The Crown of Gilded Bones
by Jennifer L Armentrout
Published by Blue Box Press
Book 3 in the Blood and Ash series
She's been the victim and the survivor…
Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
The enemy and the warrior…
Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
A lover and heartmate…
But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.
And now she will become Queen…
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Violence High Fantasy Thrilling
The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L Armentrout is the third book in her increasingly popular Blood and Ash series, and continues Poppy's story right at the moment we left off in the second book. When Poppy learns of whose blood she carries in her veins - and why she is able to do the things she does, she has a choice to make. She can claim Atlantia, as is her blood given right, or forsake it. As she comes to terms with everything she learns, and a life altering choice before her, she learns of a threat that can destroy everything and everyone she holds dear. One thing for sure: no matter what Poppy and her husband Casteel choose to do, it will change their lives forever.
Woah. Just holy fucking whoa.
How do I put this without spoiling anything ...
My mind is blown. In the good way. Like ... I will have a book hangover for months because nothing will top this one for a while. Listen up, because this is important. I'm a member of Jennifer's Blood and Ash spoiler group ... and I have seen MANY theories on what would happen in this book. Many on Poppy's bloodline. I honestly thought that with the amount of well thought out theories out there, there was no way this book would remain unpredictable - but it was. I mean ... holy shit, I didn't see a lot of that coming. It was brilliant. Chef's fucking kiss. It was heavy on dialogue and banter, but that is one of Jennifer's strengths. And it all had a purpose. The dialogue furthered the action, and a lot happens in this book. A LOT. One of the main complaints in the last book, was that Poppy's inner monologue was repetitive. And it was. But Jennifer changed that this time around. Poppy's thoughts serve a purpose to the story, and we get to see amazing growth to an already kickass character. In fact all the characters grown in different, subtle ways, and their relationships with one another as well. If well thought out character growth isn't enough for you, Jennifer's story went from wonderful and a unique twist on Atlantia, vampires, werewolves, and Gods/Goddesses, to a fucking epic adventure/romance fantasy. Another thing I love ------------------> it's clear, BOTH sides are at fault for what has happened. What an awesome touch of reality though. How often does the young pay for the mistakes of past generations and often times, help fix mistakes made in the past? All. The. Time. Love it. <-------------------
There were so many moments in this book where I mentally high-fived Poppy and said "YES QUEEN!" Let's be real - Poppy was an already pretty amazing female character. Does she always do the right thing? No, which is why she is such a great character. She doesn't get everything right, but she gets back up, and fixes it. And Casteel is just the epitome of perfect book husband. Yeah, he also did wrong in the past - but now he goes against his instincts, and let's Poppy make her own decisions. He gives her the freedom to be her for the first time in her life, and I love how strengthened their bond with one another was in this book. It never mattered what blood Poppy has - he loves her. She is his everything. And I love it. Her friendships with the wolven - particularly Kieran and Delano was also a joy to see. Yes, the wolven are bonded to her, but they do it because they truly love her - not just because instinct demands it.
I have to say this. It's a spoiler, so its hidden if you haven't read the book yet --------------> I think Jennifer really loved teasing everyone who is all for the joining. There were so many moments where the three of them were having an emotional moment, or were just affectionally near one another that was a giant tease, yet SO satisfying. After A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, I was more on the side of there be no joining, because I was worried it would ruin the magic of Poppy and Casteel. After The Crown of Gilded Bones, and they way all three of them have bonded ... I'm pro-joining. I know a lot of fans want a scandalously detailed threesome ... and hey - If Jennifer feels that is where their joining would end up, I will not be upset about it - but I would also be totally fine if their joining just involved cuddling. <------------------.
