion Publishing Group for giving me an advance review copy of The Two-Faced Queen! I have been provided a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found The Kingdom of Liars a solid fantasy debut with intriguing world-building and strong storytelling. The ending of Kingdom of Liars teased this book's titular character's growing involvement in the story, and that got me even more excited to pick up Two-Faced Queen.

The Two-Faced Queen continues Michael Kingsman's story where it last left off: alive, but now an apprentice mercenary to the mysterious Dark while still trying to restore his family name. Further complicating matters, however, Hollow is struck by an assassin and a thought long-gone serial killer on the loose. As Michael and Dark attempt to unravel the mysterious murders, Michael finds himself not only having to regain the trust of those he cares for, but also having to grapple with several shocking truths from Hollow's history. The worldbuilding undergoes a massive expansion, and the world Martell constructed continues to grow richer in its awe-inspiring span.

Michael's narration, his thoughts and feelings continue to be intertwined with his understanding and views of the world around him. He knows things, but there are also times where he stumbles in confusion and uncertainty, worrying that he would someday make a fatal mistake. Martell isn't afraid to throw both Michael (and us readers, who are learning things along with him) into uncertain, confusing, and risky situations and I have to applaud this about his storytelling. It shines more light to this aspect of Michael as a character which makes him all the more human.

Michael is a changed person compared to his persona in Kingdom of Liars, but we readers the only ones so far to know that ;) In fact, Michael not only still has to deal with the general distrust the city of Hollow has for him, but he's also crossed some potentially dangerous people in his previous self-centred exploits. Chief among them is the Princess Serena Hollow, heir to the throne and the royal with a deep, yet strained bond with Michael. With Serena's introduction as the titular Two-Faced Queen, Martell expands his cast as well as giving greater focus to his already existing ones (notably Naomi and Trey). It was refreshing to see that not just Michael, but all the other characters are also portrayed as humanly as Michael is. They stumble, they hurt, and they bleed all the same and it makes everyone involved such a compelling cast. I can definitely see this series being adapted for TV and I would gladly binge-watch the series to see any of them.
(Although I will say that I wish Serena had been featured a lot more given that this is technically her book. She is the most appealing part of this book for me, another testament of Martell's excellent characterization. Ruthless, cunning, yet she wears her heart on her sleeve - her scenes are definitely hard to put down)

Martell significantly pumps up the suspense (naturally, given the serial killer arc) in The Two-Faced Queen. There are many twists and turns in the story, and more of Dark's mysterious past revealed to be a lot more important to the overarching narrative. Furthermore, Michael's growing use of Fabrications also begin to take its toll on his memory, his narration beginning to have more widening gaps. I loved how this injected a sense of paranoia probing at the fear of losing important information that you might not be able to ever recover — adding to the growing suspense in the book. As exciting as this book was, however, it all becomes too much at some point (I think momentarily my brain shut down) and going through the book can be a slog given the onslaught of information/events/twists, which is why I wouldn't really recommend reading this book in one sitting (rather, read it in bite-able chunks).

Martell also takes the opportunity to showcase his veracity in his storytelling: his combat scenes are raw, quick, and brutal. There's not much waiting for the enemy to mess up, and there's more visceral, bloody, and painful strikes which his characters take the brunt for. Somehow this is reminiscent of Anna Stephens's approach to combat battles in her Godblind series.

The Two-Faced Queen concludes its whirlwind of a story with more conflicts to come, more mistakes (and dread for their consequences), and a promise for an exciting adventure as Martell prepares to expand his story beyond Hollow's walls. It is definitely a much wilder ride compared to its predecessor, and Martell's dropped one too many explosive revelations for me to be able to tell the direction this series is going.

All in all, though, Martell's The Two-Faced Queen is a strong follow up expanding on his storytelling strengths: compelling characters and narratives; and strong, evocative world-building that only continues to grow richer as it expands its scope.

The Two-Faced Queen is available for pre-order, scheduled to release on 23 March 2021 (US)/25 March 2021 (UK). My review can also be found here.
Profile Image for Cole.
150 reviews14 followers
April 15, 2021
Read this review (and hundreds more) at The Quill To Live.

