The Brooding Crown – Meg Cowley 

*I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.*

Blurb:  Where is the line between good and evil?

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?

The Brooding Crown is the second in the Caledan series and the strongest so far.  I feel you would definitely need to have read the first book, The Tainted Crown first, and strongly recommend reading the short prequel, The First Crown too, as that sets the legendary history behind the whole plot (you can find the link to download it for free here).

While The Tainted Crown introduced us to the main players and their initial challenges, The Brooding Crown develops them much further, rounding them out into deeper and more complex people, and thereby making their reactions to their new situations less predictable.  In this novel, Soren has apparently suceeded in his mission from book 1, but rests uneasy and has to fight for what he already thought he had won, whilst finding out that there is more behind ruling than simply winning and wearing the crown.  Eve has to face the consequences of being a female in a patriarchal society as she is matched up with a suitable husband and has to decide whether to follow her heart to the man she truly loves, or follow her heart to the strength and freedom that comes from realising her own true potential:  much more interesting than the old head vs. heart battle!

We also see a deepening in the character of Zaki in this installment.  Previously he was somewhat of an evil cypher (I compared him to Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin!), but with more of his point of view coming through we get to understand him much better, and whilst he remains thoroughly unpleasant, the greater understanding unavoidably creates more empathy towards him.  This in turn made me question the character’s labelling of Bahr as purely evil:  is anyone truly ‘pure evil’ once we can see through their eyes and understand their feelings and motivations?

I was interested that rather than mirroring each other this time round, Soren and Eve’s stories seemed to be on opposite paths; with the odds turning against Eve’s fight as they improved for Soren.  However both suffered great losses in their journeys, and it is becoming clearer that the fate of Caledan will rest on their individual endeavours without as much support as they hope for or even need…which makes it all the more nerve-wracking; especially as we see the ‘older and wiser’ societies of their allies, the dragons and the Eldarkind, respectively splintering and fading.

Overall this is a great second installment in the Caledan series and really moves things along in terms of plot and character, whilst also stepping it up a notch:  tougher decisions, bigger dangers, more complex morality.  I look forward to the climax of this series with great excitement.

“Can I trust anyone in this?”

Edmund paused. “No,” he said frankly.  “The sons of your enemies could be your friends, yet the sons of your friends could well be your enemies.  Judge each person on their own merit, but be careful in whom you place your confidence.”

That sounds far too much like a riddle.

– Meg Cowley, The Brooding Crown

For my review of the previous books in this series, click the link here.

You can find out more about Meg Cowley and her work at her website here, or contact her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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