I absolutely love Kill the Queen
, so I'm happy to be able to share an excerpt with you today!
The thrilling first novel in the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series combines magic, murder, and adventure when an unlikely member of the royal family suddenly becomes a contender in a clash for the crown . . .
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of combat, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
- Barnes & Noble
“The Andvarian ambassador is an important dignitary, and I want everything to be perfect for the luncheon,” Maeven called out. “Understood?”
The workers ducked their heads, avoiding her gaze. Maeven nodded, satisfied that she had cowed everyone into continued obedience. She looked around the kitchen again, and she noticed me standing with Isobel. Her gaze cut back to the crates of champagne, but she plastered a smile on her face and walked over to us.
“Incoming.” Isobel stepped back, grabbed a wet dishrag, and started wiping flour off the table, leaving me to face the kitchen steward alone.
“Coward,” I whispered.
Isobel grinned and kept working.
Maeven stopped in front of me. Up close, she was even more beautiful, especially her deep, dark, amethyst eyes. “Lady Everleigh. I didn’t realize that you were . . . visiting the kitchen.”
Visiting? That was Maeven’s way of stating that this was her territory, not mine, and that while my presence was tolerated, it would never truly be welcomed. As if I needed another reminder of my lowly position.
I pasted my usual bland, benign smile on my face, matching her supposed politeness. “Yes, I had to make the pies for the Andvarian ambassador. It’s tradition.”
“Oh, yes, the pies.”
Maeven’s gaze swept over me, and her lips puckered again. Not a speck of flour, sugar, or anything else marred her tunic, but the same could not be said for me. Sugar granules clung to my fingers like sticky sand, while flour stains streaked my clothes like stripes of chalky paint. Plus, several tendrils of my black hair had escaped from its braid and hung down the sides of my face. I blew one of the strands out of the way, but of course it dropped right back down again.
Maeven’s face cleared, as though some other, far more pleasing thought had distracted her from my unkempt appearance. She waved her hand at the crates. “Can I interest you in some champagne? I would love to get a royal opinion on it. Besides, you’re always . . . tasting things for Isobel.”
It might have sounded like an innocent request, but suspicion filled me. Maeven never asked me to taste test anything. Besides, what kind of lush did she think I was? It was barely ten o’clock. Even Cousin Horatio, the Blair family drunk, wouldn’t guzzle champagne at this hour. He’d wait until at least eleven.
“You’re the expert. I’m sure that whatever champagne you’ve picked out will be fine. But thank you ever so much for the offer.”
Disappointment flashed in her eyes, but she smiled at me again. Well, as much as she ever smiled at anyone. “I’ll be sure to save you a glass.”
“That sounds lovely.”
About Jennifer Estep:
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.
Jennifer writes the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series. Kill the Queen, book #1, will be released on Oct. 2.
The Crown of Shards series focuses on Everleigh Blair, a member of the royal family who is distantly in line for the throne of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. But when the unthinkable happens, Evie finds herself fighting for her life—both inside and outside the gladiator arena.
Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Bigtime, and Black Blade fantasy series.
For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit www.jenniferestep.com
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