I don't do this for every series. Only ones I truly am head over heels in love with, and with an intense plot. But here are some of my predictions for the next Blood and Ash book, which sadly won't be out till next year. (But no worries, to fill in the gap, Jennifer's first book in her Flesh and Fire series will be out in October)
Poppy & Casteel -----------> I predict they won't be reunited until halfway through the next book. Isbeth is crazypants and totally arrogant. I am sure she will be livid with Poppy's message, but she won't give up Casteel that easily. <--------------
The Brothers ------------> I had to label it brothers to keep Ian's death from being spoiled. I know that Malik has essentially been sentenced to death for treason. Valyn confirmed it by asking Poppy to make his death quick. But I don't think that will happen. Malik showed some signs that he isn't fully on board with Isbeth - mainly in how she was treating the Handmaiden, and Ian's death. He will be the one watching over Casteel. I think Casteel will be able to get through to his brother. Isbeth said things that made it pretty clear Malik broke. It wouldn't be the first time torture and abuse has led someone to make the choices Malik has. <-----------------
Tawny --------------> I'm calling it. I think she is the missing Draken daughter. The fact that she was paired with Poppy, and they didn't ascend her when they said they did .... I just think there is more to the story then meets the eye. Perhaps they somehow wiped her memories and suppressed her ability to shapechange? <----------------
Kieran -------------> I'm already obsessed with his touchy relationship with the draken that almost bit him. I'm suspecting an enemies to bros situation, or enemies to lovers. After all, most Atlantians and wolven are bisexual. <-------------
Casteel's parents -------------> very interesting dynamics between Poppy and Casteel's parents. I think Valyn and Poppy are already on their way to a good father/daughter in law relationship. I think it will take a long time for Poppy to forgive Eloana. While Eloana admitting her mistakes, and that it was due to ego, Poppy is done being a pushover. Eloana will need to work hard to gain Poppy's trust and friendship. Unfortunately, I don't think it will happen the way we think. I suspect, if not in the next book, but by the end of the series, Eloana will die trying to save one of her sons. <---------------
Revenants ----------------> It's heavily hinted that the Handmaiden isn't all that loyal to Isbeth. Despite being an abomination according to the Gods, I think her loyalty is to the people, and I suspect she will find a way in the future to help Poppy, in exchange for the true death or a chance to hide away with Malik, who I think she is secretly with <---------------
The Crown of Gilded Bones was everything I expected from Jennifer L Armentrout, and more. Absolutely unique and unexpecting, Jennifer continues to enrich her Blood and Ash world with fleshed out, morally grey and real characters, and a story arc that captivates from page one to the end. I cannot wait for the next book in this amazing series - nor can I wait to read the first Flesh and Fire book - set in the same world as Blood and Ash, but centers around Nyktos - King of Gods. And I think I am really going to love Nyktos and his mysterious consort.
Casteel tending to Poppy after the attack, and the wolven protecting them both
The rescue, and Casteel ascending Poppy because he doesn't want to lose her
Casteel's reaction to Poppy telling him she loved him
Kieran, Poppy, Casteel group hug! <3
Casteel testing Poppy strength
Poppy getting to take care of Alastir.
Poppy's first shower
Casteel reading about the foursome in Willa's diary
Kieran and Poppy laying in bed talking
Poppy and Kieran testing out talking to one another in their minds
Poppy throwing back the mask at the creature because she was horrified by their faces
Poppy and Casteel enjoying the city for a day, and her healing the little girl
Sex in the garden
The wedding, and the watching, and the doing
Kieran with his mom <3
Kieran stepping closer to Poppy when he sensed that Casteels mother was upsetting her
Ian telling Poppy to wake Nyktos
Poppy and Casteel asking Kieran to be their adviser
Nyktos and Poppy talking
Casteel making Poppy read from Willa's diary while he "eats his dinner"
Poppy telling the queen to shut the fuck up
Poppy confronting Eloana
Poppy summoning the draken
Reaver and Kieran having an epic stare down
POPPY's MESSAGE THAT CASTEEL WOULD BE PROUD OF. YES QUEEN!
Casteel: "I don't know everything that is going on right now, but you - all of you - want to keep her safe. And I'm all about that. You know I would never hurt her. I would tear out my own heart before I did that. She's injured. I need to make sure she's okay, and nothing is going to stop me from doing that. Not even you. I will destroy every single one of you who stands between her and me."
Casteel: "Just so you know, what you just did? Said? It has me feeling all kinds of wildly inappropriate things at the moment."
A weak, shaky laugh left me.
Poppy: "There's something so wrong with you."
Casteel: "I know. But you love that about me."
I did. Gods, I really did.
Poppy: "Why are you smiling? That isn't something that should make you smile."
Casteel: "A move against my wife is a proclamation of war against me. Their fate is already sealed."
Valyn: "Fight this, and I'm sure Jasper, Kieran, or my son will be at your throat in a heartbeat. And at this moment, I cannot promise that I would move to stay any of them."
