~ Book Review: Conquer the Kingdom (Gargoyle Queen #3) (ARC) ~

Published March 7, 2023

Author: Jennifer Estep

Magic reigns, plots abound, and a new love might not conquer all, in this must-read finale to the epic Gargoyle Queen trilogy by international bestselling author Jennifer Estep.

Time is running out for crown princess Gemma Ripley. Despite being a cunning spy and a powerful mind magier, Gemma hasn’t been able to track down the most dangerous enemy her kingdom of Andvari has ever seen. Adding to her worries is the Sword and Shield tournament. With gladiators flocking to the capital city of Glanzen, Gemma can’t tell who is friend–or foe.

Determined to protect Andvari at any cost, Gemma hatches a bold plan, but things aren’t what they seem. Soon, everything she holds dear is being threatened, including her burgeoning relationship with Prince Leonidas Morricone.

With the kingdom she holds dear slipping through her fingers, Gemma will have to conquer her fear and unlock the true secret of her magic–or watch her friends and family die and her beloved Andvari fall . . .

Conquer the Kingdom is the conclusion to the Gargoyle Queen series. I was first captivated by the first novel, Capture the Crown, where it was impossible to put down. This was a spin off series of the Crown of Shards series, and I believe there is room to further expand into additional spin-off series, especially based off events in this story. This is all possible as the world-building that Estep has done is amazing and complex. In this story, the plot picks up soon after the previous where Milo attacked during the Summit. With the Sword and Shield Tournament approaching, Gemma believes this could be the perfect opportunity to get Milo.

The romance between Gemma and Leo has not been easy. The obstacles they have faced throughout the three novels is intense and the two try to figure out how to make it to be together.  As Gemma is set on her quest, Leo is trying to make peace with his mother, Maeven, and brother, Milo, being on the receiving end of her vengeance. Gemma may have accepted Leo, but he still needs to be accepted by her family and kingdom, which is not an easy task. Gemma is the main narrator for the story where the reader has followed her growth over the course of the three stories. While her romance may be in the background compared to the other action, it was still well-integrated into the story. Her growth also was nicely weaved in as she grew into her powers and role.

The story does begin slower, which was a surprise for this being the third novel in a trilogy. It did include some nice recap and set up the building of the tension for the final battle, but I do wish it was a little faster. There is a lot in this story where Gemma’s story is nicely wrapped up. Her princess persona that was introduced in the first novel and temporarily took a back seat in the second was brought back in this one which helped make the series come full circle. She constantly has her gargoyle Grimley by her side, which provided nice stability to the story. Grimley was an amazing character, and I loved his bond with Gemma. I also loved the bond Leo shared with his strix, Lyra. The entire cast of characters fit well together where I felt invested in everything. There were some elements, such as the pacing, where I felt some improvement could have been made, but this was an excellent conclusion and I cannot wait to read another Estep series.

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Avon and Harper Voyager, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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