Last year, I chose Nick Martell’s The Kingdom of Liars as one of my Dark Horse selections. In fact, it was one of two picks on my list. In my review, I lauded the book’s lightning-quick pace and worldbuilding, hoping it would herald a new fantasy saga to watch. The Two-Faced Queen, Martell’s second installment, dashed those hopes.

The Two-Faced Queen picks up immediately after The Kingdom of Liars. Michael’s myriad quests begin anew, and plenty of novel challenges are thrown his way. Michael Kingman has been accused of murdering the king of The Hollows, much like his father was accused of killing the nation’s prince years ago. The accusation, though false, turns much of the country against Michael and leaves him with few allies. His saving grace is the Orbis Mercenary Company. Dark, a member of said company, saved Michael from execution by committing him to a blood oath that bound him to the group. Under the mercenaries’ protection, Michael seeks to restore his family’s legacy, prove he didn’t kill the king, and regain the memories he lost to Fabrications, the series’ magic system. But when a serial killer returns to The Hollows, Michael has to hunt the murderer down, too.

I’ve managed a rudimentary plot summary here. But I have to confess: I had a really hard time figuring out exactly what was going on in The Two-Faced Queen. Imagine a rock skipping across a still lake. It touches the water ever-so-briefly, each jump shorter than the last. And though the rock sends ripples across the lake, it only becomes a part of the larger world across which it travels when it sinks to the bottom. The Two-Faced Queen is all skip, no sink. There’s no moment to breathe. Michael jumps from one plot thread to the next with reckless abandon. Storylines from The Kingdom of Liars return, then new ones take the stage with tenuous (at best) connections to the overall narrative. The stone that serves as this book’s story simply skips along in perpetuity. We see the ripples, the surface-level impact of Michael’s actions, but we never understand what it all means. The history of The Hollows and its surrounding nations is so thin that there’s nothing to latch onto. I gave The Kingdom of Liars a pass for this very issue in the hopes that it would resolve itself in book two. But here, it’s worse.

There’s a vibrant, glorious fantasy world hidden beneath the layers of Martell’s world. Unfortunately, it’s a world that seems better fleshed out in the author’s mind than it is on the page. So many factions and groups inhabit The Hollows, it’s hard to keep track. Beyond their distinctive names–Scales, Ravens, Skeletons, and more–it’s near-impossible to tell them apart.

The same goes for the characters. Michael interacts with royals, Ravens, frenemies, tentative allies, mercenaries, and many others. On the page, the only thing that distinguishes one character from another is a name and possibly an ability to use magic. Most of the characters within seem to exist for the sole purpose of witty banter with Michael. They enter stage left, have a conversation with Michael (or a brief fight), then exit stage right. Rinse and repeat. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if the dialogue didn’t feel so forced and unnatural. There’s no difference in tone from one character to the next, and the conversational tapestry of The Two-Faced Queen is threaded with clichés.

Fabrications and Weaving, two of the book’s magic systems, suffer from similar technical drawbacks. Weaving is only hinted at in this book, and will likely appear in the next. Fabrications remain an enigma, though the price of using them (losing memories) is still a cool-as-hell idea. The problem? I have no idea how they actually work. Some people are Fabricators while others are not, and it’s unclear how Fabricators get their powers. Again, hinted at in this book, but not enough to lure me to the next. When Michael uses his Fabrications, which can simply nullify other Fabrications, he mentions a “warmth” in his chest. He redirects it toward his target. The descriptions of the magic system in action leave a lot to be desired, and based on the limited lore the book doles out, I’m not exactly clamoring to learn more.

All-in-all, The Two-Faced Queen squanders many of the promises made in The Kingdom of Liars. And it’s important to note that some readers will likely enjoy the quickfire fun that this novel offers. But it lacked the depth I felt I needed after the first installment, and surface-level fun won’t cut it for another ~600-page book.
Profile Image for ☆Lily☆.
99 reviews9 followers
June 6, 2021
Oh what a sequel!!!

This second installment in the Legacy of the Mercenary King is even more gripping than the first one.

