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Vows of Empire

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Two young princes on opposite sides of a war must decide between loyalty and love in this galaxy-shaking finale of the Bloodright Trilogy. Gal and Ettian have never been farther apart. Once, they were roommates and best friends, each suffocating under a secret of galactic consequence. When Gal’s came to light—that he was heir to the Umber Empire and all of its brutal conque Two young princes on opposite sides of a war must decide between loyalty and love in this galaxy-shaking finale of the Bloodright Trilogy. Gal and Ettian have never been farther apart. Once, they were roommates and best friends, each suffocating under a secret of galactic consequence. When Gal’s came to light—that he was heir to the Umber Empire and all of its brutal conquest—the two were forced to flee their military academy, fall in with a brewing rebellion to reclaim the Archon Empire from Umber’s grasp, and face their long-held feelings for each other. Then the rebellion discovered Gal’s identity and to save his life, Ettian had no choice but to unveil his own secret: that he was the long-lost heir to the Archon throne. With Gal as a political prisoner, Ettian began the fight to restore his own empire—and to open Gal’s eyes to the possibility of a galaxy reclaimed from Umber’s greed. But just when Gal was starting to come around, a team of Umber operatives rescued him from Archon’s clutches and dragged him home to take up his crown. Now, separated for the first time and in full command of the might of their respective forces, the star-crossed rulers find themselves truly at odds. And with the war reaching a tipping point, the time has finally come for Gal and Ettian to confront what they owe their empires, their friends, and each other if they’re ever to forge a universe where the two of them can be together.


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Two young princes on opposite sides of a war must decide between loyalty and love in this galaxy-shaking finale of the Bloodright Trilogy. Gal and Ettian have never been farther apart. Once, they were roommates and best friends, each suffocating under a secret of galactic consequence. When Gal’s came to light—that he was heir to the Umber Empire and all of its brutal conque Two young princes on opposite sides of a war must decide between loyalty and love in this galaxy-shaking finale of the Bloodright Trilogy. Gal and Ettian have never been farther apart. Once, they were roommates and best friends, each suffocating under a secret of galactic consequence. When Gal’s came to light—that he was heir to the Umber Empire and all of its brutal conquest—the two were forced to flee their military academy, fall in with a brewing rebellion to reclaim the Archon Empire from Umber’s grasp, and face their long-held feelings for each other. Then the rebellion discovered Gal’s identity and to save his life, Ettian had no choice but to unveil his own secret: that he was the long-lost heir to the Archon throne. With Gal as a political prisoner, Ettian began the fight to restore his own empire—and to open Gal’s eyes to the possibility of a galaxy reclaimed from Umber’s greed. But just when Gal was starting to come around, a team of Umber operatives rescued him from Archon’s clutches and dragged him home to take up his crown. Now, separated for the first time and in full command of the might of their respective forces, the star-crossed rulers find themselves truly at odds. And with the war reaching a tipping point, the time has finally come for Gal and Ettian to confront what they owe their empires, their friends, and each other if they’re ever to forge a universe where the two of them can be together.

30 review for Vows of Empire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bon

    Forgot to mention this during the actual week but happy release to this conclusion! Thank you to Netgalley and Sabrina Shen over at Del Rey for an ARC to finish off this series. Although there are aspects I enjoyed, think it's safe to say this leaned more towards letdown like the second book. I'm probably in the minority here and gonna start with what I didn't love, so the good will stick better at the end. I think the editor was slacking. By the third book of overdone writing, paragraphs stretched Forgot to mention this during the actual week but happy release to this conclusion! Thank you to Netgalley and Sabrina Shen over at Del Rey for an ARC to finish off this series. Although there are aspects I enjoyed, think it's safe to say this leaned more towards letdown like the second book. I'm probably in the minority here and gonna start with what I didn't love, so the good will stick better at the end. I think the editor was slacking. By the third book of overdone writing, paragraphs stretched out, and sentences weighed down with far too much metaphor and florid language, it gets old. I skipped whole sections of Too Much Politicking or Strategizing, over and over. We've seen this in the previous books; much tell, and hardly any show. The book wasn't long but it sure felt like it. That's a feat in a book clocking in under 300 pages. That leads me to the sense of stake. Everyting was depicted in such a hyperbolic, world's gonna end way that I think Skrutzkie sabotaged herself, like a narrative crying of wolf. Over and over we're told whole systems are at risk, how bloodthirsty Gal's parents are, all this extremely high-stakes tension is built into this trilogy. And yet at the end of it all, I never really felt that. Much of the tragedy is reduced to flashbacks, tension watered down with our characters removed from it by a generation. I get that it's YA but the characters' gravitas in every conversation and inner monologue defies what Cost we see. Avoiding spoilers but there are so many GOTCHA moments of a particular nature in this book that I stopped believing anything I read on-page, and that's just not effective storytelling. But now on to the better parts. It's always emotional getting to the ends of things, and I have real affection for this series, from its conception as fanfic with the serial numbers filled off, to the tropes, to the gorgeous covers. The first book was easily consumed, despite Pandemic Brain, and that I appreciate. I love how organic the inclusion of queer characters was in this series, how the world plays with gender roles and sexuality. Outer space, that blackness between planets, is a liminal space, like the wild west or the sea during the age of piracy; it begs this kind of acceptance of anything and everything. The gay, gruff generals, the sapphic commodores, the nonbinary ambassadors, and use of the title Emprex, those parts were awesome. What romance there was, was very good, complete with pining and feral makeout scenes. The ending was lovely and probably the best way it could go, given the pressures of the story. Women characters were allowed to shine, and even got POV slots in this one. It was neat to read Hanji's voice for once. The messaging of taking down monarchies and inherited right of rule was incredible. All in all, the Bloodright Trilogy was pretty fine. It's an inclusive world, an improvement upon its familiar base in popular sci-fi fandoms, and I applaude it releasing all three volumes through a global pandemic.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shilo Quetchenbach

    Now THIS is how you end a trilogy that's been nothing but one plot twist and con after another with a bang. I fell in love with Ettian and Gal and Wen from the very beginning of Bonds of Brass. The writing style employed in these novels is easy and conversational and personal, making incredibly good use of first person perspective. The story races along at full tilt with plots and secrets and betrayals and counter betrayals and 'wait-that's-not-actually-a-betrayal's slotting into place and never Now THIS is how you end a trilogy that's been nothing but one plot twist and con after another with a bang. I fell in love with Ettian and Gal and Wen from the very beginning of Bonds of Brass. The writing style employed in these novels is easy and conversational and personal, making incredibly good use of first person perspective. The story races along at full tilt with plots and secrets and betrayals and counter betrayals and 'wait-that's-not-actually-a-betrayal's slotting into place and never quiiiiite spinning out of control, but only just. The first book was Ettian-focused, and the second Gal-focused, but in this one there's a nice balance of the two and also a look into Wen and a growing familiarity with the utter chaos that is the Wraiths. If I can just quote from my review of the second book in the trilogy (Oaths of Legacy) for a moment: --- "...if I could read about Wen going off-script with a mad slap-dash plan and Ettian caring too much and Gal “fed up to here with these two idiots but don’t anyone dare touch them” emp-Umber attempting to manipulate everyone forever I totally would... " --- Same, past self. Same. After absolutely flying through this final book at a breakneck pace I can say that I am completely satisfied with the ending. It's the best ending these characters could have dreamed up. It is everything I wanted (and several things I didn't know I wanted). The plot twists and surprises and long cons nearly killed me several times over as I read, in the best way possible. I love a good twisty plot where the characters are pulling multiple cons on each other and ALSO on the reader, and this trilogy definitely delivers, with moments that made me gasp and moments that made me want to cheer as things fell into place. I am in awe of Emily Skrutskie's plotting skills and also will read absolutely anything she writes because this trilogy and these characters have completely stolen my heart. *Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, Del Rey for providing an e-arc for review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    MeadeReads