Casteel's chin lowered, and his smile was as cold as the first breath of winter.
Casteel: "It'll be me."
Poppy: "You will die. It will be by my hand, and it will be a death befitting a coward like you.
Jansen: "Believe it or not, I wouldn't wish your fate upon anyone."
Poppy: "I'd be more worried about your fate than mine."
Teeth bared, he snapped his head down on the man's throat, tearing through skin as he thrust his hand through the man's chest. Lifting his head, he spat a mouthful of the man's blood into the Protector's face,
Casteel tossed the body to the ground and looked up at another man, blood streaming from his mouth.
The masked man spun and ran.
Casteel was faster, reaching him in the blink of an eye. He shoved his fist into the man's back and jerked his arm back sharply, pulling out something white and smeared with blood and tissue. His spine. Dear gods, it was the man's spine.
Kieran's eyes met mine.
Kieran: "He's a little angry."
Poppy: "A little?"
Kieran: "Okay. He's really angry."
Casteel: "I cannot let you go. I won't. Not now. Not ever."
Casteel: "Get all of them away from us, or I swear to the gods, I will rip their hearts from their chests. I do not care if a heart belongs to one who gave me life. You will not stop me."
Valyn: "Look around you! The gods are speaking to us right now. You cannot do this -"
Casteel: "The gods will not stop me, either."
Casteel: "I love you, Penellephe. You. Your fierce heart, your intelligence and strength. I love your endless capacity for kindness. I love your acceptance of me. Your understanding. I'm in love with you, and I will be in love with you when I take my last breath and then beyond the Vale.
Casteel: "You don't want him. He won't be as tasty. You want me."
Kieran: "In any other situation, I might be offended."
Poppy: "It hurts."
Casteel: "I know. You're hungry. But you can't eat Kieran. That would make me a little sad."
Casteel: "I don't think I've told you this. I didn't get the chance yet. When you asked me to kiss you under the willow? Deep down, I knew then that I would give you anything you asked for. I still will."
Poppy: "Is this real?"
Casteel: There's nothing more real than right now."
Casteel: "I'm not going to last very long. But neither will you."
Poppy: "You are the foundation that helps me stand. You are my walls and my roof. My shelter. You are my home."
Casteel: "As you are mine, Poppy."
Casteel: "I will always find you. No matter what."
Poppy: "I thought I would never get to feel you hold me again. That I would never feel your kiss or see your stupid dimples."
Casteel: "You love my dimples."
Poppy: "I ... I tried to eat Kieran."
Casteel: "He won't hold it against you."
Poppy: "I tried to eat Kieran while I was naked."
Casteel: "That's probably why he won't hold it against you."
Poppy: "I have a lot of questions."
Kieran: "I'm so shocked."
Casteel: "Hit me. Hard. Like you mean it."
Poppy: "Why do you want me to hit you?"
Naill: "That's a good question."
Casteel: "Hit me."
Poppy: "I don't want to hit you."
Casteel: "That would be a first."
Poppy: "I don't want to hit you right now."
Casteel was quiet for a moment and then turned to Kieran and Naill.
Casteel: "Did I ever tell you guys about that time I discovered Poppy perched outside a window, clutching a book to her chest?"
Naill: "No, but I have a lot of questions."
He shot me a slow smile of warning.
Casteel: "She had this book - it's her favorite. She even brought it with her when we left Masadonia."
Poppy: "I did not."
Casteel: "She's embarrassed about it, because it's a sex book. And not just any sex book. It's full of all kinds of dirty and unimaginable -"
I snapped forward, punching him in the stomach.
Casteel doubled over with a grunt as Naill let out a low whistle.
Poppy: "Happy now?"
Casteel: "Yeah. I will be when I can breathe again."
Casteel: "I've gotten all I can get out of Alastir that will be of use to us, so you know how tonight will end?"
Poppy: "With death."
Casteel: "By your hand or mine?"
he asked, his lips grazing the curve of my jaw.
Casteel: "If you think what I did was a shock, then you need to understand that I will do anything and everything for my wife. No risk is too great, nor is anything too sacred. Because she is my everything. There is nothing greater than her, and I do mean nothing."
Casteel: "I know what my actions would have caused."
Valyn: "And yet?"
Casteel: "Here we stand."
Casteel: "Such a stunning, vicious little creature."