Like The Kingdom of Liars the Two-Faced Queen is told by a first person narrator, who is again the main character of the book: Michael Kingman. He is the middle child of the three children of the Kingman family: Lyon, Micheal and Gwen. Their father was executed for having killed the King’s oldest son and in that progress the children were branded as traitors. At the end of the first book Michael is accused of killing the King despite him committing suicide. To escape execution he joins the Mercenary company

The world the story is set in is a cruel one, which we already see as children get punished for the sins their fathers committed. Hollow is still a feudal system with the King and his high nobles having all the power. Those nobles are the ones that can use magic or have an army of magicians. The price to be able to do magic, or as it is called here, fabrications, is the loss of memories, especially if you’re not properly trained in those skills.

The book is fully packed with different characters of different types of people of different parts of society: High nobles, low nobles, fabricators, ravens, scales, skeletons and so on. It took me a while to figure out who is who and what. There is a huge cobweb of intrigues and plots that gets slowly unravelled and left me clueless till the very end. This ending really surprised me as I didn’t expect it at all.

It took me a while to get into the world the story is set in and I am still not sure I completely understood it all but that didn’t harm the story at all. It also took me a while to get used to the use of guns in a fantasy book as I am usually reading kind of medieval fantasy. So this world is on the brink of a new technological development stage. But of course the nobles who can use magic want to keep the common people from gaining power by using advanced weapon technology, so guns are banned in the city of Hollow.

The revolution of the rebells, under the leadership of an immortal, want to abolish royalty and the nobles and they try to take over the city.

There is also a murder case which is getting solved. Despite me not normally liking murder stories I immensely enjoyed the hunt for the Heartbreaker.

In addition to the topic of friendship there is also a developing love story here.

The book is really gripping, even if I am not sure I understood everything well enough. I cannot wait to read the finally installment in the series to find all the missing pieces to the riddles that appeared here.

I did not only read the book, I once more also listened to it on audible. I enjoyed the way Joe Jameson made the characters come to life and the way he used different voices for the different characters. I can recommend both versions for book as they’re both excellent entertainment.
Profile Image for Koeur.
1,065 reviews20 followers
November 1, 2022
Publishing Date: 2021
Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.9/5

Review: This installment flows nicely from the first, embracing the growth of Michael as a magic user whom trends towards adulthood.

Mr. Kingman is mostly a PITA to others that vie for presence in the story line and I liked that annoying rub as it lent flavor to a finite world. He is so many things to others in the play that a big helping of suspended belief is needed in order to be palatable. Like Liz says “Fek it” just have fun and enjoy the ride, and a wild one it is.

This story is not over and while this felt like a filler novel before the finale’, it is still a grand escape.
Profile Image for Jamedi.
178 reviews32 followers
December 26, 2022
Full review text: https://jamreads.com/reviews/the-two-...

The Kingdom of Liars surprised me for the good, being a great debut from Nick Martell, so The Two-Faced Queen is a book I picked with great expectations, and with a little bit of fear, as sometimes the second books tend to be the weakest in trilogies. Gladly, I can say that my fear was unfounded, and personally, I enjoyed this novel more than the first one, as it expanded several aspects of the world that were left short in The Kingdom of Liars.

Michael Kingman was almost executed accused of a crime he didn't commit, while trying to end the rebellion and clear the Kingman's family name. Now, his fate is bound to the mercenary Dark, tied to the Orbis Company. Hollow is on the border of a civil war, with an empty throne after the death of King Isaac; the Corrupt Prince and his sister Serena are competing for it, and the Rebel Emperor is trying to spread discontent among the people of Hollow. And every single of them wants to see Michael dead, for more or fewer reasons.

In this instance of the series, many of the characters we got to know in the first book get expanded, while some new ones are introduced. While the Corrupt Prince had a big spotlight in TKoL, in this novel it gets moved to Serena, who becomes a really interesting character, and a contradicting one due to her actions. Martell's certainly improved his work on the characters in this novel; and honestly, I loved getting to know the past of Dark, and how he became what he is.

The threat of a serial killer who has returned after many years terrorizes Hollow. And it adds more to the previously high stakes of this story; Michael's mission is really difficult, having to keep the name of his family, while at the same time avoiding being assassinated, not only by this killer, but also by the several people he has offended. He also needs to get more formation about Fabrications, and how to gain advantages from his Nullification fabrications. 

