Book Review: The Two-Faced Queen (The Legacy of the Mercenary King, #2) by Nick Martell

Book Review: The Two-Faced Queen (The Legacy of the Mercenary King, #2) by Nick Martell

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ARC provided by the publisher—Saga Press & Gollancz—in exchange for an honest review.

Cover art illustrated by: Richard Anderson

The Two-Faced Queen by Nick Martell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Legacy of the Mercenary King (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 592 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 25th March 2021 by Gollancz (UK) & 23rd March 2021 by Saga Press (US)

Overall, The Two-Faced Queen a good sequel. Similar to its predecessor, the first half was a bit of a struggle for me, but the second half was great.

“To be forgotten feels more like death than death.”

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell was a debut that surprised me last year. If you’ve seen the reviews or receptions towards Martell’s debut, both positive and negative, I think I can assure you that the majority of them are valid. Personally, I found Martell’s debut thoroughly engaging, but I did find that the deliberately written-to-be-infuriating main character in the first half to be difficult to tolerate. The second half of the novel, however, was incredible. Now, what do I think about this sequel? It’s more or less the same as my overall feeling on the first book, with a few differences here and there.

“Some childhood traumas were like sunburns, other like broken bones, the most extreme like scars—faded but not forgotten.”

The Two-Faced Queen is the sequel The Kingdom of Liars, it is the second book in The Legacy of the Mercenary King series by Nick Martell. Although the story does takes place after The Kingdom of Liars, there’s a kind of standalone nature to the narrative that I think people who haven’t read the first book could actually understand what’s going on. Similar and at the same time different to my experience of reading The Kingdom of Liars, I did find the first half of The Two-Faced Queen to be a struggle to read. But this wasn’t caused by Michael Kingman’s annoying attitude; Michael has improved and matured a bit—note the word a bit—here. From my perspective, it felt like the plot was directionless, and to be honest, quite all over the place in the first half; some scenes and events, to me, actually felt like fillers. Sometimes, we can gauge how much we enjoy reading a book by how fast we’re able to finish it; it took me four days to read through the first half of the book, and it took me only one day to read through the second half. Now you see what I mean? In a similar way to Martell’s debut, the second half of The Two-Faced Queen provided a far more engaging narrative compared to the first half, and I won’t lie, it was even quite emotional at the end.

“Yeah, well, we can’t all be the perfect Michael Kingboy can we?”
“Kingman,” I said. “My last name is Kingman.”
“Then why do you act like a child? Kingboy makes more sense.”

There are, of course, more positive things to take from this sequel. One, after the events of the first book, Michael Kingman is more tolerable now as the main character; he’s still stupid, at times, but he has certainly matured a bit. I did, however, want more of Serena, though. I honestly thought she would have more appearances or roles in this book, but the majority of the book still revolves mainly around Michael. The second positive thing is the expansion of the world-building. I honestly thought The Kingdom of Liars would’ve worked well as a satisfying one-off standalone, and as it turns out, it seems that Martell truly still has several things in store for the series. The topics of legacies and families are still the most pivotal themes of the series; I highly enjoyed reading about them, and Martell’s prose continues to be accessible and engaging.

“I think, if possible, we deserve to hear about our parents’ flaws from themselves so they can teach us to be better than they were.”

Although there’s a bit of a middle book syndrome to it, I’ll say that I had a good time reading this sequel. The last 20% of the book, in particular, was just incredible. There are revelations, there are tensions, there are emotions; Martell has satisfyingly concluded The Two-Faced Queen by setting the stage nicely for the big showdown to come in the third—and I think the final—book of the series. I’m looking forward to finding out how the story ends.

Official release date: 25th March 2021 (UK) and 23rd March 2021 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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