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    SERIES REVIEW: To Kill A King by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

    To Kill A King: Dragon’s Dawn – Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

    For nineteen years, I have carved myself into a dutiful son, a courtier of unimpeachable wit, and a genuine delight at a tea party. Now that my success in society has planted me in the path of Mikhail Vasiliev, it’s clear I’d have been better off keeping my head down.

    Prince Mikhail is the second son of a traitor. Third in line to the throne, he has a reputation for violence, debauchery, and being a thorn in the side of his cousin, King Dmitri. That is, until the king decides to get him out of the way—by marrying him off.

    To me.

    Suddenly prince of a brutal, frozen land, I have no choice but to spy on my father’s behalf. From the morning of our wedding, my beastly husband and I have been at odds, but if I cannot win him over, I’ll find myself in the jaws of his colossal red dragon.

    By the time I realize there is more between us than hostility and mistrust, it is too late. The die has been cast, the knife thrust, and our private battle is set to topple the whole kingdom.

    Beauty gets tied to a real beast in this MM high fantasy romance, featuring: the cutest companion mink to ever bite the hand of a prince, two reluctant husbands who hate each other everywhere but between the sheets, and a heap load of court intrigue to ensure things go perfectly wrong for our murderhimbo and his slinky courtier beau.

    2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book

    Soundtrack: Stole My Heart
    Artist: Beasts With No Name
    Album: Pretty Fool

    To Kill A King: Dragon’s Dusk – Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

    I have been a runt, a disappointment, and a monster. Now, I am simply a man.

    This wouldn’t be so strange, if yesterday, I weren’t a dragon.

    Locked away and isolated after a vicious attack left a princess blind, my greatest joy has been my bonded rider, Kostya.

    My Kostya is a prince with the weight of a kingdom on his shoulders. When his world begins to crumble, a witch offers me the chance to escape my cell and stand beside him.

    But on two legs, without my scales and claws, Kostya doesn’t recognize me. He fears his dragon was stolen, and when suspicion turns my way, I learn that there are prisons darker and more dangerous than a dragon pen.

    A little very big dragon finds his voice, two legs, and some delightful human appendages beyond in this MM high fantasy romance, featuring: one forlorn dragon-riding prince, a dragon who just wants to kiss the boy, two incredibly self-sacrificing doofuses, a road to pain paved with all the best intentions, and a plot to upend a kingdom.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: With Me All Along
    Artist: Bronze Radio Return
    Album: Entertain You

    To Kill A King: Dragon’s Descent – Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

    In my life, I have loved a boy, a prince, a king, and a madman. Now, I must let him go.

    King Dmitri was once a prince of flowers, but when his father was murdered in a treasonous plot by his own family, all of Dima’s hope and innocence shattered. At his lowest point, he took the crown and bonded the land, and in the process, he lost himself.

    Now, the boy I once loved is brutal and cruel, and the best I can do for his kingdom is to put us both out of our misery before he destroys it all.

    Join our valiant knight as he fights to thaw the icy heart of a mad king in this MM high fantasy romance, endless pining, so much trauma, a griffin-rider with a heart of gold, a wilting flower prince, more than a little fire, and the end of a kingdom.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Feel Alive
    Artist: Half Alive
    Album: Now, Not Yet

    To Kill A King is another fantasy series by acclaimed writer duo Sam Burns and W.M. Fawkes. Set in the harsh lands of Veronyesh(?), a kingdom ruled by the silver-haired dragon-riding Vassilievs, Russian Targaryans, if you will, minus the incest.

    In this world, people are soul-bonded to various creatures, the more powerful the creature, the greater the power, with dragons being the most powerful. The kingdom is ruled by the mad King Dmitri, bonded to a dragon, and the very land itself.

    And so on the king’s mercurial moods depended the well-being of the Veronyesh(?). Which right now is reflecting his bleak mood.

    The backstory of the Vassilievs, much like the Targaryens, is rife with intrigue and drama. The king’s cousins are Prince Mikhail, a.k.a. Misha, Prince Konstantine, a.k.a. Kostya, and their sister, Princess Zoya, a blood witch. Their father, Prince Piotr, killed the former king and, in turn, was executed by King Dmitri.

    Dima’s twin sister, Princess Dasha, was accidentally blinded by Kostya and his dragon, Kirian. The king held a deep grudge against them and would rage at the mention of Kirian.

    Dragon’s Dawn opens the series, dropping us right in the middle of an arranged marriage forced down the throats of Prince Mikhail and Yevgeny, a 19-year-old courtier from a prominent family. There is minimal world-building here, just enough to know about soul bonds, the mad king, and that the two would-be grooms were strangers to each other.

    A very intriguing set-up but to my surprise, this turned out to be my least favorite series opener. The plot runs on miscommunication, a trope I hate. If handled correctly, it would have been tolerable, but it ran for almost the entire story, the characters cycle from bad thoughts about each to fucking then back again with barely any development.

    To make matters worse, both MCs were completely uninteresting. Genya was vapid, self-absorbed, and spectacularly naive. The story insists he is clever and witty while showing no evidence of such. Misha was a boor and a brute, an alphahole without the charm.

    I would have DNF’ed this, but I wanted to see this series through because I was super curious about Dima.

    Dragon’s Dusk picks up immediately after the events of Book 1, And thank the gods, it’s a complete turnaround!

    Here we have the most adorable, most precious cinnamon roll puppy dragon I’d protect with my life!