    I doubt this book has even been written…but I loved it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh Okay! First off, this book is MUCH better than book 2. By all accounts, even Gal's abrasively naive and immature mood swings finally take a back seat, and thank god because I didn't know if I could handle it. What I loved most about this book is that I truly could not tell where it was going to end and who was playing who. I guess with books it's so easy to write knowing that so much is going on "behind the scenes" that the reader can't see so it's fun to string them along. T Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh Okay! First off, this book is MUCH better than book 2. By all accounts, even Gal's abrasively naive and immature mood swings finally take a back seat, and thank god because I didn't know if I could handle it. What I loved most about this book is that I truly could not tell where it was going to end and who was playing who. I guess with books it's so easy to write knowing that so much is going on "behind the scenes" that the reader can't see so it's fun to string them along. There were many points where I was so shocked and went HUH?? after reading specific chapters. That was something that I loved so much from the first book and and really set the mood and intensity of the story. This happened in the second book but for me was just sour twist after twist that I couldn't understand or cope with. In this one, many of those twists stress me out, but I was not particularly upset by them and I felt that they made sense to the plot when they were later explained. I love Ettian and Wen's relationship, I love the ride or die vow that they have together and how supportive they are all of each other after such a shit last few months of politics and danger. I think Ettian and Wen really steal back the spotlight of this book and I think in a way almost overshadow the original pair of Gal and Ettian which I guess can be considered a bad thing. I was content with the ending though I could see it coming by about 75% through the book, it wasn't a shock, though in the back of my head I was constantly wondering if Emily was about to pull an Allegiant. For me, I think that plotline is so supercharged and spectacular that I was fully ready to accept it here. Something about destroying your main characters and having a queer woman take over really suited me, but killing of two lgbtqia lovers in the process probably wouldn't have been good for business. I respect that it didn't happen though a part of me is still menacingly rubbing my hands together pretending it did. My one big complaint is that we barely have any time or dialogue with Gal and Ettian together. All the pining and slow burn of the first book fizzles out in book 2 and then becomes a fast side plot to politics in book 3. I want the drama and the action but I also want the romance. That's definitely the one thing I wish was different. We got so much great time between Ettian and Wen, but none of our boys. Overall, I believe this series redeems itself and I'm happy to own all of them and definitely will reread them again in the future even if I skip book 2. Praise be!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I don't think I can properly put into words how very much I love Wen Iffan. Listen, if you've read the first two books in the trilogy, you know what to expect from this one: space shenanigans, insouciant reclining, political machinations, completely stupid boys pining, incredibly competent ladies making the galaxy a better place, and the minivan of starships. This book delivers in every way possible on the promise of the first two, unraveling a scheme several books in the making. You know how th I don't think I can properly put into words how very much I love Wen Iffan. Listen, if you've read the first two books in the trilogy, you know what to expect from this one: space shenanigans, insouciant reclining, political machinations, completely stupid boys pining, incredibly competent ladies making the galaxy a better place, and the minivan of starships. This book delivers in every way possible on the promise of the first two, unraveling a scheme several books in the making. You know how this one's going to end--you know there's a plan; and yet, you remain on the edge of your seat, biting your nails to stubs in anticipation of how it's all going to work out. Skrutskie is brilliant, and at this point, I trust her to always give me a wild and entertaining ride full of emotional roller-coasters and absolute satisfaction. If you haven't read this trilogy yet--hey, it's done now! You don't have to wait in between cliffhangers to get to this ending. So what are you waiting for? Go read it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I just- I can’t- I don’t- These books fucked me UP, my dudes. They chewed me up and spat me back out. When I picked up Bonds of Brass, I was like “oh, Finn/Poe fanfiction, this’ll be cute” but it was SO MUCH MORE. This was action and betrayal and secrets and TWISTS. The motherfucking TWISTS. Like when Wen stabbed Ettian, I KNEW it had to be a trick but I was TRAUMATIZED. I absolutely lost my fucking shit like I’ve never lost it over a work of fiction before in my LIFE. Heavens and hells, Emily knows how I just- I can’t- I don’t- These books fucked me UP, my dudes. They chewed me up and spat me back out. When I picked up Bonds of Brass, I was like “oh, Finn/Poe fanfiction, this’ll be cute” but it was SO MUCH MORE. This was action and betrayal and secrets and TWISTS. The motherfucking TWISTS. Like when Wen stabbed Ettian, I KNEW it had to be a trick but I was TRAUMATIZED. I absolutely lost my fucking shit like I’ve never lost it over a work of fiction before in my LIFE. Heavens and hells, Emily knows how to write a good story. This was one of THE best sci-fi action stories I’ve ever read. It was funny and witty and I felt so much joy and excitement and shock and just UGH. And the characters! I love love love Wen. She’s so smart and capable and badass and she is going to do a fanTASTIC job at tearing down bloodright and reshaping the galaxy, with Hanji by her side helping her every step of the way. And while I still haven’t quite forgiven Hanji for shooting Ettian, I love the Wraiths with my whole ass heart. Each and every one of those idiots who share a single brain cell 💖💖💖💖 And ETTIAN. And GAL. And ETTIAN-AND-GAL. My gods, I’ll be thinking about these boys for the rest of my fucking life. They’ve gone through so much pain and sacrifice and struggle, and I am SO HAPPY they got their happy ending. Fucking soft boys. Fucking saps. So fucking in love it makes me want to 🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮 10 out of 10

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mariam

    I've always been told I have my mother's eyes, and now I turn them to their old purpose- bending the men of the Gordan bloodline to their every capricious whim. Similar to its predecessor, Vows of Empire has an incredibly slow build-up and spends over half the book repeating themes that have been long established. Furthermore, the scope of the war has grown so large that the much-needed detail about certain characters and events is no longer possible. With the trilogy coming to a close, I fin I've always been told I have my mother's eyes, and now I turn them to their old purpose- bending the men of the Gordan bloodline to their every capricious whim. Similar to its predecessor, Vows of Empire has an incredibly slow build-up and spends over half the book repeating themes that have been long established. Furthermore, the scope of the war has grown so large that the much-needed detail about certain characters and events is no longer possible. With the trilogy coming to a close, I find that I still know very little about Gal, Ettian, and Wen, let alone minor characters such as Hanji and the Wraith squadron. These flaws are nothing new and have been holding the story back since the first book. On the bright side, the last hundred pages or so were interesting enough that I stopped skimming. The action, plot twists, and ending were unpredictable which is always a good sign. Though it was still rushed, I prefer it to a story that drags on. Overall, a nice conclusion to a fun trilogy. ARC provided by NetGalley

