Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake
MAJOR DISCLAIMER: At this point I don’t know how to do this without spoilers for Three Dark Crowns and One Dark Throne (reviews for both linked). Obviously, there WILL NOT be spoilers for Two Dark Reigns.
But there are spoilers for the former two books in the Three Dark Thrones series. There just isn’t away around it that I could find and since this is a backlist series- maybe it doesn’t matter but, obviously, I want to warn everyone. So, again, you are safe for Two Dark Reigns (and obviously Five Dark Fates because I haven’t read it yet). Everything else is up for grabs. If you don’t want to know about Three Dark Crowns or One Dark Throne, then
Now, welcome to the next installment of my Three Dark Crowns buddy read with Allisa at Alissa White’s book Blog (Review Linked).
Two Dark Reigns Hot-Takes
Two Dark Reigns is the middle child of the Three Dark Crowns series, and it shows. It is nothing like Three Dark Crowns or One Dark Throne. Outside of having some main characters, very little of the structure, tone and setting remains. The action is considerably less. There are many new locals, characters and plot lines to explore. Even the main characters that remain, have dramatically changed course and are on much different paths than where they started.
Blake’s writing skills prove to be just as meticulous and enticing within these new parameters. The thrill of the game is not lost due to a lack of action. How Blake spins Fennbirn and the Blue Queen’s history, while moving other characters forward keeps the pace smooth. There is a connective tissue running between it all that challenges readers to connect, knowing the characters haven’t a clue. It creates a suspense and tension throughout both retelling of the past and current events that will ultimately collide.
- All of the above, plus all the action and madness that was demonstrated in the first two books set-up a plethora of possibilities that should all lead to epic collisions in Five Dark Fates.
- Queen Katharine is limitless in frightening and enthralling me. She and her hoard of undead queens keep finding new and inventive ways to make me throw-up in reverence.
- Political intrigue, combined with emotional manipulation, when written with resonance, leaves readers heartbroken in the moment, and thinking of what will come. Blake nails it.
- Those outside of Queen Katharine’s council will learn the Queen Crowned is not exactly in control of her faculties. And then…?
What is the over/under on that food being poisoned? And who poisoned it?
Gaggle Of Reigns
I said this book was titled wrong. OK. Fine. I have theories on why it is titled Two Dark Reigns. Buuuuuuuuuut. Spoilers. So. Let me get back to why I think it is titled wrong. I hardly see how you can consider Queen Katharine one reign onto herself. She says it throughout Two Dark Reigns. I couldn’t do this by myself. I need them. And poor Pietyr. SHUT UP! Have you lost your mind, boy?
Well I mean I guess he can’t hear the undead putting violent, bloody visions of his demise, dancing in the Queen’s head.
“You are the Queen Crowned. You have what we wanted. What they wanted. And now they can grow quiet and disappear.”
Disappear. In her mind’s eye, she sees Pietyr’s neck snapping, his head twisted too far around. She can almost hear it, the crunch of bones. Hush, hush, old sisters. I know you have had enough of disappearing.
Oh. OK. Not that Pietyr isn’t in good company.
There is Bree, of course. Not to be repetitive but I guess I have to be. Bree follows right in Pietyr’s footsteps. So, apparently it bears repeating. When you are from Mirabella’s council and the Crowned Queen calls for you. You do what? You go?
Yet. Here she is. And there Queen Katharine is.
Katharine notes the delicate pulse in Bree’s throat… The open V of the bodice exposing her heart like a bull’s-eye. So many places to sink a knife. Westwood is foolish indeed to speak so when the dead queens are there to hear. To see. They boil so high inside Katharine that she can almost taste their rotten flesh on the back of her tongue.
Quiet, quiet. To kill another queen is one thing. To kill a member of the council… Well, she must truly earn such a punishment.
Well. At least Queen Katharine still has some moral compass?
To be fair, on top of all these dead queens filling her up, she does have a lot to deal with. There is the mist that once protected Fennbirn, but now devours people whenever it so chooses. Her own people fear her, but then again, I mean… she didn’t see that coming? I’m scared shitless of her and I know she doesn’t exist.
And yet, there is more coming her way… two sisters she thinks are dead and a growing rebellion ready to strip her of everything. Let’s leave this gaggle of undead for a while.
