The Brooding Crown

The Brooding Crown

by Meg Cowley

3.5 out of 5

Synopsis
What is the price of kingship?

Soren has defeated his usurping uncle and the semblance of peace has returned to Caledan, but surrounded by the twelve noble houses of Caledan, King Soren can trust few. In the shadows, treasonous thoughts grow. When news of Zaki’s presence in Roher reaches Soren, can he ally all of Caledan to his cause – and keep them?

Zaki has not given up on his plans to regain Caledan’s throne. First he must prove himself to Harad, the mighty king of Roher, but Zaki will stop at nothing to gain the support of Roher’s army, march on Caledan’s borders and take back the throne of the dragon kings.

War returns to Caledan, but a greater threat looms. The pact is broken. The Eldarkind are fading. The dragons war amongst themselves. A power too terrible to name grows in the North, and He seeks revenge. Only Eve stands in His way – but can she stop magic as old as time?

Return to Caledan for the thrilling, fast-paced sequel to The Tainted Crown.



Review
Soren overthrows his usurping uncle from the throne of Caledan, which should have been the young prince's greatest challenge. But now he has to rule a kingdom filled with treacherous nobles, and the rumours of Zaki's return.

I bought a signed copy from the author at last year's UK Indie Lit Fest, which was pretty awesome. I had meant to read this earlier, but I moved house and a lot of my books are still in boxes (appalling, I know)!

This is the second book in the Caledan trilogy. It has several narrators, but the main ones are Soren, the rightful King of Caledan, trying to establish his rule; his cousin Eve embraces her magic and a new challenge; and evil Uncle Zaki licks his wounds, and plots in the background.

The Brooding Crown is a perfect description, as our main characters realise that, just because they won one battle, it does not mean everything will be smooth-sailing afterwards.
Soren struggles to balance who to trust, with his dependency on the noble families. Despite having already fought a major battle, the young man knows there will be further conflict.
Eve is torn between her duty to her father, and her desire to follow her own path. Following tradition, she is expected to marry a suitor of her father's choosing; but Eve cannot forget Luke, or the life of freedom she experienced when training in magic.

I found this book stronger than the first in the series, as you get to see the characters develop. They become more than the standard trope.
Soren struggles with the pressure of kingship, as it becomes clear that his strong morals are going to have to bend, unless he wants to hand the crown back to his uncle and his hidden supporters.
Zaki, in particular, became a much fuller character, no longer a caricature of evilness. I was pleasantly surprised that I started to enjoy his sections, as the spoilt would-be-king wallows in his failure. He continues to make dubious decisions, as he bides his time.

In some aspects it was a weaker book. It definitely felt like the middle of a trilogy, where everyone deals with what happened in book 1, and sets up for book 3.
There are some big moments scattered throughout the story, but a lot of the book has the feeling of waiting.
On the whole, the story came across a little rushed, as though even the author was keen to get on with the final book.

Overall, this was a 3.5 out of 5 for me. I will be continuing with The Shattered Crown.

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