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wafflepirates

    *Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.* Rating: 3.5 Based on how book 2 ended, I wasn't sure what to expect going into this one. Told mostly in a dual pov switching between Gal and Ettian as what at first seems like separate plot lines come together as the two plan something big. While both coming at it from different views, the pair realize the bloodright system is flawed and needs to be fixed, while also realizing they need a way t *Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.* Rating: 3.5 Based on how book 2 ended, I wasn't sure what to expect going into this one. Told mostly in a dual pov switching between Gal and Ettian as what at first seems like separate plot lines come together as the two plan something big. While both coming at it from different views, the pair realize the bloodright system is flawed and needs to be fixed, while also realizing they need a way to thwart the Umber Empire's bloodthirsty ways. They enlist the help of Wen, who is probably the most competent person in this series, and Gal's Wraith squadron (led by Hanji, also an incredibly smart and interesting character). There's a main plan involving all of them that is largely kept secret, even as it begins unfolding, and seemingly unexpected roadblocks pop up that make it seem like there's more scheming going on than just what Gal and Ettian have cooked up. I felt like keeping such a huge, driving plot point under wraps, even until the last chapter practically, made it difficult to follow at times. There weren't enough hints at what the endgame was, and that made the plot seem messy at times. I also found it strange that (view spoiler)[they pulled the fake your death thing several times, having the Wraiths do it then it happen again sort of cheapened the effect for me. (hide spoiler)] While I wasn't wholly satisfied with how it ended, I did think it suited the story and brought some character arcs to a good end. And while I wish a lot of my understanding of the plot wasn't in hindsight, the actual plot was solid and interesting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    elise p

    While I more or less enjoyed Vows of Empire, it's my opinion that it does fall far short of the previous two books in the trilogy. The trilogy follows a very familiar arc in that the scope gets larger and larger with each book, but this fails for two reasons. The first being it was the tight, character-driven aspects of the first book combined with easy-to-follow action on a small scale that made it both loveable and easy to follow. By book 3, the scope is literally intergalactic, and the detail While I more or less enjoyed Vows of Empire, it's my opinion that it does fall far short of the previous two books in the trilogy. The trilogy follows a very familiar arc in that the scope gets larger and larger with each book, but this fails for two reasons. The first being it was the tight, character-driven aspects of the first book combined with easy-to-follow action on a small scale that made it both loveable and easy to follow. By book 3, the scope is literally intergalactic, and the details about the politics and the world itself start to become unrealistic (both in terms of the sci-fi, but more importantly, in the area of human motivation) and difficult to understand. Important side characters just don't act like humans with human motivation and critical thinking skills would. I was glad to follow our MCs through one more journey, but it unfortunately wasn't my favorite. *Many thanks to Del Ray and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this highly-anticipated ARC!*

  10. 5 out of 5

    Panderp

    I am so thankful to have had this series brought into my life. It's everything that I think of when I say I want well written and diverse queer stories. Yes, Gal and Ettian are utterly gone for each other but the fact that they're queer is the LEAST IMPORTANT part about it! I just want fantastic stories that include characters who are queer, without having the story revolve around the fact that it's queer, and the Bloodright Trilogy delivered! And not only that, but the female characters are SO G I am so thankful to have had this series brought into my life. It's everything that I think of when I say I want well written and diverse queer stories. Yes, Gal and Ettian are utterly gone for each other but the fact that they're queer is the LEAST IMPORTANT part about it! I just want fantastic stories that include characters who are queer, without having the story revolve around the fact that it's queer, and the Bloodright Trilogy delivered! And not only that, but the female characters are SO GOOD! Wen and Hanji and the Commodore and even Iva emp-Umber, in all her horrifying glory, are epic. These women know how to get shit done and (ignoring the tyrannical empress) will do wonders for the future of the galaxy! I look forward to the day I read these all back to back, rather than waiting a year in between. I need to experience it all again. It was worth it to sow the seeds of discord I'll no doubt reap when I go back to my administration. Worth it to wage this war, worth it to save his sorry ass from the academy when this whole mess started. I've said it before. I've wanted to believe it so badly, and now I can. No empire is worth it if I don't have him too.

  11. 4 out of 5

    rebecca

    ”we chase our hearts’ desire across the stars” i was fully prepared to get mad at this book, but i gotta say that wow. it completely surprised me for the better. it’s an absolute joy to read about cons and plotting in space and i’m so happy to have picked up this trilogy!! but i’m not gonna lie, i was about to pull my hair out over how many times the word ‘bloodright’ was mentioned. what did i ever expect from a trilogy legit named ‘the bloodright trilogy’ though??

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alex Lake

    I think this was a really great end to the trilogy. I really missed Wen and Ettian and Gal so much. They really are the finnpoe we never got huh. I do think it was a little rushed in some parts and there is definitely a lot of political and strategic talk in this book which isn’t something that really suits my fancy, but overall I really liked it. The epilogue did makes me cry a bit I’m not gonna lie. But yeah, if you haven’t read the rest of this trilogy yet and you like star wars and wanted fi I think this was a really great end to the trilogy. I really missed Wen and Ettian and Gal so much. They really are the finnpoe we never got huh. I do think it was a little rushed in some parts and there is definitely a lot of political and strategic talk in this book which isn’t something that really suits my fancy, but overall I really liked it. The epilogue did makes me cry a bit I’m not gonna lie. But yeah, if you haven’t read the rest of this trilogy yet and you like star wars and wanted finnpoe to be canon, I definitely recommend catching up in time for the release of the last book! This arc was provided to me through Netgalley for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    The build up to the final confrontation from the beginning lead to this moment. An enemies to lovers romance with a twist set in the backdrop of far future space and two clashing empires. The first book in the trilogy grabbed my attention and now I am excited to see it come to an exciting end. My full review will post at Books of the Heart on July 6th.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katie Kemble

    This is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It is definitely required that you read the first two books in the series to enjoy this book. The final book in the series contains the viewpoints of several characters, but relies mostly on Gal and Ettian. Our two heroes have been separated across a galaxy, but they have some tricks up their sleeves! Gal and Ettian must work out how fix the broken system of blood rights, while staying true to their friends, and navigating an inevitable clash betwe This is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It is definitely required that you read the first two books in the series to enjoy this book. The final book in the series contains the viewpoints of several characters, but relies mostly on Gal and Ettian. Our two heroes have been separated across a galaxy, but they have some tricks up their sleeves! Gal and Ettian must work out how fix the broken system of blood rights, while staying true to their friends, and navigating an inevitable clash between their empires. Oh, and avoid the wrath of a cruel empress/mother. The characters beg the reader to ask the question of who should rule empires and how. Wen gets more focus in this book, but the character development that gets her to the end of the book is perhaps too little established. There are some good action scenes and twists that aren’t explained until the end of the book. I really enjoyed finding out how this space opera, focused on two people who love each other deeply, finished. I loved these characters so much that I wanted to see what they would do after the end of the book, but I also love getting to imagine it for myself. Well edited and paced. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an early copy of this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elsie

