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ARC Review: Vows of Empire (Bloodright Trilogy #3) by Emily Skrutskie

Publication Date: June 14, 2022

Synopsis:

Two young princes on opposite sides of a war must decide between loyalty and love in this galaxy-shaking finale of the Bloodright Trilogy.

Gal and Ettian have never been farther apart. Once, they were roommates and best friends, each suffocating under a secret of galactic consequence. When Gal’s came to light—that he was heir to the Umber Empire and all of its brutal conquest—the two were forced to flee their military academy, fall in with a brewing rebellion to reclaim the Archon Empire from Umber’s grasp, and face their long-held feelings for each other.

Then the rebellion discovered Gal’s identity and to save his life, Ettian had no choice but to unveil his own secret: that he was the long-lost heir to the Archon throne. With Gal as a political prisoner, Ettian began the fight to restore his own empire—and to open Gal’s eyes to the possibility of a galaxy reclaimed from Umber’s greed. But just when Gal was starting to come around, a team of Umber operatives rescued him from Archon’s clutches and dragged him home to take up his crown.

Now, separated for the first time and in full command of the might of their respective forces, the star-crossed rulers find themselves truly at odds. And with the war reaching a tipping point, the time has finally come for Gal and Ettian to confront what they owe their empires, their friends, and each other if they’re ever to forge a universe where the two of them can be together.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Now THIS is how you end a trilogy that’s been nothing but one plot twist and con after another with a bang.

I fell in love with Ettian and Gal and Wen from the very beginning of Bonds of Brass. The writing style employed in these novels is easy and conversational and personal, making incredibly good use of first person perspective. The story races along at full tilt with plots and secrets and betrayals and counter betrayals and ‘wait-that’s-not-actually-a-betrayal’s slotting into place and never quiiiiite spinning out of control, but only just.

The first book was Ettian-focused, and the second Gal-focused, but in this one there’s a nice balance of the two and also a look into Wen and a growing familiarity with the utter chaos that is the Wraiths.

If I can just quote from my review of the second book in the trilogy (Oaths of Legacy) for a moment:


“…if I could read about Wen going off-script with a mad slap-dash plan and Ettian caring too much and Gal “fed up to here with these two idiots but don’t anyone dare touch them” emp-Umber attempting to manipulate everyone forever I totally would… “

Same, past self. Same.

After absolutely flying through this final book at a breakneck pace I can say that I am completely satisfied with the ending. It’s the best ending these characters could have dreamed up. It is everything I wanted (and several things I didn’t know I wanted). The plot twists and surprises and long cons nearly killed me several times over as I read, in the best way possible.

I love a good twisty plot where the characters are pulling multiple cons on each other and ALSO on the reader, and this trilogy definitely delivers, with moments that made me gasp and moments that made me want to cheer as things fell into place.

I am in awe of Emily Skrutskie’s plotting skills and also will read absolutely anything she writes because this trilogy and these characters have completely stolen my heart.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

I open the door, and there he is. The person I took a crown for. The person I’d take another bullet for, knowing exactly how agonizing it feels to have your guts shredded.

Vows of Empire by Emily Skrutskie

I’m not an emperor. Not overseeing a system that encompasses. billions of lives and hopes to reclaim billions more. I’m just a dumbass trying to close a goddamn door.

Vows of Empire by Emily Skrutskie

“What do you think I’m asking?” she replied—always with that tone of mischief. Pissed me the hell off when we first met. I wanted to shake her by the shoulders and go We can’t both be the fun one.

Vows of Empire by Emily Skrutskie

But that little taste of humanity was never meant to be permanent. We were always going to be dragged back to our higher destiny. It’s another thing entirely to be a man with nothing but a ship and the love of your life, standing on the shore of just one of the galaxy’s many oceans, wondering what the point of you is.

Vows of Empire by Emily Skrutskie

ARC Review: Oaths of Legacy by Emily Skrutskie (Book 2 of the Bloodright Trilogy)

Synopsis:

Torn between loyalty and love, a young prince will learn how much he’s willing to sacrifice as he tries to destroy the rebellion that threatens his throne in this exhilarating sequel to Bonds of Brass.

Gal’s destiny has always been clear: complete his training at the military academy, prove his worth as a royal successor, and ascend to the galactic throne. When a failed assassination plot against Gal sends him and Ettian—his infuriatingly enticing roommate—on a mad dash through the stars, Gal’s plans are momentarily disrupted. But he was born to rule the Umber Empire, and with Ettian by his side, nothing will stop him from returning home and crushing the growing insurgency threatening his family’s power.

But nothing is ever that simple in war—or in love. Gal is captured by the rebellion during a skirmish and faces public execution, his grand fate cut short. To save Gal’s life, Ettian does the unthinkable: he reveals himself as the secret heir to the fallen Archon Empire and rightful leader of the rebellion . . . and, therefore, Gal’s sworn enemy. Now a political hostage in this newly-reignited conflict, Gal must use his limited resources to sabotage the rebellion from within, concoct an escape plan, and return to the empire he’s destined to lead. And if that means taking down the man he thought he loved?

All the better.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was lukewarm about this book at first, which surprised me given how much I loved the first book. I chalked it up to the POV change and the aftermath of the twist ending of the first. I even worried I would have to put it down due to just disliking Gal.

However, I can now say that I absolutely love Gal and I love this book. SO much. Seriously. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a character quite as scheming and conniving as Gal is, nor one so wholeheartedly dedicated to playing a part. If that part changes as the story progresses, well, that’s just character development happening to him as his head catches up with his heart. I feel for him, I really do.

The painful beginning was necessary for letting us get inside Gal’s head and really understand his emotions and motivations. By the end I was rooting for him to get what he has finally realized he wants.

And that ending!! I’m not sure anyone can top Emily Skrutskie’s endings. Whew. I can’t wait for the third book! And someone please tell Emily Skrutskie that Gal and Ettian and Wen deserve their happy ending?? I honestly have no idea what form it will take to get rival Emperors of a galactic war a happy ending, but just. Happy ending. Please?

And if I could read about Wen going off-script with a mad slap-dash plan and Ettian caring too much and Gal “fed up to here with these two idiots but don’t anyone dare touch them” emp-Umber attempting to manipulate everyone forever I totally would.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine, Del Rey for providing an e-arc for review.