The Two-Faced Queen (The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings, #2) By Nick Martell


Synopsis: This is the second novel of Nick Martell’s Legend of the Mercenary Kings series, sequel to last year’s The Kingdom of Liars. Main protagonist Michael Kingman escaped his death once more under the protection of the Orbis Mercenary company.

Inside Michael’s beloved city Hollows the two siblings Queen-in-Waiting Serena and her brother the Corrupt Prince long for the throne. Serena seeks revenge, because she doesn’t believe in Michael’s tale that her father, the former king, committed suicide.

Outside the city, the rebellion under the Emperor is still waiting to assault the city.

Michael has to follow Orbis mercenary Dark’s command as his apprentice and solve numerous riddles and most importantly: catch a serial killer Heartbreaker, who tears out his victims’ hearts, and also win back Serena’s trust and love.

He tries to figure out the inner workings of Orbis company, because he wants to advance as a fully accepted member and get free of Dark’s harassments.

Walking among Immortals and dragons, fighting against unknown types of magic, he can only trust in his family. Now, can he?

Review: I struggled to find back into the setting, because I didn’t remember all the names, abilities, and numerous relations exposed in the first volume. Yes, it is a highly complicated, tangled mess of a novel which asks for a lot of concentration.

This hurdle lasted for the whole first half of the novel before I was fully able to enjoy the ride and the plot picked up speed, action, and energy. It developed into a fast-paced, witty fantasy thriller featuring a highly capable foe who set up a kind of tournament for his victims, just for entertainment.

Lots of characters from the first novel got more attention and details, especially Dark, that uber mercenary, losing layer after layer like an onion. But even at his core, he is always able to come up with an unexpected twist for naive Michael. Michael matured only a tiny bit:

“Yeah, well, we can’t all be the perfect Michael Kingboy can we?”
“Kingman,” I said. “My last name is Kingman.”
“Then why do you act like a child? Kingboy makes more sense.”

This sequel finishes the setting of the city Hollow and opens up the world for the next volume. I’m very looking forward seeing this, hopefully next year.

Recommende for advanced readers of Epic Fantasy. Nick Martell هووز نمیدونم با این جلد جلد چند چندم، قلبمو تیکه تیکه کرد 😔 Nick Martell I think Nick Martell painted himself into a corner with this book. There were certain things that absolutely needed to happen, but they couldn't happen until the final act. Since the setup was largely done in the first book, the first half of this book doesn't have the tension that it should have, and thus is more boring than it deserves to be. The second half of this book is substantially better, and saves the book from a negative rating.

Part of the problem with this book is its central plot. It really is not properly introduced until midway through the book. The set up from the last book, Michael needing to prove his innocence, is there, but its not a plot point, but rather an unfortunate reality of his character. The real plot, featuring the Heartbreaker Serial Killer, is not introduced until much later. The stories in the book properly converge in the end, and it was quite enjoyable at least.

Another problem with this book is the secondary characters. While I remembered the primary characters of Michael, Serena, Lyon, Gwen, Angelo, and Dark, I did not remember any of Michael's friends from the first book. There were many characters whom I was supposed to remember that I flat out didn't. Part of the problem is that it has been a full year since I read the first book, but I still should have remembered them or it should have come back to me.

This criticism ties into another I had, which was that there are times in the book where a rehash of what had happened in the last book would have been nice, but just was not present. I think Martell was naturally hesitant to re-explain things from the previous book (ala Robert Jordan), because the Fantasy Fan community has complained about that. However, it would have done marvels if present here.

I really did enjoy the second half of this book, which was a mix of a monster-hunter narrative and an action-mystery. The action here is fast paced and the mystery keeps getting better and better. There are shocking moments and twists that I didn't see coming, and Martell does a good job of keeping the reader guessing throughout.

This definitely sets up a third book, and I am intrigued to read it, but since this book was weaker than the original, I am not entirely sure whether I will attempt to read on release day or not.