    I will go way too in depth with some spoiler thoughts and comments but first: I got and devoured this on release day just like I did for #2 and wow. My heart! Was this a perfect book? No. But for the sheer rush of emotions and laughs this book brought me (especially in the height of my grief over the loss of a parent wherein this book release was the one thing I was looking forward to and enjoyed over the past months) this deserves 5 stars! I do wish the boys spent more time to together (like th I will go way too in depth with some spoiler thoughts and comments but first: I got and devoured this on release day just like I did for #2 and wow. My heart! Was this a perfect book? No. But for the sheer rush of emotions and laughs this book brought me (especially in the height of my grief over the loss of a parent wherein this book release was the one thing I was looking forward to and enjoyed over the past months) this deserves 5 stars! I do wish the boys spent more time to together (like this should be romance first machinations second) but I also appreciate the subversion of mlm fiction by giving female characters prominent and memorable roles in the story. I've seen some critiques of the prose but honestly I enjoy it! I don't mind a little melodrama and flowery-ness and I think it holds well under each of the POVs (which I suspected there would be swapped POVs since the end of the last book and I appreciated being right). Now for a lot of spoiler discussion: (view spoiler)[ While I do love that the boys got to go run off and be in love together I personally would've preferred to see them retain their royal status. The narrative itself critiques Corinth's democracy for having much the same impact as monarchy and Gal/Ettian's removal from the political scene doesn't mean monarchy or bloodright will end for the better. If anything it just shows that the minor bloodline aristocracy has more power. In the real-world context I appreciate the anti-monarchical sentiment but this is a story and I love working with the monarchy concept. Like at least y'all could've become constitutional monarchs or something. We end the story with the boys getting their wish of living out their lives together (omg the last chapter being "US" made me scream) but from a story standpoint I wanted more! I actually enjoy political strategizing nonsense so I was very entertained by the plans but I'm also so sad we didn't get to see the fallout! Also I did end up predicting quite a bit of the actual plan before it played out in the narrative. Which I didn't mind but it made me realize that I would've preferred getting the plan upfront. I understand that since the plan had to be kept from the audience, we didn't get more introspective insight in the POVs during the journey but personally I would've easily sacrificed the surprise factor for knowing more about everyone's thoughts! I wanted to know more about their week all together in the apartment as well! The romance is easily this series' strong-point and we got so little of it. Getting to listen in on Gal/Ettian's thoughts and conversations during the planning stage would've gone a long way in strengthening the heart of the plot. As well, since there seemed to be so many back up plans I would've much rather have learned about everyone's doubts and angst throughout their attempts to succeed rather than be stuck along the ride that the rest of the galaxy witnessed. Also someone must've figured out that there was something smoking going on, especially since they managed to fake four deaths, why not two more? Also it made me sad that the Archon team pushed past Ettian's death so quickly, like didn't the core team know him at all? It would've been so out of character for him to retreat, I though Iral and others would've grown to have cared for him more by this point. Also what about the public opinion? You'd think there would be eventual backlash no matter how well liked Wen was before her coup. Not to mention that all these characters are still teens (or maybe early 20s if I counted the timeline wrong), you'd expect more suspicion (to be fair I just pretended they were older the whole series since it only just teeters on YA/NA). There was definitely room for this book to have been longer and to have gotten more character exploration as well. We for sure missed out on more of Gal's complicated feelings for his parents beneath all the scheming. I also wonder why Gal killing his mother and taking over the Umber regime was never an option? Or at least considered? On one hand the narrative established her as a violent antagonist and yet it does nothing to end her rule other than by undermining her succession. Has no one considered that she could simply have another baby? Especially since this is a sci-fi? This was a definitely a missed opportunity for at the very least some moral reckoning even if Gal chose to spare his parents because he loved them (which, did he? It's hard to say! I wish I knew). It also leave the audience (and the galaxy) with an ongoing enemy even by the end of the series. The greatest risk to Gal ruling is that he's too averse to violence to avoid assassination but I think he may have been able to do more good holding those reigns. I need someone to write a fanfic where Gal uses the Wraiths to kill his parents, he ends Umber rule in Archon and then keeps up a tryst with Ettian under the guise of continued diplomacy. Overall, I can see how this was probably the best ending for the boys (and how Skrutskie probably worked with them living out "normal" lives together as her endpoint) but I definitely feel a little sad for the sake of a larger plot. It also maybe feels like the cowards way out for the two of them? They definitely deserved to be selfish but I wanted to see them balance love and duty where they were granted so much power. But I am a sucker for complex royal romances with a drop of powercouple thrown in so maybe that's just me. Also!!! when (and where) did Esperanza manage to secretly get married amidst that whole war btw? She just dropped that on us when she could've invited us smh, (hide spoiler)] Regardless, the first book remains probably my favourite in the series but the whole trilogy now holds a place in my heart and will get a good couple of re-reads through the years. (I made a great spotify playlist for this after the first one so now it's an obligation at this point)