Talking about Fabrications, the system gets better explained in this book, giving us more info about how different types appeared, and how it evolves. At the same time, more magical elements get introduced and explained in the world, such as dragons and Immortals, expanding the internal lore of it. Magic from other countries/places appears, and it is used as a foreshadowing of what could be shown in the third book, while also introducing the rest of the world to us.

I won't talk much about the plot, because I think part of the enjoyment of this book is on discovering and theorizing about the different secrets that are part of Hollow, but I have to admit that all the previous work done in the first book gets paid off in this one, engaging you. The pace is kinda irregular at some points, having the same structure as TKoL, with a slower first part used to build the foundations for an explosive second half. Martell also shows his talent to write impactful scenes, shocking you with the outcome of some of them (and honestly, each time Serena takes the spotlight is highly memorable).

The Two-Faced Queen is an excellent sequel to TKoL, and proof that Martell has the talent to write epic fantasy. I loved the fact that despite being epic fantasy, the whole novel is circumscribed

to one city, proving that there isn't the necessity for a big world to write epic fantasy. At this point, I just wonder how will be The Voyage of the Forgotten, because for sure I want to spend more time with Michael Kingman.
Profile Image for Lara Harrison.
35 reviews
August 31, 2021
I received a copy of this book from Goodreads (thank you). It is the second book in the series so I had to buy and read the first book, The Kingdom of Liars, first. I really enjoyed them both. Michael Kingman, the protagonist, is a very likeable character. He is sarcastic and self-effacing, noble and loyal. He gets himself into all sorts of dangerous situations to protect the honor of his family and friends (friends ARE family). The supporting cast are all interesting characters and together they create an entertaining fantasy adventure series. I am looking forward to the next book!
Profile Image for Katy.
645 reviews424 followers
February 24, 2021
3.5 stars

The Two-Faced Queen is the sequel to The Kingdom of Liars, following Michael Kingman after he has been framed for the murder of the King of Hollow. Set in a world where the cost of magic is losing memories and secrets about the city and it's history are coming to light.

A serial killer has made a recurrence in the city, alongside Michael being accused of killing the king and being in the warpath of the princess Serena, soon to be the queen. Michael and Serena were childhood best friends but now Serena hates him. In order to save himself from execution he is protected by the company he works for as well as agreeing to investigate the murders. There is a lot going on in this book and I feel like the first half suffers a bit from feeling directionless with too much going on.

For me the second half of the novel was a LOT stronger than the first. I feel like the plot becomes a lot more cohesive and starts moving in a direction that was really enjoyable, with some great reveals! I loved learning about the dragons and Dark's agenda. Also the whole heart eating thing was slightly creepy but also ngl I loved reading about it and how it fit into the story.

While I didn't love any of the characters enough to bump this up to 4 stars, I really liked Naomi and Chloe (basically the gay characters lol) and I feel like once Naomi came into the story it really started picking up for me. Michael was a decent character and fairly solid for a main character, there was nothing I disliked about him but I didn't quite feel a deep emotional connection. I did really like the villians though (pretends to be shocked), I always like it when villians have well portrayed motivations and we get to see a bit of their backstory. I wasn't a big fan of the "romance" between Michael and Serena, although I usually love the childhood best friends to lovers trope I didn't really feel the connection between them and the dynamic just felt a bit off to me.

In conclusion I had a fun time reading this but it probably won't stick in my mind.
Profile Image for Zandt McCue.
198 reviews24 followers
November 22, 2020
The worst part about The Two-Faced Queen is that it ended.

Years ago, I was out dining with family when it was commented on that I always order the same thing and I was made to order a Filet Mignon instead. The irony here is that whenever we went to a restaurant that had Crab Cakes on the menu, that would be what my Father ordered after going over the entire menu. Without a doubt. Every time. When the food came, I noticed that the Filet was small and of course it was gone in a flash. That cut is considered to be one of the best. The perfect, most tender slice. The Two-Faced Queen is that Filet Mignon. If the book had been a quarter as perfect, but double the size, I would still have gobbled it down like the mortal enemy of cows that I am.