Small note, I again did not appreciate the language in this book. It is almost entirely from the main character, and the book did not need it. He could have taken out the language and it would have not only read more smoothly, but would have been more accessible to a wider audience.

Overall, I think this is a good book with an incredibly solid second half. However, the first half does drag it down significantly, probably resulting in many readers DNF-ing the book. I would give this book a 6.5 out of 10! Martell has some real talent, but he isn't quite there yet. Nick Martell The Two-Faced Queen is Nick Martell's exhilarating sequel to his debut The Kingdom of Liars.

I must say when I read The Kingdom of Liars, I was pretty impressed. Nick Martell did a fantastic job, writing an intriguing and well-paced plot. He introduced characters that are engaging if sometimes a little annoying, and endearing. There was intricate world-building and a complex magic system.

So, when I saw that the story of The Two-Faced Queen continued in the city of Hollow, I was wondering how Nick Martell was going to expand on something that he had done a pretty good job of building in the first place.

Well, he showed me, didn't he? It turns out that Nick Martell had a whole lot more up his sleeve and The Kingdom of Liars was just the tip of the iceberg.

The story takes place shortly after the events of the Kingdom of Liars and we find him indentured to Dark, the Orbis Corporation Assassin. His mother is no longer a Forgotten and the family are now living in Kingman Keep.

Outside the walls, the rebellion is still encamped slowly strangling the city of Hollow. In addition to this, refugees are flooding into Hollow, making a bad situation worse.

As part of his apprenticeship with Dark, they are tasked to find out where the refugees are from and who leads them.

This sets off a series of events. Firstly, a series of horrific murders lead to the return of a serial killer that has lain dormant for a number of years. The city of Hollow is now in the hands of Serena, The two-faced Queen of the title, who just happens to be Michael's childhood best friend and has set out to kill him because she thinks he killed her father. Oh, on top of that he has to pass his apprentice assassins test.

Just another day at the Kingsman residence then!

Structurally, Nick Martell does not shift much from the first book. Michael is the main character. However, in this book, he is not as difficult to spend time with, and Nick Martell does a nice job of retconning book 1, which gives a different perspective of Michael’s behaviour in Kingdom of Liars. Additionally, Michael grows in this book, which I liked a lot. I think the skill that Nick Martell shows in growing his characters organically is clearly evident. Michael seems more like a real person. Yes, he does make mistakes, and at times he does not see the bigger picture, but we see him learning from his mistakes.

Unfortunately, some of the characters that we spent time in book 1 with, such as Kai do not get as much page time as the previous book, but I found that the relationship that grows between Michael and Dark is quite a fascinating one, and made up for the absence of the other characters.

Naomi is a lot more prominent in the Kingdom of Liars, and we see the after-effects of the incident that involved the Crooked Prince. We learn that as well as losing her job, it is also causing her pain to the extent that she has to seek other means in order to control this.

However, a number of the characters get their time in the spotlight. For one the Two-faced queen herself, Serena, who deluded by her grief, relentlessly chases Michael. Symon, the King of Stories, who I have to say I found quite interesting and wished we could have spent some more time with him, although he gets two interludes in the book in order to change the focus from Michael. Most interestingly, however, is Gwen. I have always found Gwen to be a character that I wanted to spend more time with, and in this book, we get to do that.

The plot of the book runs at full pace, yes there are some lulls in it, but generally, Nick Martell creates a sense of urgency as the book comes to its conclusion. One of the things that I really like about Nick Martell’s writing is that he successfully weaves cross-genre plots. In one instance there is the serial killer plot and the race against time to find the killer before they strike again, interweaved with a solid fantasy book of rebellion and unrest.

On top of this, Nick Martell massively increases the world that the characters inhabit. We get more about the magic system and the lore too. And as we spend time with Dark and Michael, we get more information about the Assassins company and get to meet the crew.

In the Two-Faced Queen, Nick Martell successfully weaves a thrilling plot, expansive world-building with fantastic characters in a book that you won’t want to put down. Nick Martell IMMORTALS, ASSASSINS, & REBELS, O MY!