  16. 5 out of 5

    bee

    full review to come. i will never recover from this

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The fact that I am writing this review at all should be counted as impressive considering that I have been reduced to a pool of formless emotional mush. I am somehow both completely numb and on the verge of tears. I am ruined. When I read Bonds of Brass two years ago, during the absolute height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I couldn’t believe that book existed. Now – we are lucky to be living in a world where I see books like this more and more – but I still find myself a little bit in awe of what Sk The fact that I am writing this review at all should be counted as impressive considering that I have been reduced to a pool of formless emotional mush. I am somehow both completely numb and on the verge of tears. I am ruined. When I read Bonds of Brass two years ago, during the absolute height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I couldn’t believe that book existed. Now – we are lucky to be living in a world where I see books like this more and more – but I still find myself a little bit in awe of what Skrutskie has done here. A little bit in doubt that I actually just got to finish a space-opera-romance with these characters. Confession: when I read Oaths of Legacy, I was so foggy on Bonds of Brass that I didn’t realize the two books had different narrators. I just thought Gal had narrated both lmaooo. That’s how vague my memories were! So when I found out this book was coming out, I dug deep and found the time and energy to do a full reread of the first two books. I came into this book with my knowledge fresh! (It also made me laugh super hard that I had mixed up Gal and Ettian in book 1 because like… that whole book is SOOOOO Ettian) So how do I feel. Well, it was unpredictable! I did not expect (view spoiler)[Ettian to find out about Gal’s betrayal in chapter 1, a marriage proposal from Gal’s mother to Ettian, an ACTUAL marriage between Wen and Ettian, 6 fake deaths, Wen as Empress, Gal and Ettian giving up their thrones. Oof!!! (hide spoiler)] I think I stopped and said “WAIT WHAT” out loud at almost the end of every chapter. It was a ride. However, if I have one complaint about this book, it’s (view spoiler)[that in order to create shocking plot twists and keep the reader in the dark, I feel like we were deprived of some of the interiority that we would normally get from Gal and Ettian. And I’m sorry, but if Gal and Ettian are going to be apart for almost the ENTIRE book, I need my little crumbs of them thinking about each other!! They were very present in the first half, but the second half? Barely so. And when the love story is kind of… let’s be honest… the main story… it felt weird that it was so absent from so much of the book. It’s like, everything was perfectly plotted and so cool and suspenseful but also: THIS IS MY LAST CHANCE TO SPEND TIME WITH ETTIAN AND GAL. I WANT MORE OF THEM. GIVE ME MORE. Book 1 they were together the whole time, Book 2 they were together a lot, and Book 3……….. I mean yall it’s like 2 or 3 chapters. AGH. And I think I wanted more not only because of the shippyness of it all, but because legitimately I think that seeing them work through what it means to be together after the severity of their betrayals and lies… is fascinating. Like I could read a whole book about just that. Show me them working through some of that conflict, show me them unintentionally hurting each other and figuring out how to stop, show me them dealing with their heaps of trauma. So when I rolled around to the last 40 pages and had to realize like… this is it. Probably just one or two chapters of them. Idk. I was sad, my dudes. However! I can only be sad about not having more of Gal/Ettian because Skrutskie has created something so magnificent and wonderful here. (hide spoiler)] Like my biggest complaint about this book is basically: but I want a sequel :(((((( But that ending? (view spoiler)[ I feel sheer, boundless joy. I nearly began weeping at the beauty of it. At the perfect satisfaction of it. An “Us” chapter?! Literally destroy me!!!! (hide spoiler)] Also (view spoiler)[ why the hell didn’t Wen/Hanji become an official thing? I’m just saying. WHY. (hide spoiler)] Whatever differences or changes I might wish for: Vows of Empire has joined the very elite group of books that I have finished in less than 24 hours. I honestly did not have the time to read this book. But nothing was going to stop me from reading this book. It has been a beautiful adventure. My heart is full. Thank you, Emily Skrutskie.

  18. 5 out of 5

    travis

    I'm not quite sure how to start this review. Bonds of Brass grabbed me by the throat and took me out at the knees and I've been obsessed with the characters since. Oaths of Legacy was a great follow up, but Vows of Empire... while I thought it was definitely good as well, and I thought it was a good and deserving send off for these characters, I found myself still feeling a bit wanting. It's hard to explain without spoiling it all, so (view spoiler)[Ultimately, despite the tension that weighed h I'm not quite sure how to start this review. Bonds of Brass grabbed me by the throat and took me out at the knees and I've been obsessed with the characters since. Oaths of Legacy was a great follow up, but Vows of Empire... while I thought it was definitely good as well, and I thought it was a good and deserving send off for these characters, I found myself still feeling a bit wanting. It's hard to explain without spoiling it all, so (view spoiler)[Ultimately, despite the tension that weighed heavy in the first two books, despite finally getting to see Gal's cutthroat mother in action finally, the stakes just weren't there for me. We kept getting told how much hinged on them and all that, but from early on in the book we learn that there's contingencies and backup plans upon backup plans and that everything happens is actually happening because of the plan and there's no need to worry about it. Never once did I buy that any of these "deaths" were real. Iva emp-Umber was a great character and I enjoyed every scene she was in, and while she did do her best to be threatening, it ended up feeling just as toothless because I never felt Gal was in real danger the way he was in the first two books, and it would have been interesting to learn more about Iva and how she truly feels about her son. The way the book ends kind of left that up all in the air. Another thing was that what really sold the first book to me was Ettian and Gal's relationship, and while they had some good moments together in this book, they spend most of it apart, and I understand the reasons for that, but it's just kind of... I wanted more romance! We get told how much they love each other, how they can't envision a galaxy without the other, all that, but it's not shown so much. Instead we get a bunch of talk about military plans and tactics and strategies, and it's all Essential because it's part of one of the million plans to overthrow these empires. I got it, but it was a bit tiring when all I really wanted to see these boys actually fight for each other and their love. And back regarding the whole big plan: I do strain to suspend my disbelief with it, because I'm like, there's really no way that any of these adults caught on to ANY of it? They didn't suspect a thing? It all went off with nary a hitch? These characters must be the best actors of all time... and while the epilogue of Gal and Ettian was definitely sweet, I also wanted to see more of the fallout of their big plan. We spent so long seeing it slowly unfold and then finally learning about it, but we don't get to see what comes afterwards. Do Esperza and Ixal learn what really happened with Ettian? How does Iva react to her empire crumbling and the "death" of her only heir? Like if we're going to see all these strategies, it would be nice to at least see what happened afterwards. But I digress. I thought the characters were great as usual, I really liked the prose even if sometimes it didn't quite match what was happening, and above all, despite my big rant, I actually am satisfied with this ending for Gal and Ettian and think it's much better than them becoming emperors and marrying and continuing on the whole bloodright thing, I just wish we got more of them. More romance, more tension, more actual stakes. I think the series was sort of chasing the high of the surprise ending of that first book (which indeed left me gagged and bald), but never quite reached that again. Nevertheless, I still loved the journey and loved the characters, and am ultimately happy with how it all turned out. (hide spoiler)]

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joyly Stevens

    To quote a sassy prince, "rut me sideways". I just finished this rollercoaster of a book and my mind has been blown to the outskirts of the galaxy so here goes my best attempt at a coherent review for Vows of Empire, the epic finale in The Bloodright Trilogy. We start in medias res, straight back to the action where Oaths of Legacies ended. Whereas book two has a slower start, Vows of Empire did not waste time. It's nerve-wreckingly detailed action one moment, and impossible scheming the next. Wo To quote a sassy prince, "rut me sideways". I just finished this rollercoaster of a book and my mind has been blown to the outskirts of the galaxy so here goes my best attempt at a coherent review for Vows of Empire, the epic finale in The Bloodright Trilogy. We start in medias res, straight back to the action where Oaths of Legacies ended. Whereas book two has a slower start, Vows of Empire did not waste time. It's nerve-wreckingly detailed action one moment, and impossible scheming the next. Worst of all is, you're never fully in the loop (because, of course, where would be the fun in that) I can here Wen and Hanji cackling from systems away. So it should not come as a surprise that this lack of you being in the loop causes buckets and buckets of cold-sweated stress to poor over you (it's the 2014 ice bucket challenge all over again). And of course, Emily Skrutskie had me with each plot twist. The number of times I yelled, “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK” is, in hindsight, slightly embarrassing because I realize that I am a gullible fool and believe everything I read while I'm well aware that I should know better. I wanted to throw my phone across the room so many times but I’m a poor student so I had to refrain from doing so and instead opt for screaming with my fist in my mouth because WOW this book was one hell of a banger. The scheming. THE SCHEMING!!! I cannot. I'm actually out of breath after speed-reading the ending of this book and I feel like I've been punched in the gut one too many times. There is so much going on both inside and outside the jurisdiction of your loop that you just do not know who you can completely trust. There's betrayal after betrayal and you sit there with a gaping mouth, hailing bugs home, wondering whether this betrayal was scripted or actually like "for realsies". And you pray to all the system gods that it was the former because Rutting Hell the latter will just crush your heart and soul (trust me, I speak from personal experience). Anyway, this book was absolutely fantastic. My favorite of the trilogy for sure! Can't recommend this gay space opera enough! It's got diversity on all levels and I am a Fan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nialla42