I wish I had kept a log or filmed myself while reading this so that you could observe how many times I said "Jesus Christ!" or cursed. I can tell you that I read this on my Kindle and at 11% was my first Jesus Christ moment and around the 90% mark was a full-blown "What the ****?" This has shock, after shock, after shock, after shock.

The Two-Faced Queen continues the story of Michael Kingsman while leaving the comfort so many book series find themselves in. There's a level many books find themselves in. Mistborn, for instance, even though the stakes get higher and the world expands has a constant feel to it. What Nick Martell does here is "I've already done that, this is where we are, and it's about to explode." Michael's redemption is prevalent but everyone comes up to bat in this book. Trey & Naomi have wonderful storylines. I was beyond excited to have the Princess be in the spotlight this time around as her brother was a force in the first book. Every scene she had in Kingdom of Liars always got my attention. Martell even threw in an appearance by Em, the Baker's daughter. He's smart enough to take us on a different adventure while reminding us we are still in the same world. Talented, damn it.

And these people feel real. They aren't cardboard cutouts of generic fantasy characters. They curse and they **** and they tease and they hurt and they bleed just like the rest of us. Without having to kneel to the Grimdark side of things to have personalities. This is something newer writers should take note of. There's a way to express people without being a caricature. Evan Winter is another writer who is good with this.

What was really badass this time around was that the plot includes both an assassin and a serial killer on the loose. They contribute to the craziness but there is no escaping the situation surrounding the Princess, Michael, and Dark. The mystery surrounding Dark is a huge focal point. You could easily argue for him to be on the cover of this book. Speaking of which, both covers are absolutely beautiful.

God, so much happens in this book that it's hard to talk about without giving out other key information. As I'm rewinding it in my head I'm remembering other details that conveniently slipped away and must most likely be waiting for us in book three. I'm still stunned at some reveals. I even was so caught off guard at one point that I threw my Kindle down and had to get up from the couch and shake it off.

Minor Spoilers:

Overall, this is a solid book from a solid writer. The type of book we read for. I'm honored to have been able to read it early.

I'll leave off with one of my favorite quotes from the book because I absolutely loved it. Spoilers only because it's wonderful to come across these things on your own as you read. It doesn't affect the story at all.

For what it's worth, as I can't have milk or eat Chocolate without suffering, the cows truly have the upper hand in our rivalry.
Profile Image for Dianna .
215 reviews
February 25, 2021
“History is defined by moments. Moments of bravery. Moments of foolishness. Moments of compassion. Moments of hate. These moments are impossible to identify when they happen, and usually only seen in hindsight.”

3.5 ⭐️ This was such a wonderfully thought out plot. So many little details that the author wove together to tell an epic story. The story and the intricate details enthralled me and had me eager to keep reading one.

Personally I didn’t care for the tempo of the writing. While the story and characters were wonderful and I was fully invested in the story I found my mind wondering at times due to slow moments that lasted a bit too long.

Overall a wonderful story that shows off the talents of Nick Martell
46 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2021
This book was fabulous, a thrilling continuation from the first book and I can't wait for more. As with his first book, Nick Martell sends twists and turns that you frankly do not see coming, leaving you with a truly OMG did that just happen reaction that you experience almost continuously throughout the entire book. A must read!!
Profile Image for Alyssa (Intotheheartwyld).
350 reviews9 followers
March 10, 2021
I would like to start with saying thank you to Netgalley and Saga Press for providing me with an early Arc in exchange for an honest review.

The Two-Faced Queen is the sequel to the Kingdom of Liars and while its a direct follow up, I can't deny that it does do a good job standing on its own. The author included a "Story so far" page and that alone did a great job giving a quick run down of what happened in the first book. Everything else about The Two-Faced Queen minus the characters, location and few mentions of events in book one, make this sequel feel like a standalone.

Now don't go thinking that's a bad thing, the stories do still connect, but there were plot points that felt extremely important in the first book that where only mentioned with a passing glance in book two. For example, I did not get more information on Celona the Moon, which I will be honest made me super disappointed. Hopefully that will be tackled in the third book, or I am sorely invested in the wrong story element.

