Thank you so much to Inkyard press and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.
Here is the summary from Goodreads;
Alskad has been ruled by the singleborn…but the new heir to the throne carries a secret that will change everything
When an assassin’s bullet takes the life of Queen Runa and allows an impostor to steal the throne, Bo Trousillion is forced to flee the empire that is his birthright. With few choices left and burdened with a secret that could disinherit him, Bo pursues an alliance with Noriava, the Queen of Denor, but the devious royal ensnares him in a trap and demands a huge price for her aid.
To the south, Vi Abernathy—Bo’s secret twin—joins a ragtag army of resistance fighters, determined to free Alskad and the colony of Ilor from the control of the corrupt temple and its leaders. But as Vi discovers a strength she never knew she had and prepares to rejoin her brother in Alskad, news of the coup and Bo’s narrow escape arrive in Ilor.
Determined to rescue Bo, Vi sails to Denor with the rebels at her side and a plan to outwit Queen Noriava, knowing there’s only one way she and Bo will be able to save the Alskad Empire—together
When I first requested The Exalted I didn’t realize that it was a sequel, so I had the pleasure of binge reading the duology. One thing I really appreciate is how The Diminished ended in a very. satisfying and non cliffhanger ish way, so I was more than ready to read this but did feel pressured to. I was glad to have it lined up!
This book put me through the entire spectrum of emotions, I was laughing, clapped a few times, spilled a few tears for various fallen warriors, and ended with a book hangover that resulted in a grossly delayed review (I’m sorry, my bad). There was a LOT going on in this book though -the Suzerain (religious sect/temple) took down the queen and plotted a coup, Bo had to go deal with Noriava, all the rebel fighting, then the maneuvering to take back the throne… Very busy but very well fleshed out and surprisingly linear novel – I had to force myself to put it down.
The Exalted moved a lot faster than the previous book and every part of it mattered. I was reading as much as I could each day! I loved Bo and Vi’s family and the little girls were hilarious. All of the new characters were great, Noriava as cunning as anyone, the general, and the camp warriors who we met. There were some surprising characters too but I will leave it at “holy cow, the Shriven”! (They are the Suzerain’s warriors.)
I do believe that some books read better with a rough ending, and I appreciate that in a war important people are going to die…but really? I wasn’t sure if I should be impressed at how many main characters died or if it was overdone. One particular hero I do feel like should have gotten some last words, or something, he was so important and if you were reading quickly you would have missed where he died. Bye bye new and shortlived book boyfriend 😦 😦 😦
Why did H die and not M? the twin thing didn’t seem entirely consistent but I am so glad there were also some platonic relationships in this book. I also think Vi’s depressive bout was real and important, this whole book just felt very,,,real…at times.
Anyway – Found families, gay characters, I don’t understand nonbinary but that was mentioned, strong female leaders, and nail biting nonstop action with a twist of court intrigue and betrayal out the wazoo…if these are your tropes and you’re not afraid to cry, go grab this duology and get to it! An easy 5 stars for this book!