    Kostya is the eldest Vassiliev, a morose man with the weight of the world on his shoulders and the guilt of hurting the sweet Princess Dasha, despite the princess already declaring she forgave him and his dragon Kirian.

    After that tragic incident, Kirian is not allowed out of the stables, feared by the stable hands as a crazy, feral beast. In truth, the dragon was the sweetest, gentlest creature made of pure sunshine and Kostya’s only joy in life. So much so that Zoya decides to use her blood magic and turn Kirian into a human to be with his Kostya. Because the mutual pining between these two…!!!

    A heart-wrenching use of the miscommunication trope but hell of a lot more compelling. I was hanging on to every scene!

    Kostya found Kirian in his human form but didn’t recognize him. At the same time, the prince was devastated to discover his dragon was missing. And because Kostya is one of the kindest people in the kingdom, he housed, clothed, and fed the stranger and kept him by his side. While searching high and low, calling his dragon’s name.

    Human Kirian hasn’t gain human speaking abilities yet and could only speak with his eyes and action. That scene in the snow where he was silently beseeching Kostya, holding the man’s hand to his heart, that he, Kirian, is right here! here! will forever live in my memory.

    These two dorks blame themselves for everything going wrong in the kingdom. And some more suffering before Kostya realizes his Kirian is there all along. Their story isn’t perfect but it’s unforgettable.

    Dragon’s Descent is why I started this series. I was curious about the loyal knight who helplessly watched his beloved flower prince descend into madness.

    In the first two books, Dima is portrayed as the villain. First forcing Misha’s marriage and then punishing Kostya and Kirian for the accident, then the slew of executions. Whenever Dima’s harsh actions are shown, his loyal bodyguard’s reactions are also mentioned. A pained, heartbroken expression of a man hopelessly in love but could do nothing.

    Arkadii was assigned to then Prince Dmitri when they were both teenagers. He is the son of the captain of the royal guard and his mother instilled her strong sense of duty into him. He and the prince became lovers, the prince was a carefree, joyful creature that flowers bloom wherever he goes.

    Things took a turn when the old king was murdered, along with Arkadii’s mother, who died on duty. Dima was hit hard and barely recovered. After he bonded to the land with blood magic that went awry, he became worse, and Veronyesh(?) slowly began to decline.

    This is also a difficult read, the mad king’s thoughts full of dismal paranoia, frequently hurting Arkadii who’s already at his wit’s end, but still doggedly performs his duties. Dima tends to circle the same dark topics, making the writing repetitive. It’s quite a challenge to redeem this character, and it doesn’t happen quickly.

    But Dima’s recovery did happen, a slow uphill battle but gaining ground nonetheless, giving Arkadii hope that his flower prince is still there. The thing with Arkadii and Dima is that everyone knows they are a unit and assumes they will always be a unit. No one ever brought up the topic of the king marrying a woman and producing heirs.

    Stoic, steadfast Arkadii devoting his life to his Dima almost to the point of martyrdom is hella romantic. I loved this type of seme in BL manga, and Arkadii cut a striking figure in his armor. That closing scene of him and Dima surrounded by springtime flowers is dreamy and magical. A hard-won, much-awaited HEA!

    To Kill A King should be read in order. The books are not standalone. While Dragon’s Dawn might be a struggle to finish, Dragon’s Dusk and Dragon’s Descent are both highly entertaining and better executed. There are threads of betrayal running across the series, but the real villains are deployed like afterthoughts so meh. However, we get two swoony romances, so it’s still a win.

    Overall, a moving saga of royals, dragons, lost souls, and unbreakable bonds.

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    SOUNDTRACK: Stole My Heart by Beasts With No Name, With Me All ALong by Bronze Radio Return & Still Feel by Half Alive

    Soundtrack to To Kill A King: Dragon’s Dawn by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

    Stole My Heart by Beasts With No Name for a forced marriage, an ongoing animosity and an unexpected attraction.

    When did all fall apart in your hands
    Chemistries tell me we should be friends
    I dont know how I’m gonna pretend
    I dont know how I’m gonna pretend

    You stole my, oh my heart
    You stole my, you stole my
    I’m so high, I come apart
    You stole my, you stole my

    I’m a bullet stopped dead in the air
    Smoke hanging silver, caught in your stare

    Soundtrack to To Kill A King: Dragon’s Dusk by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

    With Me All Along by Bronze Radio Return for a book about a man looking for the missing half of his soul and found it was there right beside him all along.

    You’ve been with me all along, all along
    Always on my side, you’ve never gone
    You’ve been with me all along
    And you’ve been holding on, holding on for so long
    When others would be gone, you stayed with me all along

    You’ve been with me when I laugh or cry
    Anywhere I stood, you’d be standing by
    With me when I’m fine, with me when I’m not
    With me when I’m giving everything I got

    Soundtrack to To Kill A King: Dragon’s Descent by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

    Still Feel by Half-Alive for a book about a man untethered finding his way back to himself.

    When I’m furthest from myself (far away)
    Feeling closer to the stars (outer space)
    I’ve been invaded by the dark (can’t escape)
    Trying to recognize myself when I feel I’ve been replaced
    When I’m furthest from myself (far away)
    Feeling closer to the stars (outer space)
    I’ve been invaded by the dark (can’t escape)
    Trying to recognize myself when I feel I’ve been replaced

    I can feel a kick down in my soul
    And it’s pulling me back to earth to let me know
    I am not a slave, can’t be contained
    So pick me from the dark and pull me from the grave

    I still feel alive
    When it’s hopeless
    I start to notice
    That I still feel alive