The first half I struggled with, which was the same issue I had with the first book, but only this time, the story felt all over the place, and almost directionless. I just didn't understand where the plot was going which fed into the feeling that it was its own standalone story, I was struggling to connect the main plot of this story to the plot in the first book, and it doesn't really, aside from it being a plot to delve more into the magic system and who Dark is. And don't even get me started on that guy, I am so unbelievably confused over my feelings towards him now. The entire story just turned into an entire mystery story, from learning about the past, to Dark and the magic, every thing was a mystery.

Speaking of the magic system we did learn more about it, we also learned that apparently no one in this book likes to answers questions, which I will be honest became an annoyance through out the story. Every time Michael asked questions he got half answers or was told he would learn soon enough. You can only feed me so many breadcrumbs before I get annoyed and stop caring. I wanted to learn the same things Michael was wanting to learn but so much was just left unanswered for the longest time, this including how the magic of the world works and there are still parts I don't have answers too. While it took majority of the book to get some of these answers the journey to get them was frustrating.

The parts of the magic system that was finally revealed took me by surprise and left me shocked. I wasn't expecting the reveals we got, I'm not going to delve into what exactly happens as that would ruin the fun for someone else, but it seems the running idea of sacrifice for magic use works no matter what part of the world you live in, what is sacrificed is what is different and two in particular left me uncomfortable but I have to give credit they are an uncommon use that I have come across in books so I can appreciate the creativeness behind them, they are just uncomfortable.. So I'm interested to see where things go in the next book, since not all the places and how they use their magic was revealed in this installment.

The second half of the book was where things finally started to make sense and come together and the pace really picked up and just grabbed my attention and kept me hooked. Reveals of who or what someone was was finally coming to light. Plans where starting to roll into motion and lives where being lost. And what ultimately brings my rating from a 3 to a 4 was the end made me cry, it brought tears over characters who I didn't think I would be upset over, but it freaking did. The same exact thing happened in book 1, the end got me and made me feel so many emotions and the questions, not all of them, but some none the less were finally answered. Of course there are now more questions that need to be answered and I want to know them, so Of course I'm going to be reading the 3rd book in this series.

Maybe this review comes off negative, I hope it doesn't, I really did enjoy it, the first half was just a struggle and it was difficult to follow along at times due to every characters inability to answer a question straight forward, but the later half is totally worth it, and just action packed and captivating.

Oh I will say, I noticed a lot of people where happy with Michael in this book not being as "Dumb" and "stupid" as he was in the first book, I would like to kindly say I am in the minority here and I missed that aspect of him so much. His bad choices and dumb decisions where what made me fall in love his character and I just at times felt like I wasn't reading the same Michael in this book, please make him do dumb stuff again haha.
Profile Image for Xerxes.
185 reviews20 followers
February 23, 2021
This review contains spoilers and I received an ARC from Netgalley so all thoughts are my opinion. Thank you to Will O Mullane, Gollancz, and Nick Martell for this!

Michael Kingman deserves a bloody break. Actually, I’d be swearing right now when I’m writing this review as I am so emotional writing this. A masterpiece. A true masterpiece! The Two-Faced Queen is a fantastic book, it improves upon the sequel in so many ways. It made me go emotional I had my fists bawling in certain high moments. High tension action, gripping drama, and so many secrets. This book is a temple of secrets. That I can say without a shadow of a doubt. This is a story that had me broken down to tears. A story, that had I looked at it again, would still cry over. I am so amazed, and yet so sad and so happy at the same time. This is a story of triumph over evil. I don’t care how grim-dark it is, there is an element of heroic scope in this story. An understanding. A very mature understanding of the grim realities of what is a hero, and what is a villain. I can see my own bias towards Michael in this story. And to be honest, I don’t mind at all. I have not seen such a character like him, and neither would I ever want to again, because a character like Michael achieves so much in this novel, that he may be the very best definition of what defines an actual anti-hero. He is like Jorg Ancrath from Mark’s Lawrence’s The Broken Empire trilogy, similar but not too familiar. Jorg is more of a coward, whereas Michael is more of a villain trying to be a hero. If these two were to ever meet, I am sure they’d have a lot to talk about. A lot.

