With Crown of Conspiracy and its prequel Song of Shadows, Kara has crafted two highly addictive reads. The review will mostly cover Crown of Conspiracy, with a little bit about Song of Shadows at the end as well.
Crown of Conspiracy is a book you can’t put down (or if you must, it’s tough to bring yourself to do it). I should know, I’ve spent many nights arguing with myself if I actually needed to go to bed or if I could finish just one more chapter. It remained that way until I was too tired to continue. If you love intrigue, slow-burning romance, kick-ass heroine, and mystery, this is the book for you!
Shalitha is the protagonist of this story, the Ilvannian Tarien, the Princess, and in line to inherit the throne. It is the law that only women can rule Ilvannia, though she doesn’t really want it yet, feeling too trapped in her own home. Luckily, Ilvannians tend to become very old, so she doesn’t have to worry about it yet. This changes when a conspiracy seems aimed at her family and Shalitha sets out to find the truth. However, this may appear more dangerous than she thought.
“Stop worrying Tarien. You cannot save the entire world.”
“I know,” I murmured, “but I can at least try.”
Kara created some memorable and very lovable characters in this story. Shalitha is headstrong, adventures, and smart, though sometimes weighed down with her responsibilities and the judgment of her mother. I love her most in her interactions with others; she always has excellent comebacks, and reading her banter with her brother’s or with Talnovar was a delight. Speaking of Tal: I love the guy. He’s always there for Shalitha, teaches her to fight, and will always defend her. Granted, he has to, because he’s her Arathrien (sort of personal bodyguard), but he does so much more than just his duty. I very much want them to end up together, and I’m also thrilled that the next book has chapters from his viewpoint.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in charge as long as everyone does their job.”
The world-building was another great point of this book. Because Shal is the Tarien, you get a sense of how Ilvannia is ruled, what the social situations are, and how the politics work. The different rituals were fascinating to read and added to the authenticity of the Ilvannians and their culture.
The story starts off a bit slower, which gives you a chance to ease into the world. Either way, after the slow start, the pace really picks up, and there is plenty of action to go around. There were times I felt some things seemed slightly repetitive, but those were followed by great twists and turns that reignited my interest at the right time. On the other hand, I had some difficulty finding out what kind of story it was going to be. Was this going to be an action story? Would it be focussed on romance? However, after the pace picks up it becomes clearer, and it seems to follow the structure of a thriller or crime story.
“I probably offended people simply by existing if my aunt was any indication, so I might as well give them a reason.”
Song of Shadows
In addition, there is also the prequel to The Ilvannian Chronicles, namely Song of Shadows. While it shows events that happened previous to Crown of Conspiracy, I’d still recommend reading it after you’ve read Crown of Conspiracy. It will make some of the twists in Crown of Conspiracy have more of an impact.
“No matter what you choose, either can work or fail – there’s never a sure-fire way to go about it, never a guarantee you will win. It’s all a game of chance as much as it’s a game of strategy.“
Song of Shadows shows the background of characters you will meet in the 1st book of the series, and how they influenced Ilvannian’s future. It’s a quick read, as it is only around 140 pages long, so perfect for an afternoon or evening of reading.
In the novella, we follow Arayda and Azra, two sisters. Arayda is the youngest and a great strategist. Azra is the middle, Shaleira being her older twin and heir to the throne. Azra is resentful of her older sister, especially for all the attention their mother gives her. However, a rebellion rises, and the three sisters need to combine their strength to save Ilvanna. The characters of Arayda and Azra felt real, and I could sympathize with both of them. The switches of POV were a nice touch in that they showed you how they also viewed each other.
To wrap it all up, both stories will keep you captivated and will have you go through several states of emotion when you’ve finished them.
All in all, Crown of Conspiracy had me hooked from beginning to end. If you enjoy reading high fantasy, with a crime at the center, plenty of action, and some romance, then this is the book for you. I would highly recommend that you get a copy of the second book, Dance of Despair, at the same time as well, because you will want to keep on reading.