    I first started reading this series after seeing an online review referring to it as AU FinnPoe, and they’re not exactly wrong. The characters are strongly mapped on the characters from the Star Wars sequel trilogy, but the plot is a lot better, plus we get the boys in love in canon. There’s lots of scheming on a galactic scale, and even though you know something is going happen (several somethings, actually) the reader isn’t in the know about the plan until it’s done. There are hints so you can I first started reading this series after seeing an online review referring to it as AU FinnPoe, and they’re not exactly wrong. The characters are strongly mapped on the characters from the Star Wars sequel trilogy, but the plot is a lot better, plus we get the boys in love in canon. There’s lots of scheming on a galactic scale, and even though you know something is going happen (several somethings, actually) the reader isn’t in the know about the plan until it’s done. There are hints so you can piece together the outline of the Big Con, but not the details. So was a betrayal real, or part of the con? How about that one? Or that one? I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that I knew there was a Big Con in play, but even knowing what was likely to happen based on a previous event, I did have to pause my reading for a bit after one of those betrayal scenes. Not only was it painful to read, it basically meant one of the characters was sidelined for several chapters. Book one was from Ettian’s POV, book two was Gal’s, and there were a lot of Big Misunderstandings due to their lack of communication. In my review of book two, I said I wanted to see alternating POV’s from Gal and Ettian, and that’s pretty much what played out. I also wanted to see inside Wen’s head, and I got that too, though not exactly how I imagined. While I do love that The Bloodright Trilogy is exactly that, a trilogy, I do wish a little more explanation of what happens next had been delved into beyond an epilogue. The Umber Empire didn’t become a literal backstabbing mess overnight, and even with the events in the book, I’m not sure how the cycle is broken. Even Archon’s more benevolent ideals were tainted by a Bloodright that nearly ended years ago, yet managed to carry on after a fashion. Perhaps future books in the universe are possible though with a different cast of characters to explore how the events of the trilogy played out for others. ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna Wegeng

    Where to even start? I’ve been an Advance Reviewer on all three books in this series, and I’m a little sad to see it end. Receiving the emails inviting me to review the new book has been one of the highlights of the past couple years. And, of course, reading the books. I was a little nervous starting Vows of Empire after being a little disappointed by Oaths of Legacy, but I was delighted to find that I didn’t have to be. Fun. This book brought back the element of fun that made me love the first Where to even start? I’ve been an Advance Reviewer on all three books in this series, and I’m a little sad to see it end. Receiving the emails inviting me to review the new book has been one of the highlights of the past couple years. And, of course, reading the books. I was a little nervous starting Vows of Empire after being a little disappointed by Oaths of Legacy, but I was delighted to find that I didn’t have to be. Fun. This book brought back the element of fun that made me love the first book so much and I felt was lost in book 2. It didn’t have the same “Wild Ride” feel as the first book, but it didn’t have to. I mostly have the Wraiths to thank for this. If Skrutskie is known for anything as a writer, it’s plot twists, hiding things from the reader, and dramatic reveals. All of which were used in this book to the extreme. At one particularly memorable moment, I literally said out loud “Wait, what?” Though, if I have to be a little honest, it started to get annoying by the end. Yes, I know there’s a secret grand plan that the characters all know and you don’t, and the characters all have to play their roles and that’s the plot of the book, but too much of this book was the characters looking the reader dead in the eye and saying “you’re being lied to.” I loved seeing ruthless Wen. I’m almost sad that the real ruthless things she does are an act. Here is someone willing to do whatever it takes and has the brains to do some truly amazing things. Honestly, if the last two books were rewritten from Wen and Hanji’s POVs, I would be okay with that. In conclusion, I had a lot of fun reading this book and I am very excited to see what Skrutskie thinks up next.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    Overall, I thought Vows of Empire was a really good conclusion to this trilogy. I thought the switching between Gal and Ettian’s POV made it that much more enjoyable (and some POV chapters from Wen and Hanji!!). I found that this developed their relationship better than only getting one POV like in the other two books. The characters that stuck out to me the most were Wen and Gal. I loved getting to see Wen in a more political role and see how her mind works. There were some parts of the plot wh Overall, I thought Vows of Empire was a really good conclusion to this trilogy. I thought the switching between Gal and Ettian’s POV made it that much more enjoyable (and some POV chapters from Wen and Hanji!!). I found that this developed their relationship better than only getting one POV like in the other two books. The characters that stuck out to me the most were Wen and Gal. I loved getting to see Wen in a more political role and see how her mind works. There were some parts of the plot where I had to question whether that was truly something she would do, and it was cool because I really wasn’t sure! I really liked Oaths of Legacy because we were in Gal’s POV. In this book, we got to see him in his own court and interacting with his mother, which I found to be great parts. The interactions between Gal and Ettian were some of the best parts, along with the scheming of the trio and the wraiths. As for the plot of the story, I feel that I had a hard time with the way it was executed. As similar to the other two books, we as the reader are left in the dark on the major plot points. I felt that by the end of the story, I was wishing we as the readers had a bit more information before the big reveals, as it made the story confusing as it continued to grow in magnitude. For the actual plot points, it was a very interesting way to end the series. After it was revealed, I found I really enjoyed it. Although the book is only 288 pages, it feels a lot longer than that. I personally don’t enjoy heavy political intrigue, which may have resulted in the book’s pace feeling slow for me. I had a lot of fun reading this trilogy, and I think this last installment tied up the character’s arcs well with some great plotting! Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey for the arc!