Arsinoe and Mirabella
The mainland is not kind to Arsinoe or Mirabella. Being away from Fennbirn leaves them stripped of their powers. Arsinoe has started having dreams through a lost Queen of Centra, Daphne. If that was not enough, Billy’s father has not returned. Without his father around, his family is running out of money and options. His mom wants to wed him off, further disrupting Arsinoe, Mirabella and Billy’s future plans.
Right away Arsinoe begins shutting out both Mirabella and Billy for fear she might be losing her mind or getting into something very dangerous. She tries to leave them at the Mainland to figure out what these dreams mean. She turns tail to try and go on her own deeper into dangerous territory to confront the legendary Blue Queen.
Teenagers being teenagers, Mirabella begins feeling left-out, unwanted. After telling Billy she believes her purpose is to protect Arsinoe, not be queen, after everything she feels she gave up for Arsinoe, this is a deep hurt.
I am my sister’s keeper. Her protector.
One Arsinoe never acknowledges or even sees festering. When I mentioned the combination of politics and emotion having short-and-long term implications? This is one that might hurt more than most.
It Is A Prophecy, But Not Like A Prophecy, Prophecy
I can’t count how many times someone says CALL AN ORACLE! Then they get a prophecy and are like, “pish, you know how these prophecies are. They could mean ANYTHING.”
They get arrested and dragged places, drugged, killed. I mean throughout the series you hear about the Oracle Gift not even existing anymore to contend for the Queen of Fennbirn. And yet. They call for them. Oracles come and then no one wants to believe them or twist their words or don’t get a straight answer. What is the point?! Either don’t call for them or look. If I was an Oracle? I would be like, look Undead Queen and all other fools of Fennbirn. Take what I say or not but I’m not Nostradamus. And don’t even ask me who he is because you won’t live to know who he is, anyway.
Never is this truer than when it comes to our mourning, confused and now living in Bastion City, Jules. Jules is so confused she doesn’t know what to make of anything. She has taken up with the Vatros clan and is spending time with Emilia and then a young seer, named Mathilde.
She grabs Emilia by the sleeve.
“The seers have known of your coming for a long time coming.”
“The seers are fools. They said I should be drowned at birth. Now they say I’m a queen. Or I will be. Or I was once already.” … Jules has never heard anything quite so stupid.
“Prophecy has many interpretations,” say Mathilde as she crosses the room to stand before them. “Unfortunately, it is often difficult to know the meaning until after it has come to pass.”
But never anyone mind about that because in the end Blake is leaving everyone, characters and readers alike, with an interesting dilemma. What do or don’t you believe. Readers are playing with more cards in the deck to try and sort it all out. The characters only have the lens they are looking through. This is yet, another way, in which Blake makes up for less action with mystery, intrigue and keeping everyone on their toes. And it works.
Well I can’t do that, now can? Although I have to say, for everything I have said? I’ve really said nothing at all, which says a lot for the story. There is somethings that I have held back for the question and answer round with Allisa (I have linked her review at the top of this review and right here). Otherwise, you’ll get no spoilers here.
It is the most action-packed part of the book and leaves a host of questions to be answered in Five Dark Fates. There is death. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I won’t say who, how, when or where. I can’t say if it is a rando, side-character or main. Allison and I both agreed that diving straight back into Five Dark Fates was the only option.
1. Who do you think will come up on top in the last book?
Here’s a wild prediction- ready? I don’t think any of them do. I think a certain someone we don’t quite know yet that I can’t mention because of spoilers that was kinda in the second book, maybe could up-end the whole damn game somehow, OR. Someone will die in childbirth and there won’t be a queen until one of the three take over. That’s my prediction.
2. Have any of your answers from the last review questions changed?
Remember when I said if you’d asked me after book one, that I thought this was Arsinoe’s story, but something would have scratched in the back of my mind to say Jules? And by the end of book two, I was sure? I still think it is Jules story but something at the back of my head relating to the above that I can’t say because of spoilers is scratching at the back of my head.
3. If you could get the point of view of one other character in this book, who would you choose?
The gaggle of the undead in Katharine. Seriously. Plus, I want to know if she’s actually dead or undead or just possessed.
4. Is Fennbirn Island a place you’d want to visit? Why or why not?
On a sibling level, it wouldn’t matter. I only have a brother and we don’t get along anyway. So, if we had to fight to the death for the rights to direct an island on our beliefs, we would definitely be on opposite sides. No love lost there. Otherwise? OH FUCK NO. If the mist doesn’t get you then the Queen might. Then again looking at 2020’s prospects? Maybe Fennbirn isn’t so bad.