Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

Today, I’m reviewing Testing the Crown and Shard in the Mirror, books five and six in the Crimson Realm Chronicles by fellow eXasty Books authors Gabriella Bradley and Taryn Jameson.



Testing the CrownTitle:  Testing the Crown
Series:  Crimson Realm Chronicles, #5
Authors:  Taryn Jameson and Gabriella Bradley
Genres:  Sci-Fi/Fantasy Romance, Adult

A throne in peril. The crown challenged…

Blurb:  Born of love and hate, King Biryn must fight between the two. The demons within surface when the woman he loves is abducted by his great-grandfather, the fallen god, Zohmes.

Zohmes wants the throne. His abduction of Cylena ensures that Biryn cannot beget an heir. Imprisoning her in Yanata, the underground world of Ierilia and his to rule, he thinks he is one step further toward the throne and the surface.

Biryn must now face the biggest quest of his life, to defend his throne and crown. He has to travel to Yanata to rescue Cylena. With his team, his family, and the help of the god Izarus, he descends to the heinous bowels of Ierilia.

Will they be able to save his future queen? Can they defeat Zohmes once and for all and bind him forever to Yanata?


Biryn gasped as a vision filled his mind. Cylena, who was no longer huddled in the corner of the cave, but now she was chained naked to the wall. Blood caked her hair and skin. Lesions covered her body. Bruises disfigured her tear-stained face, her eyes were swollen. The image cleared as suddenly as it had appeared. Loud booming, evil laughter echoed around him, rocking the walls of the cavern. A smoky mist, flames bursting through it, coalesced before him, taking the shape of a grotesque man. A mass of wild hair blazed like fire around his head. Hatred distorted his features. The figure ruptured into a mass of flaming black ooze, covering the creatures that guarded the doorway. Flames undulated across the grotesque entities as they surged forward.

“Zohmes,” Biryn heard Astiana whisper beside him.

Rage pooled in Biryn’s belly. Power he had never felt before coursed through his veins infiltrating every cell in his body. Gods, Cylena. The image of her abuse fueled the violence of the magick swelling inside him. His gaze trained on the advancing monstrosities. His team surrounded him, desperately trying to fight off the attack. Magick blazed and weapons fired. The repulsive monsters, fueled by Zohmes’ essence, staved off the team’s defense. Biryn spied a tendril of moss snaking across the floor. It wrapped itself around Brenn’s leg, yanking him off his feet.

A scream rent the air. Light flared from Ciara as she tried to free Brenn by using her magick. The power within Biryn detonated. He held out his hands, ready to grasp the thing that had mangled Brenn’s leg. Instead, fire erupted from his fingers pulverizing the twisting snake-like vine. The monsters disintegrated from the force of his attack. The black substance, covered in flame, poured to the floor. The wispy smoke of Zohmes’ essence coalesced above it, evaporating to nothingness.

Biryn staggered to his knees, reaching out with his mind to the woman who had captured his soul. The thought of her torture ripped his emotions to shreds. Cylena, please, answer me.



I’m going to get straight to the review.  I LOVED this book.  I’d say this one was my fave of the series so far.  And I loved all the others just as much, but there was something about this book that made it to the top of my fave in the series list.  Let’s find out why.

It’s the many reveals.  And I wish I could say more, but if I do, I’ll be spoiling left and right.  But the reveals truly grab a reader.  As I mentioned in my previous reviews, which you can read here, here, and here, each couple gets their own story.  This one features King Biryn, great-grandson of the fallen god Zhomes.  And Cylena, daughter of the evil sorcerer Cerwick and murdered mother Hisatrus (sp), by Cerwick’s hand.

The series doesn’t get stale, and it’s the reveals that keep happening as King Biryn, Brenn, Ciara, Erica, Laro, and many others continue to fight Zhomes and his two sorcerer sidekicks Cerwick and Odoxon’s.

I really enjoyed King Biryn’s and Cylena’s love story.  It was beautifully written, reminding me of an old skool fairy tale.  Biryn was truly a knight in shining armour, but Cylena was no helpless princess.  She helped herself…plenty.

The novel is aptly named because the crown is tested, and Biryn and Cylena have to fight back.

Again, the imagery written by the authors is wonderfully done.  They always give a reader enough to feed their mind, but also allow readers to use their imagination.

I’m enjoying watching the earth characters come into their own.  They have a nice arc of adaption and acceptance because they are on a new planet that they will never be able to leave.