  23. 4 out of 5

    emily

    i really wanted to love the final book in the bloodright trilogy as much as i loved the others, but it just didn’t do it for me! don’t get me wrong - there were many things i did love about this book. i enjoyed the romance we did get to see and i absolutely think gal and ettian’s ending was what was right for them, and was what i had hoped for them too! i appreciated that gal and ettian sorted out their miscommunication issues early on (and that wen was honest about her involvement) and thought i really wanted to love the final book in the bloodright trilogy as much as i loved the others, but it just didn’t do it for me! don’t get me wrong - there were many things i did love about this book. i enjoyed the romance we did get to see and i absolutely think gal and ettian’s ending was what was right for them, and was what i had hoped for them too! i appreciated that gal and ettian sorted out their miscommunication issues early on (and that wen was honest about her involvement) and thought the plan to bring the concept of bloodrights to an end was super clever - although i did guess the twists whereas i hadn’t done so in the other books! i’m unsure if that was to do with the storytelling though, or was just because i was hoping things would turn out the way they did. i think this book just missed the mark for me because the plan followed by gal, ettian, wen and the wraiths was so complex but rarely ever explained and so the plot was hard to follow for me. i know this is the point so that you’re constantly kept guessing, but at a certain stage such confusing narratives crossing over just meant i wasn’t enjoying the plot. i also think there wasn’t enough relationship content - i know the stakes were so high that there was little time for romance, but gal and ettian are the emotional heart of this story, and having them together so little (and rarely even talking about each other) took away a lot of the appeal of the story for me. overall a satisfying end for the plot and characters, but i am gonna need a novella with just pure fluff about ettian and gal post-canon!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    A satisfying conclusion to The Bloodright Trilogy. It’s the final adventure with Ettian, Gal, and Wen - and this time they have schemes on a galactic scale that will affect the course of the future for both empires. Vows of Empire was a quick read full of political scheming and military strategizing. I was engaged from the beginning, happily along for the ride. This third installment fixed some of the things I didn’t enjoy about book 2. Finally we have chapters written from both Gal and Ettian’s p A satisfying conclusion to The Bloodright Trilogy. It’s the final adventure with Ettian, Gal, and Wen - and this time they have schemes on a galactic scale that will affect the course of the future for both empires. Vows of Empire was a quick read full of political scheming and military strategizing. I was engaged from the beginning, happily along for the ride. This third installment fixed some of the things I didn’t enjoy about book 2. Finally we have chapters written from both Gal and Ettian’s perspectives letting us see what is happening in places across the galaxy from each other. We also have chapters from Wen’s perspective - Which means more of what I loved about book 2 - WEN. I’m not sure when Skrutskie decided to make Wen the star, but at some point she became one of the most fun and interesting characters in the whole trilogy. I love her and Ettian’s close relationship and the support they offer each other. I did find the epilogue unnecessary and anticlimatic. There were a lot of events that I wanted to be surprised by, but I wasn’t. It seemed predictable and expected. It would have been fun to have a bit more mystery around some the scheming for me as the reader. I felt like I actually knew too much. Overall, this series was a fun read! I plan to keep an eye out for more from this author. Thanks to NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    **I was provided an electronic ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.** Emily Skrutskie completes the Bloodright Trilogy with Vows of Empire. This book picks up shortly after the cliffhanger ending of book two, and any real discussion of the plot will undoubtedly spoil the first two books. Suffice it to say, the war is still on between Archon and Umber. I had suspicions of the way that the trilogy would conclude, and Skrutskie addressed one of those suspicions ear **I was provided an electronic ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.** Emily Skrutskie completes the Bloodright Trilogy with Vows of Empire. This book picks up shortly after the cliffhanger ending of book two, and any real discussion of the plot will undoubtedly spoil the first two books. Suffice it to say, the war is still on between Archon and Umber. I had suspicions of the way that the trilogy would conclude, and Skrutskie addressed one of those suspicions early on in this book. After that, it was clear there was only one way this series could actually end. Despite knowing the destination, that did not make the journey any less entertaining. The nature of the book's content kept Gal and Ettian apart for the vast majority, unfortunately. The nature of their relationship is such a focal point and strength of the series, but Vows of Empire was decidedly Wen's book. It was smart for Skrutskie to shift perspectives the way that she did throughout the book and to highlight the amount of growth all of the characters achieved over the course of this trilogy. Overall, I felt that this was a satisfactory conclusion to the series despite wanting more information about how things turned out. Certainly, there is room for Skrutskie to write prequels or sequels to the series, but the trilogy holds on its own. I look forward to future works from Skrutskie.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Malena Mendes

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I loved Ettian and Gal at first sight. Saying so, it’s hard to say goodbye to characters I hold so close to my heart. I loved the writing in bonds of brass and the freak plot twist at the end. I loved oaths of legacy because we got to see Gal’s perspective of the war, and him slowly learning that his empire is not what he was feed since childhood. OFL also give us a different view of Wen, her doubts and heart. Vows of empire would’ve been great if it was a movie. I kept finding myself lost becau I loved Ettian and Gal at first sight. Saying so, it’s hard to say goodbye to characters I hold so close to my heart. I loved the writing in bonds of brass and the freak plot twist at the end. I loved oaths of legacy because we got to see Gal’s perspective of the war, and him slowly learning that his empire is not what he was feed since childhood. OFL also give us a different view of Wen, her doubts and heart. Vows of empire would’ve been great if it was a movie. I kept finding myself lost because things were moving too fast without explanation. I found hard too believe in the ruthless of Gal’s mom, since we barely saw her in action. The warths, despite being incessantly mentioned in the previous books, had little to no voice even though they were crucial to the big con works out. It was like they showed up only to the havoc and them bye bye see you later. Wen and Hanji would’ve been a lovely duo if Skrutskie haven’t wait until the last second to recognize them as friends. Also, Esperanza and Iral, very complex characters were so shameless forgotten that I can’t barely comprehend. Despite it all, Ettian and Gal’s ending was something that I was happily satisfied. All they ever wanted as to be together with the curse of a empire above their heads and they got it! I just wish there weren’t so many holes and barely stand dialogues in their history. I was left with very little romance compared to bonds of brass.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Bellantine, and Emily Skrutskie for the opportunity to read Vows of Empire in exchange for an honest review.  This is the third and final book in The Bloodright Trilogy, preceded by Bonds of Brass (book one) and Oaths of Legacy (book two), and what a ride if has been! While this, like the second book, didn't quite have the same feel as when the adventure first started in book one, Vows of Empire was a thoroughly enjoyable read and everything Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Bellantine, and Emily Skrutskie for the opportunity to read Vows of Empire in exchange for an honest review.  This is the third and final book in The Bloodright Trilogy, preceded by Bonds of Brass (book one) and Oaths of Legacy (book two), and what a ride if has been! While this, like the second book, didn't quite have the same feel as when the adventure first started in book one, Vows of Empire was a thoroughly enjoyable read and everything it needed to be to conclude the series. Every aspect of this book is one ploy after another, and as the reader, you know it's just another trick...or is it? While relatively predictable, Skrutskie still had me guessing here and there. It was fun to see what crazy plan the characters would come up with next. Wen, Gal, and Ettian are a science fiction trio to go down in the books. They will be with me forever. The Bloodright trilogy is great for lovers of Star Wars and readers seeking LGBTQ representation and creative, dynamic characters. Not only is this trilogy worth the time to read, but it is one of those legendary series that is worth a reread. Again. And again. Thank you Miss Skrutskie for this amazing adventure, and I look forward to meeting the new characters in your next one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    I've read ARCs of this whole trilogy, but oh my god, this one blew the others away. Thank you SO much to Del Rey for approving me to read this (and only seven hours after I requested too). First of all, let's talk about our amazing cast here. To recap, because of the different settings, Oaths didn't mention a lot of characters from the beginning of Bonds, but they're awesome characters. Vows combines the casts of both to have almost all of the past characters, but not in a confusing way at all. I I've read ARCs of this whole trilogy, but oh my god, this one blew the others away. Thank you SO much to Del Rey for approving me to read this (and only seven hours after I requested too). First of all, let's talk about our amazing cast here. To recap, because of the different settings, Oaths didn't mention a lot of characters from the beginning of Bonds, but they're awesome characters. Vows combines the casts of both to have almost all of the past characters, but not in a confusing way at all. I absolutely loved having Ollins, Rhodes, Hanji, and Rin in addition to the Archon rebel characters. It's also so clear in these books as a whole that Skrutskie knows how these characters are built. Throughout Oaths, there was a TREMENDOUS amount of growth, especially since new sides were revealed of Ettian and Gal, and Vows made sure that we didn't forget just how cunning they both were. We also have the academy squad (favorites <3) and Wen, all of which totally shine throughout the book. How in character our cast was also had a crucial influence on the relationships between everyone. There were times where I was totally blindsided and thought the actions of some were impossible, but when I thought about it, it made so much sense. Although the romantic relationship between Gal and Ettian takes center stage compared to the other relationships, I love seeing how they both interact with Wen and their other friends. I would say the character work was better than the relationships themselves, but oh my god, it was all so amazing. WHEN I TELL YOU THIS BOOK WAS UNPREDICTABLE. Oh, boy. During the other two books, although I didn't get the main plot twists, I'd like to say that I knew the potential for each outcome. Vows was completely different in that sense. Because Ettian and Gal were trying to dupe empresses and entire empires, there was a lot that the reader wouldn't know, but again, Skrutskie makes it make so much sense in the long run. You that whole heist movie thing where if a scheme works, they don't tell you how it's supposed to go, and if it won't work, they give you a play by play so that you know exactly what's going wrong? Yeah, Vows is so unpredictable (in a good way) that nothing like that could help you here. This book showcases the intelligence of the main characters and the lengths they'll go to SO WELL. I could not recommend this book enough if you love this series. It had me on the edge of my seat the entire time in the best way possible. I read it a couple weeks ago, so I'm not entirely sure, but I probably cried. We even had an "in THIS economy?" joke. Vows is the perfect finale to a series I've been reading for two years ever since Bonds became my second ARC ever and I couldn't be happier with the final Bloodright Trilogy book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachelle

