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Book Review: ‘The Bitter Crown’ by Justin Lee Anderson

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An entire kingdom has been stolen without anyone even knowing. How? Because the one who stole it has memory magic. “King” Janaeus used a powerful magical relic to amplify his power and change the memories of the entire kingdom all at once. Now they all think he is the king and that the rightful king, Mynygogg is trying to steal the throne. Now the king’s envoy, Aranok, has discovered the truth and is fighting to save the whole country from Janaeus. But as he, Mynygogg, and their allies start their secret war against Janeaus. the stress causes fractures within the group. Can they stay united against their common enemy? Or will internal fighting doom them before the first battle? Find out in book two of The Eidyn Saga: The Bitter Crown by Justin Lee Anderson.

[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Orbit for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of The Bitter Crown contains some spoilers!]

The Lost War is now a silent war

In the first book of The Eidyn Saga, The Lost War, Aranok thinks that he was trying to piece the kingdom of Eidyn back together after a vicious civil war. But in a shocking twist, he learns that he’s actually helping the false king who has used magic to change the memories of the entire country, Aranok included. Now that Aranok knows the truth, he’s determined to remove Janaeus from the throne and reestablish Mynygogg as the true king.

The problem is that Janaeus used a powerful magical relic to enhance his memory magic enough to affect the entire kingdom. Without the release, Aranok has to restore people’s memories one person at a time. It’s a prolonged, difficult process. But that’s not the only problem. 

Aranok finds out that Janaeus’ coup of Mynygogg was, arguably, Aranok’s idea. A mutual friend was killed because he was a draoidh (a person who can use magic). A huge part of the reason Aranok helped Mynygogg become king in the first place was so he could outlaw anti-draoidh behaviors. Even so, Aranok’s friend was killed.

While grieving for him, Aranok got very drunk and said some things to other draoidhs about replacing Mynygogg. The other draoidhs acted on these words, using Janaeus’ memory magic to make the kingdom think he was king instead of Mynygogg.  Only his fellow conspirators and Mynygogg retained their true memories. Until Aranok regained his.

The Bitter Crown by Justin Lee Anderson

Now Aranok is trying to figure out how to fix things with the least bloodshed possible. But since learning that he inspired Janaeus’ coup, he’s having a lot of very conflicting thoughts. Aranok feels very guilty about what he said, even though he doesn’t remember saying it in the first place. He also kind of agrees with what he said. If Mynygogg had been more forceful in his protection of draoidhs, then Aranok’s friend would still be alive. He feels some sympathy for the conspirators. And that’s a dangerous thing for the king’s right-hand man to feel. 

A cracked alliance in The Bitter Crown by Justin Lee Anderson

Aranok and Mynygogg don’t agree on how well Mynygogg’s previous approach to draoidhs worked. Nirea, the queen, doesn’t trust Aranok’s allegiance anymore. Allandria, previously Aranok’s bodyguard and lover, currently the queen’s envoy, is torn between her former lover and her new duties. Samily, a powerful warrior and newly discovered draoidh, is no longer sure that her companions are good people.

Everyone is feeling off-balanced and suspicious. No one really trusts anyone anymore. It’s not super surprising considering that they’ve just learned that everything they thought was real was really a lie. It makes it really hard to trust anything or know where you stand. But if they can’t come together and find common ground again, their silent war to retake the country will be lost before they ever see an enemy. 

The Bitter Crown is a solid follow-up to The Lost War

I reviewed Justin Lee Anderson’s first book, The Lost War back in May and I really liked it. I actually gave it a 10/10! And I was really excited to get the second book and continue the adventure. The Bitter Crown was a very different book from The Lost War. The Lost War is an adventure mystery, but The Bitter Crown is a soap opera. Its main focus is on all the different relationships and how they’ve changed now that the truth about Janeaus’ deception is out.

I could understand each of the character’s reactions, but that didn’t mean I necessarily liked The Bitter Crown quite as much as The Lost War. But that’s not to say that it’s a bad book! The Bitter Crown has many setups that should make the third book really epic. So I would recommend reading books one and two of the Eidyn Saga and then waiting for the third book to come out soon.

My Rating: 7/10

The Bitter Crown by Justin Lee Anderson is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccricus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you will be adding this novel to your TBR list!

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

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