Niquin makes an appearance.  She leads the handmaidens.  It was great to see her again, because I really like her character.

I wish I could say more, but as I said, if I do, I’ll be giving away the plot.  Simply do yourself a favour and start the series by purchasing a copy at eXtasy Books.  You won’t be disappointed.  The authors have created a wonderful world that is a cross between science fiction, fantasy, and medieval times.  There is much romance, action, and discoveries.



Shard in the MirrorTitle:  Shard in the Mirror
Series:  Crimson Realm Chronicles, #6
Authors:   Taryn Jameson and Gabriella Bradley
Genres:  Sci-Fi/Fantasy Romance, Adult

How does a dragon tell the woman he loves that it was he who had delivered her into the hands of the enemy?

Blurb:  Enslaved as one of Cewrick’s feared black dragons, for centuries Taylith had been forced to do the evil sorcerer’s bidding. Finally free of the shackles of slavery, Taylith is enlisted by King Biryn as a member of his elite team.

Plagued with visions of an impending war and the return of the black dragon he once was, Taylith must find a way to tell his lifemate, Laura, that he was the creature that had captured her and delivered her into the hands of the enemy.

To keep Laura safe and save her sister from Zohmes’ clutches, he must allow the god to change him back into the feared creature he once was.


Taylith woke with a start, his body trembling, his heart pounding in his sweat-lathered chest. He sat up, disoriented, while his mind cleared of the horrible visions and his eyes focused on his surroundings. The palace. He was in a guest room. Laura’s room. Yet the clouds, the wind, and the book—the visions—had seemed so real. He could still hear the deep timber of that voice in his ears, feel the heat of fire on his skin. The stench of death still hung heavily in the air. He knew what had been shown to him was no dream. Was it the past? The present? Or was it a very possible future that was now inscribed firmly into the book of knowledge? The god had told him, it is as it was written, and so it shall be done. The black dragons, the priests, the lake of blood—the key. Memories of his slavery to Cewrick burst free of the cage they were trapped in. He knew of the lake. He had heard talk of it from Cewrick’s minions, and there was only one way to get to it. The great scarred beast. He was going to be sick. That scarred beast was him, his black dragon. What the gods required of him was a steep price to pay for their forgiveness. And how was he going to explain to the team what he had seen? Maybe he was reading too much into it.

He had lost track of how the pages had turned. Could a portion of the vision have been of the past? Much of the past had been lost to him. He had regained some of his memories, but not all. A gift from the gods, he supposed. If the gods had allowed him full memory of his time as a black dragon, he doubted he could bear the truth of what he had been and what he had done. He took a slow, deep breath to calm his nausea. Then, rubbing his face with his hands, he realized the bed was empty. He had been so deeply ensnared by the visions, he hadn’t noticed Laura had left. Thank the gods for that. She had her own monsters to battle, and there was no way he could hide the demons that rode him at that moment.



This book starts where Testing the Crown left off.  It is Taylith’s and Laura’s story.  One is a dragon and the other a human from earth.

More reveals happen in this book, which makes it difficult for me to review, because if you haven’t read the other books, I’ll be spoiling and spoiling.  I will concentrate first on Taylith and Laura.

Taylith was previously enslaved by the evil sorcerer Cerwick and forced to do unspeakable acts while under Cerwick’s spell, so this novel deals with Taylith’s arc of guilt to freedom.  Of course he’s full of guilt.  He did some nasty stuff, and poor Laura was one of the enslaved who experienced Taylith’s nastiness as a black dragon.

Now Taylith is free from the curse and falling in love with Laura, and she has no idea Taylith was the horrible black dragon who enslaved and hurt her.

I love this plot for their romance.  Both are dealing with trauma.  Taylith’s trauma is quite apparent, and Laura is still trying to recover from the enslavement she endured at Taylith’s hands as a black dragon under Cerwick’s spell.

This leaves the reader on edge, wondering how their budding romance will play out since Taylith is holding his secret to his chest, afraid of how Laura will react when she finds out he was her torturer.

Again, the world building is impeccable.  The new reveals keep the series fresh, especially a big reveal when a new god is introduced and a new character associated with Laura.

I recommend you keep reading the series, if you have started the books, and if you haven’t yet purchased a copy, to do at eXtasy Books.


Have you read any of the books so far?  Are you willing to give the series a try after reading my reviews?

eXtasy Books

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