I just want to get this out of my system. The people treating Michael as a person who’s a liar, a man that lies to protect his family, are so rude and bad to him I was wondering for a second. Michael may not be the best hero, nor the best villain. But he is Niccolò Machiavelli reborn. He is a clever man. The result of his upbringing of being branded a traitor for something his father was accused of, does not mean that all the people in this world have to be rude to him. I’d argue that most of the characters were far more selfish and evil. Michael is an innocent human being that was beset by powerful figures such as the cunning Angelo, his foster father, and Domet. A man whose’s motives are still shrouded even to this day. And the entire conflict between the Hollow and the Kingman family. Jeez the Hollow’s need to give it a break. They really need to.

Do you know who I’m most angry at? Serena. She is no doubt grieving over the loss of her father. But I ask. What did Serena’s family do to help King Issac’s mental health? Easy, let’s put the blame on Michael because he is there! Although Serena does improve at the end. And Naomi, who is a great character, I just have to say stop flirting with Michael when you have feelings for another person. This, this right here. You see my emotions coming alive as I write this review? This is the hallmark of a great writer. This is the stuff of legends. This is what stories are made of. This is how you tell a story. Kingman may never seek to be a hero, he may never seek to be a good man. But he has a curse. A curse to help people and get insulted by those that were his friends and are still his friends. Trey and Rock? Best characters. I don’t want Trey and Kingman to confront…but there is a chance.

Was I a character in this story, I’d be a High Archmage that could be a Spellborn mage that can manipulate memories for good. Not bad. And I’d say to most of Michael’s friends and enemies. That man has sacrificed himself for you. He’s done a lot more in this book, been on the receiving curse of endless insults, of endless banter. Perhaps you lot could be a little more grateful. If Michael were gone, I’d bet you would miss him. Because I have never seen such a character like Michael, and nor should I ever hope to. I do not think I would want to see a character like that, who has achieved so much throughout all the ups and downs he’s gone through. In the end, Michael has one of the best redemption arcs in this entire novel. And Nick, you’ve done it. I don’t know what structure you used. I know when I read your tweets about writing this novel and how you were struggling through it. Guess what? This was worth every minute. Every minute of blood, sweat, and tear that went into the making of the Two-Faced Queen’s manuscript has worked. I have discovered so many secrets, that I wonder what I would do with all that knowledge. I pity Michael, for he has a far greater destiny ahead of him. A far greater one.

Remembered memories are bitter and sweet, are they not? This novel will take you all over the place. You will discover heart-breaking secrets, engage in vicious brutal combat, and witness some of the most horrifying scenes you’ll see. The quality and level of writing are akin to that of the writers who write the scripts for Elder Scrolls Online, Dragon Age Inquisition, and God of War. Some criticism I’ve had is I’ve noticed there are a lot of noble families. I would have wanted more simplification of them. Another thing is I need a map. There are so many new empires, kingdoms that I want to explore, plus pirates and ships! This world is much bigger. I say dear reader when you read the first book, the Kingdom of Liars, this book expands. And it expands wonderfully. Dark is one of the deepest, best characters I’ve read. He still holds more secrets than I know.

And Angelo is a horrendous being. As was Dark’s Grandfather. As is nearly everyone except Gwen, Dawn, Trey, Rock, Michael, Juliet, Domet, the King of Stories, and the true villains of this story. And a request. I want more of the King of Stories. There is a certain place called the Gold Coast…and I say to Nick, give me pirates, give me oceans, give me glorious naval battles, give me sun-baked deserts, and give me Arabian-style fantasy, please. Let me meet with the Sultans of the Gold Coast, or something like that. Oh and just have Serena and Michael marry each other and break the stupid rigid traditions that their family imposes on them please? It’s clearly evident, the two are in love with each other. I don’t need to be Odin in American Gods to figure that one out from the first book! I’m shipping them now.