    The final book in The Bloodright Trilogy is here, and Gal and Ettian are back and trying to stop all the chaos the world has left them with. Gal is trapped with his empress mother and her evil rule, while Ettian is trying to play the game of thrones when he only took up the leader mantle to save his friend's life. It's all a giant mess, and somehow they have to fix a whole galaxy in only 288 pages. So Vows of Empire jumps a little in time from where the events of the second book, Oaths of Legacy, The final book in The Bloodright Trilogy is here, and Gal and Ettian are back and trying to stop all the chaos the world has left them with. Gal is trapped with his empress mother and her evil rule, while Ettian is trying to play the game of thrones when he only took up the leader mantle to save his friend's life. It's all a giant mess, and somehow they have to fix a whole galaxy in only 288 pages. So Vows of Empire jumps a little in time from where the events of the second book, Oaths of Legacy, left off. But it's not a large time jump. The book starts out with Gal and Ettian on separate sides of an ongoing war and it follows them throughout their political decisions to find their way back to each other. However, here's the thing, the plot at the end was obviously fake. It was told to us beforehand that certain events weren't real, so I'm a little confused as to why the author decided to lean into that storyline like we didn't know what was going on. It was frustrating. Now, for those of you who haven't read this book, you'll have no clue what I'm talking about. Basically, all you need to know is that Gal and Ettian come up with a plan to "win the war" and, as the reader, you know the broad strokes of what that plan is as it plays out. Yet the author acts like we, as the reader, have no idea what's happening. It's an odd writing choice. And while the first half of this book was a solid four stars, I just didn't enjoy the rest, which is sad, considering this was one of my most anticipated books of 2022. Unfortunately, everything was just too obvious and that obviousness made it seem like the adults were completely incompetent. Plus, I found the overabundance of battle strategy explanations tedious. I wanted more interactions between the main characters instead. I'm primarily a character reader. Without good characters, I can't enjoy a book, even if the plot is amazing, and especially if it's so heavy on the politics that the character dynamics are kind of left to the wayside. Now, if you like a ton of political sci-fi elements, this will definitely be the series for you; though, I will say that the first book didn't start out that way at all. It was more of a fun action/adventure romp. Sadly, towards the end of the book, I also didn't enjoy the characters as much. This includes Gal, Ettian, and Wen. All of them made weird decisions. I'm not sure if it was the situation they were in or if they themselves changed between books two and three, but I simply didn't like them in this final story. Maybe it's because they couldn't get into hijinks together as a fun trio since they were all apart for a large portion of the book... Or maybe its because I hated the plan they came up with in general and no one really stepped up like I had hoped for. What I think I'm getting at is I wanted more time with the three main characters together to solve a problem, and things didn't go down that way. Now, despite my complaints, I will say the last two chapters of the book were good. They ended how I predicted they would based on the big plan Ettian and Gal set up. But the predictability didn't hurt the story, as it finally got back to Ettian and Gal, not just endless battle tactic discussions and political maneuvering. While sometimes I do like political-esque books, for this series, I had grown attached to the main characters, so it was super disappointing not to have time with them together as a unit like books one and two. All in all, Vows of Empire was a book with an eh end. A lot of questions about the state of the galaxy are still up in the air, and the book doesn't have a very climactic finale. But there's a kind of happily-ever-after, which makes it an okay ending in my mind. 3 stars *Note: I received a NetGalley ARC of this book to review from the publisher. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Lew

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an arc copy of this book. The first two books in this series were just okay to me but, this one absolutely blew me away. I finally got both perspectives in one book instead of them being separate and I think that character development was done much better as well. The plot was executed so well, the number of times that I was screaming or gasping in disbelief is just too many to count. I also like that we got a better look at some of the other Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an arc copy of this book. The first two books in this series were just okay to me but, this one absolutely blew me away. I finally got both perspectives in one book instead of them being separate and I think that character development was done much better as well. The plot was executed so well, the number of times that I was screaming or gasping in disbelief is just too many to count. I also like that we got a better look at some of the other characters, from previous books as well. I think that getting both perspectives in the same book made things make more sense than before and I like seeing how things played out at both times. The motives and feelings felt more organic and the way they reacted to the things around them made sense. The plot was better-paced in this book, but I do think the start was still slow and it took me a little to get into. The plot twists were played out very well and I just couldn’t see them coming yet, when looking back everything made sense. The ending was exactly what I wanted from this whole series and it made me very happy. I just would have liked to see what happened to the side characters that played a bigger role in the end.

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