Princess Theodosia was a prisoner in her own country for a decade. Renamed the Ash Princess, she endured relentless abuse and ridicule from the Kaiser and his court. But though she wore a crown of ashes, there is fire in Theo’s blood. As the rightful heir to the Astrean crown, it runs in her veins. And if she learned nothing else from her mother, she learned that a Queen never cowers.
Now free, with a misfit army of rebels to back her, Theo must liberate her enslaved people and face a terrifying new enemy: the new Kaiserin. Imbued with a magic no one understands, the Kaiserin is determined to burn down anyone and everything in her way.
The Kaiserin’s strange power is growing stronger, and with Prinz Søren as her hostage, there is more at stake than ever. Theo must learn to embrace her own power if she has any hope of standing against the girl she once called her heart’s sister.
The last book of this series doesn’t hold back the stakes. The pacing matches that of the first two books – which is incredible, by the way – and it really puts you on edge as you read and wonder what happens next and if Theo will defeat the Kaiserin.
I have to say it again, Theo is one of the strongest female characters I’ve read in a fantasy series like this (not that I ready many, but still). With all that she’s gone through in the first two books, you finally see her really learn to be a leader in this last novel as she gains control of her powers and leads her army to battle more than once. Going through what she has, she’s finally learned the difference between what makes you weak and what makes you strong. I liked her even more in this book than the first one because of her growth as a leader and Queen.
“I remember how my mother had no shame in crying when it was necessary. She never saw it as a weakness; rather, she believed it a strength to bear one’s soul.”
I loved the development of the relationships between Theo with Soren and Blaise, each ending with a different outcome. She didn’t deny love for either of them, but each was a different kind of love that she learned to differentiate. It was no surprise who she would end up with, but I was amazed at the grace the other took the “rejection.”
There’s no shortage of action in this novel. Even in the “slower” parts where they’re not battling, there’s always something going on with strategizing or learning new aspects of their army’s powers. There are a couple of shocking deaths – one isn’t quite shocking in that it happened, but rather how it happened. And the other just threw me off my chair because I really wasn’t expecting it (though I probably should’ve).
Overall, this was a great conclusion to the trilogy, which is highly underrated, and it is a crime against books that it is. So, if you’re looking for a good fantasy series, I will recommend this one until I turn blue in the face!
Rating: 4/5 stars