You, sir, have done a tremendous book. This is one of those books where my criticism, is naught but few! This is one of those books you need to have on your bookshelf. But it is imperative that you buy both: The Kingdom of Liars Book 1, and the Two-Faced Queen Book 2. Without these two in order, you will not understand the chain of events that link this book together. It is fantastic, and I thoroughly recommend this novel! Thoroughly!
Profile Image for Sibil.
1,277 reviews61 followers
August 29, 2021
4.5 stars
Thanks to NetGalley and to the Editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Let me say this: there is something really painful in reading a book in which we have snow and cold and frigid air while, in your little corner of the real world, you sweat just for the privilege of being alive. (And no, lucky me, at the moment the weather here is not that bad, but in the days in which I was reading this book, well… It was pretty bad!).
And sure, on one hand it was a relief to be able to imagine the cold and the snow, to feel them at least a little bit. But it was also torture. This little reflection aside (okay, it was more me complaining about the weather than a real reflection but it is just a detail!) this is a terrific book.

I loved the first one and I was a bit scared that this one would have not met my high expectations, but my fears were unmotivated. This book was great! And you know what is even better? That it was so captivating that I devoured it!
It is quite a chunky book, but it didn’t feel like it. It is not that it is really fast-paced, it felt more like even-paced at that, at least to me, but there is so much going on (sometimes a bit too much, if I am being completely honest) that you just don’t have time to feel bored. And you are compelled to turn page after page because you just have to understand what is happening or you need to know what would happen next. Simply as that.

And Michael is a great narrator. Sure, he may not be the most reliable narrator out there, but I loved him more for this. And he is an amazing MC. He is young, and in this respect, this is a series about growing, too. Becoming an adult, discover some hard truths, and learn to assume responsibility.
And it is about making mistakes, even big, atrocious ones, and trying to make amend for that. But it is also about the importance of having other people around us, our safety net, being from family or friendship. And sometimes even people who are not really our friends can lend a hand in growing and in building our really needed net.

And we have some interesting characters with our MC here. I am not the biggest fan of Michael’s brother, and I really hope to see less of him around, and from time to time I was really exasperated by Serena, even if I liked her, at least for the most part. She is intriguing when she is not exasperating. And she has a ton of potential. I’d love to see the queen she would become!
Dark is one of the most mysterious people out there. And we make some unexpected discoveries about him. And even if they help to make some light on him and his father, they rise some pretty big questions too. Because now guessing where the story would take us is even harder than before. But hey! I am not complaining here, at all. I am eager to know what would happen next and to see where the story would take us to. And I cannot wait! And there are some other pretty interesting characters in there, Dawn, The King of Stories, Oliver, Rock, just to name a few. They all are alive on these pages and they are a nice addition to the story.

And last but not least, a bit about the plot. This book is full of action, mysteries to solve, things to prove, rebellion, betrayals, twists, and revelations. There is just so much going on! And sometimes it is a bit too much. Our characters have a limited amount of time to accomplish some pretty difficult tasks, namely, they have a week. So you know that what you are reading is somehow a week-long thing. But sometimes it feels like weeks, at best. And this is because there is really too much going on. The good thing is that you won’t be bored, because there is always something important going on, and the author manages to keep all the balls going, he doesn’t lose some of them during the narration and all things would get a solution or something. Nothing is forgotten or dismissed. And this is good. Really. But sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. But all in all, had a great time with this second volume and I am pretty eager to read the next one!!
Profile Image for Sarmat Chowdhury.
580 reviews11 followers
May 5, 2021
Book 2 in the Legacy of the Mercenary Kings, Nick Martell returns to the story of Michael Kingman, our doomed main character in the Kingdom of Hollow as he attempts to clear his name and his family name and return the family to the High Noble status that they had - all the while being apprenticed to one of the most feared mercenaries in the land, the Princess who is hell bent on killing him, his few friends that (don't) hate him refuse to talk to him, and he still can't figure out how to save the city from the rebel army outside of the gates.

We get introduced to some new characters, and see a return of some favorites from the first book, "The Kingdom of Liars". More importantly though, we get to see Michael grow from this at times whiny kid, to a young man who is more than capable of assuming the mantle of his family name and legacy.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I have noticed that many readers have either found the book to suffer from middle book syndrome, or they were not able to mesh with the writing style and narration from Michael. I actually enjoy these two things; the narration from Michael are fun because cannot be relied on as a narrator, and the writing style challenges the established patterns in fantasy. I think at times people forget that as the author has stated in the past, the story of Michael Kingman is supposed to be a tragedy - and that is exactly why it is so fun to read. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!
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