Michael Kingman thought he was going to die by the executioner’s axe, forever labelled as a traitor.
Still alive, and under the protection of the Orbis Mercenary company, Michael and his family and friends are deeply involved in the seemingly rival conspiracies that are tearing The Hollows apart.
With the death of the King, both the Corrupt Prince and his sister Serena are vying for the throne, while the Rebel Emperor is spreading lies amongst the people, and all of them want Michael dead. This is a story of betrayal, murder, and rebellion, and in this direct sequel to the debut novel The Kingdom of Liars, also some hope for justice. For readers who love the intrigue and widening scope of epic fantasy like Sanderson’s Mistborn and Week’s The Black Prism, this is your next must-read fantasy series.
Warning: This review contains spoilers.
This review contains spoilers and I received an ARC from Netgalley so all thoughts are my opinion. Thank you to Will O Mullane, Gollancz, and Nick Martell for this!
Michael Kingman deserves a bloody break. Actually, I’d be swearing right now when I’m writing this review as I am so emotional writing this. A masterpiece. A true masterpiece! The Two Faced Queen is a fantastic book, it improves upon the sequel in so many ways. It made me go emotional I had my fists bawling in certain high moments. High tension action, gripping drama, and so many secrets. This book is a temple of secrets. That I can say without a shadow of a doubt. This is a story that had me broken down to tears. A story, that had I looked at it again, would still cry over. I am so amazed, and yet so sad and so happy at the same time. This is a story of triumph over evil. I don’t care how grim-dark it is, there is an element of heroic scope in this story. An understanding. A very mature understanding of the grim realities of what is a hero, and what is a villain. I can see my own bias towards Michael in this story. And to be honest, I don’t mind at all. I have not seen such a character like him, and neither would I ever want to again, because a character like Michael achieves so much in this novel, that he may be the very best definition of what defines an actual anti-hero. He is like Jorg Ancrath from Mark’s Lawrence’s the Broken Empire trilogy, similar but not too familiar. Jorg is more of a coward, whereas Michael is more of a villain trying to be a hero. If these two were to ever meet, I am sure they’d have a lot to talk about. A lot.
I just want to get this out of my system. The people treating Michael as a person who’s a liar, a man that lies to protect his family, are so rude and bad to him I was wondering for a second. Michael may not be the best hero, nor the best villain. But he is Niccolò Machiavelli reborn. He is a clever man. The result of his upbringing of being branded a traitor for something his father was accused of, does not mean that all the people in this world have to be rude to him. I’d argue that most of the characters were far more selfish and evil. Michael is an innocent human being that was beset by powerful figures such as the cunning Angelo, his foster father, and Domet. A man whose’s motives are still shrouded even to this day. And the entire conflict between the Hollow and the Kingman family. Jeez the Hollow’s need to give it a break. They really need to.
Do you know who I’m most angry at? Serena. She is no doubt grieving over the loss of her father. But I ask. What did Serena’s family do to help King Issac’s mental health? Easy, let’s put the blame on Michael because he is there! Although Serena does improve at the end. And Naomi, who is a great character, I just have to say stop flirting with Michael when you have feelings for another person. This, this right here. You see my emotions coming alive as I write this review? This is the hallmark of a great writer. This is the stuff of legends. This is what stories are made of. This is how you tell a story. Kingman may never seek to be a hero, he may never seek to be a good man. But he has a curse. A curse to help people and get insulted by those that were his friends and are still his friends. Trey and Rock? Best characters. I don’t want Trey and Kingman to confront…but there is a chance.
Was I a character in this story, I’d be a High Archmage that could be a Spellborn mage that can manipulate memories for good. Not bad. And I’d say to most of Michael’s friends and enemies. That man has sacrificed himself for you. He’s done a lot more in this book, been on the receiving curse of endless insults, of endless banter. Perhaps you lot could be a little more grateful. If Michael were gone, I’d bet you would miss him. Because I have never seen such a character like Michael, and nor should I ever hope to. I do not think I would want to see a character like that, who has achieved so much throughout all the ups and downs he’s gone through. In the end, Michael has one of the best redemption arcs in this entire novel. And Nick, you’ve done it. I don’t know what structure you used. I know when I read your tweets about writing this novel and how you were struggling through it. Guess what? This was worth every minute. Every minute of blood, sweat, and tear that went into the making of the Two-Faced Queen’s manuscript has worked. I have discovered so many secrets, that I wonder what I would do with all that knowledge. I pity Michael, for he has a far greater destiny ahead of him. A far greater one.
Remembered memories are bitter and sweet, are they not? This novel will take you all over the place. You will discover heart-breaking secrets, engage in vicious brutal combat, and witness some of the most horrifying scenes you’ll see. The quality and level of writing are akin to that of the writers who write the scripts for Elder Scrolls Online, Dragon Age Inquisition, and God of War. Some criticism I’ve had is I’ve noticed there are a lot of noble families. I would have wanted more simplification of them. Another thing is I need a map. There are so many new empires, kingdoms that I want to explore, plus pirates and ships! This world is much bigger. I say dear reader when you read the first book, the Kingdom of Liars, this book expands. And it expands wonderfully. Dark is one of the deepest, best characters I’ve read. He still holds more secrets than I know.
And Angelo is a horrendous being. As was Dark’s Grandfather. As is nearly everyone except Gwen, Dawn, Trey, Rock, Michael, Juliet, Domet, the King of Stories, and the true villains of this story. And a request. I want more of the King of Stories. There is a certain place called the Gold Coast…and I say to Nick, give me pirates, give me oceans, give me glorious naval battles, give me sun-baked deserts, and give me Arabian-style fantasy, please. Let me meet with the Sultans of the Gold Coast, or something like that. Oh and just have Serena and Michael marry each other and break the stupid rigid traditions that their family imposes on them please? It’s clearly evident, the two are in love with each other. I don’t need to be Odin in American Gods to figure that one out from the first book! I’m shipping them now.
You, sir, have done a tremendous book. This is one of those books where my criticism, is naught but few! This is one of those books you need to have on your bookshelf. But it is imperative that you buy both: The Kingdom of Liars Book 1, and the Two-Faced Queen Book 2. Without these two in order, you will not understand the chain of events that link this book together. It is fantastic, and I thoroughly recommend this novel! Thoroughly!