Aisley's Reviews

Three Dark Crowns Full Series Review

A few weeks ago, I finished the Three Dark Crowns book series by Kendare Blake! It was a fun ride with a really cool idea that snagged my imagination in a vice. 

Synopsis

The series takes place on an island called Fennbirn ruled by Queens descended from the island’s Goddess. The Queens have one of five different gifts: poisoner, naturalist, elemental, war, and sight. 

Poisoners are born with the ability to ingest or touch any poison. Naturalists are able to cause plants to grow and have power over animals. Elementals have power over the elements and do not feel heat or cold. The war gifted are able to make objects fly without touching them, hit with incredible force, and never miss their targets. Those born with the sight are able to scry into the future. 

When the reign of the Queen of Fennbirn comes to an end, the Queen bears a set of triplets, each one with a gift. The baby Queens are raised together until they are 6 years of age. They are split up and taken to the prominent families within each of the gifted societies. Then, when they turn 16 years old, the Year of Ascension begins, and the last Queen left alive becomes Queen Crowned. 

The series follows Queen Katharine, the weakest poisoner queen in years, Queen Arsinoe, whose late-blooming naturalist gift has driven her to low blood-magic, and the all-powerful Elementalist Queen Mirabella, the favored Queen of the Goddess’ priestesses, in their Hunger Games-esqe struggle against one another as they come of age and their Ascension year begins. 

What I loved

The idea behind the series is engaging and gripping. I loved that Blake quickly put the weaknesses of all the Queens out for the readers to see, creating a sense that each one of these queens could easily lose the crown and be killed. Blake does a great job with humanizing them and making them sympathetic. It was exciting to see how with each new book in the series, the way that I felt about each Queen shifted dramatically as their characters developed.

I also loved the power systems. The way they worked was fresh and felt unique. It was horrifying to watch the poisoners eat a feast entirely made out of poisonous plants and animals, enchanting to see a naturalist bring an entire harvest to fruit and command the animals of the forest, and captivating to see the elementalists harness the sheer power of fire, water, wind, and earth. 

The last thing I loved about the books were the plot twists. They never felt out of place in the world, and I was blindsided by them in the best way possible. Blake did an incredible job at raising the stakes with each twist. I gotta say, though, my favorite one in the whole series happens at the end of book one! I was so taken by surprise, I yelled out loud and nearly hucked the book across the room!

What I didn’t like

While the idea of the story was incredible and the first book was amazing, the execution of the idea in later books was a lot weaker in comparison. 

At the end of Three Dark Crowns, I was at the edge of my seat and salivating for more. But the second book, One Dark Throne, left me feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied. The only reason I picked up Two Dark Reigns was because I wanted to see if the next book would be better. And it was.

Though still much weaker than the first book, Two Dark Reigns was significantly better than book two and added in cool elements that expanded the world into Fennbirn’s history, something that I had been dying to see. The twists in this book definitely heightened the stakes, and once again, I was dying to read the next book. I hit the last book with high expectations and was let down sharply. Five Dark Fates had a lot of action, but the climax of the book built to a weak and unsatisfactory ending.

Overall, I would only highly recommend the first book. It is 100% worth the read, packed with great suspense and action. As far as the rest of the series goes, you wouldn’t miss very much if you looked up a summary.

Series Breakdown

Three Dark Crowns, Book 1

Rating: 10/10, would recommend!! 

Content Advisories:

Violence: Medium – if blood, animal attacks, and physical effects of poisoning are not your thing, maybe pass this one up.

Sex: Medium/low – Not graphic. Happens behind closed doors or off screen.

Language: Low – A cuss word here and there. Not gratuitous. 

 

One Dark Throne, Book 2

Rating: 3/10

Content Advisories: 

Violence: Medium – if blood, animal attacks, and physical effects of poisoning are not your thing, maybe pass this one up.

Sex: Medium/low – Not graphic. Happens behind closed doors or off screen.

Language: Low – A cuss word here and there. Not gratuitous. 

 

Two Dark Reigns, Book 3

Rating: 7/10

Content Advisories: 

Violence: High – if blood, bodily dismemberment, the carnage of war, and decaying bodies are not your thing, maybe pass this one up.

Sex: Medium/low – Not graphic. Happens behind closed doors or off screen.

Romance: Minor lesbian sub-plot introduced, but not explored. If that is not your thing, maybe pass this one up.

Language: Low – A cuss word here and there. Not gratuitous. 

 

Five Dark Fates, Book 4

Rating: 3/10

Content Advisories: 

Violence: High – if blood, bodily dismemberment, the carnage of war, and decaying bodies are not your thing, maybe pass this one up.

Sex: Medium/low – Not graphic. Glossed over.

Romance: Lesbian sub-plot explored a little, but does not become a huge player in the overall story. If that is not your thing, maybe pass this one up.

Language: Low – A cuss word here and there. Not gratuitous.

Full Series Rating: 6/10

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