I just finished Gilded Serpent by Danielle L. Jensen and whew! What a doozy of a ride that was. It’s easily Jensen’s best book yet.
There are many starting points into this world like Dark Shores and Dark Skies, or even the prequel novella Tarnished Empire. But Gilded Serpent is not one of those points.
If you’ve yet to read anything in the Dark Shores world, stop, turn around, and go read one of the books above.
Even if novellas aren’t your thing, I HIGHLY recommend you check out Tarnished Empire before proceeding.
While Tarnished Empire is not necessary, it will make things a lot more interesting for you, I promise.
Gilded Serpent Review
Gilded Serpent picks up right where Dark Shores and Dark Skies left off.
At least I think so, it’s been a year since I read Dark Skies and two since I read Dark Shores. The details are a bit fuzzy.
If you didn’t know, Dark Shores and Dark Skies were essentially one novel broken into two parts, each featuring two POVs with two different sets of characters.
Gilded Serpent brings all four POVs together and is twice the length of either of the previous books.
This book is big. I mean massive big. And it’s totally worth every penny you’ll spend on it, I assure you.
Gilded Serpent Summary
Marcus and Teriana
Marcus is leading the Thirty Seventh and Forty First legions on an expedition to conquer the Dark Shores of the West. They’ve just come off a great victory deposing Urcon and reconquering the land for the locals, while bringing it under Cel rule.
Teriana, who has fallen in love with Marcus at this point, is conflicted with the need to prevent the invasion, but care for the very person who will ruin the lives of every citizen of the West.
Marcus is not without his own battles, though, as he seeks to be out from under Cel rule and hopes that the Empire will forget about them.
The only problem is Teriana’s people are being held captive as insurance that Marcus succeeds.
It’s a tight rope and to walk, and Marcus and Teriana’s story pivots around these two stressors the whole time.
Killian and Lydia
Lydia has been “captured” by King Serrick and “forced” into healing labor by Quindor. She is not a prisoner, and she wants to help, but at the same time, she cannot go with Killian as she wishes.
Killian, on the other hand, has taken his rightful place as Lord Calorian and commander of King Serrick’s armies. Serrick sends Killian to protect the borders far away from Lydia and the capital city, Mudaire.
You won’t see a whole lot of Killian earlier in the book, but the latter half more than makes up for it.
Lydia, who is supposed to be safe, soon finds herself in hot water and will eventually meet up with Killian for an adventure of their own.
As with Dark Skies, Killian is conflicted because of his oaths to his kingdom that inevitably wars against his love for Lydia. This is made worse about 40% of the way through when a certain revelation ruins any shot Killian has at love.
But don’t despair. Just you wait until Chapter 86.
Danielle L. Jensen is a masterful author and the twists in Gilded Serpent are pure gold.
What I loved
Where to start?
Marcus. Teriana. Teriana. Marcus.
I forgot all about you since it’s been two years, and I’m glad I found you again. The dynamic between these two is wonderful. Some of the most touching and powerful moments in Gilded Serpent happen in their storyline.
Unfortunately, the book ends with Teriana still having no clue that Lydia is alive, meaning they don’t meet up. But I’m hopeful for that encounter in Book 4. Maybe?
What else? Agrippa!
Agrippa was introduced in Tarnished Empire, and while he feels a little different here than he did there, the events in Tarnished Empire took place 4 years earlier, and Agrippa finds himself needing to adapt to the local landscape.
It’s hardened him a bit, but I still believe he has a good heart and can’t wait to see how he develops in the next book.
I’ve been and still remain Team Killian all the way.
He’s my favorite, and while he’s noticeably darker emotionally in Gilded Serpent, it’s not without cause. Some of the greatest fight scenes, plot twists, and story development happens in Killian’s and Lydia’s POVs.
And one of those moments will make your heart do somersaults.
What I didn’t like
“Wait, you forgot to fill out the section about what you didn’t like.”
What’s not to like? Gilded Serpent is a pleasure from start to finish and I’m dying for Book 4 already. It’ll be a long wait for sure, but I’m positive it will be worth every minute.
Gilded Serpent is an easy 5/5 stars for me.
Looking for more great books?
Check out my review of From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout.