Author: Victoria Aveyard
Audiobook Length: 6 hours 26 minutes
Two women on either side of the Silver-Red divide tell the stories no one else knows.
Discover the truth of Norta’s bloody past in these two revealing prequels to #1 New York Times bestseller Red Queen. Plus, a Glass Sword sneak peek! An exclusive excerpt from the hotly anticipated second book in the Red Queen series, Glass Sword, transports readers to the world of Silver tyranny, a Red dawn rising, and one girl’s resolve to break down the system that will hold her back no longer.
Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.
Farley was raised to be strong, but being tasked with planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected. As she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital, she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation—Mare Barrow.
Although these are two prequel novellas, it is highly recommended to read Red Queen (#1) and then read the two novellas as additional information/background. Cruel Crown is three different pieces compiled into one book. Two are the prequel short novellas that take place in the past and give insight into the main series. The last part is a excerpt/sneak peek of Glass Sword (#2) and can be skipped if you are planning on moving forward in the series. The first novella is on the Silver side of society. Queen Song, is about Coriane, Cal’s mother and first wife of Tiberias before her passing. The second is on the Red side of society. Steel Scars, focuses on Farley as she is working on gathering forces that eventually leads to Mare (the main character in the central series).
It opens with their Coriane Jacos is Prince Cal’s mother and the first wife of King Tiberias (“Tibe”) Calore V, a prince in this part of the story. Not only does it give some background in Cal’s mother, it also gave some more insight into Tiberias and gave his character some more depth. He was more vulnerable and human in this story compared to how I perceived him in Red Queen. The romance between the two of them was very sweet and I loved their relationship. It was interesting to see how their courtship led to a lot of tension due to complications with the Queenstrial that typically chooses a Queen. Elara enters the scene in this novella and you see more about how she eventually becomes the villainess character we already know from Red Queen. Overall, it was great to see Tibe’s first love and how Coriane navigated the many difficulties of the Court all leading to the love both parents have for Cal.
There seem to be three camps for this novella: those that disliked it, those that loved it only for Shade (Mare’s brother), and the minority is those that fully loved it. I found myself more or less between the first two as I did not love it, but I did not hate it and Shade’s part definitely helped. The story covers the revolution side of the main series and takes place a few years after Queen Song ends. Diana Farley grew up in the Lakelands before coming to Norta and eventually joining the Scarlet Guard. There are a lot of narrative mission reports in this novella that are all the different transmissions between members of the rebellion. While interesting, the inclusion of all the details seemed to take away from the story. Instead, brief recaps/summaries would have kept the flow going a little more for me. Shade and Farley have a romantic connection, but it was not as developed as I expected. Overall, this story was interesting, but would have been more engaging from Shade’s point of view as his character was more dynamic than Farley’s and would have captivated the reader more than Farley. She was an okay character, but not enough, in this novella, to be the main one.