Sadly, one big question always looms in the back of my mind when I pick up the second book in a series, I wish it didn't because I'm so scared it'll color my expectations, and that question is:


If you prefer video reviews, I do have one on my YouTube channel, The Nerdy Narrative, and this review can be found here:

Part of the fear is due to my love for the first book in the series. I generally don't continue a series unless I loved the first book - so I reckon that's understandable. In this case, the first book was Nick Martell's debut novel, so the follow up question is, was the first book beginner's luck?

Oh my dear reading friends, in my opinion, THE TWO-FACED QUEENleveled up from the first book - I had thought Nick Martell introduced so much in the first one, that we'd just continue some of the plotlines and go from there. Well, we did, but oh my goodness, there was so much more! I read the first 40% in the first day and after reading the last couple lines of the last chapter, I have never been so glad to have the next and final book in this trilogy sitting right next to me to immediately start.

I've never been worthy of anything...but to be born great is kind of boring, isn't it? I'd rather claw my way to the top with trails of blood marking my defiance than follow the path fate dictates for me.

Michael Kingman was almost executed for attempting to clear his family's name in order to end the rebellion. Now that the dust is settling, he's not sure execution would have been so bad since he's now bound to the mercenary Dark as his apprentice. Michael must obey the order of the mercenary and the company who saved him from being executed, but the unrest in Hollow has it on the brink of civil war: the death of the King has the Corrupt Prince and his sister Serena competing for the throne, the Rebel Emperor is sowing lies and discontent among the people of Hollow - but the one thing ALL of them have in common? They want Michael Kingman dead.

What can one expect in this installment of the series? The rebel army prepares its attack, our characters we love and those we loved to hate are back with more of their usual antics and trouble - plus a few new ones! Martell's character work in this novel had me in tears a few times - once I cried, not because of what happened to particular character, but the depth of emotion Martell wrote about another character reacting what happened.

In addition to new characters, we also have a serial killer on the loose - one that has terrorized Hollow previously, but was never caught. I love serial killer stories - I wasn't expecting such a good one to be in a fantasy story! I would dearly love to go into more detail about this aspect, but all the things I would say would absolutely be huge spoilers.

The magic system, as I suspected when I finished the first book, did get expanded upon. Michael encountered magic users from other countries, their abilities and aspects - and the costs those users paid were different, which I found so intriguing - especially because I bet this will continue to be a learning process in the finale of the series. (I am so sad this is only a trilogy, I already know I will want more!) By exposing us to more magic users, Martell also teaches us a bit more about the surrounding countries/territories, building out this world a touch more.

That's all I have time to scratch out, friends. I have the final book in the series sitting here at my elbow and I have got to see what happens next! Nick Martell

Review ☆ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook Ò Nick Martell

The Hollows is gripped in unrest and on the brink of civil war as an insurgency of anarchists rise, and brother and sister vie for the throne in the second novel in the critically hailed Legacy of the Mercenary King series which Brandon Sanderson called “excellent.”

Michael Kingman thought he was going to die by the executioner’s axe, forever labeled 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, you will find your next must-read fantasy series. The Two-Faced Queen (The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings, #2)

Not up there with Kingdom of Liars, but still good!

It takes some while getting into and it has too much going which makes it slightly messy.

But now that I'm done with the reread I can finally dive into Voyage of the Forgotten! Nick Martell Well, with its release date only a little more than three months away, I guess I should talk about book 2 of the Legacy of the Mercenary King series. Statistically, The Two-Faced Queen comes in about 30k—for a total of 180k—words longer than the Kingdom of Liars. In a lot of ways, this book was easier to write than the Kingdom of Liars. Which is wild considering I wrote it in about a little less than a year throughout 2018/2019. I think most authors talk about second book syndrome that I don’t need to go over it. I was lucky enough to escape it by writing this book before my first was out. The only voices in my head were my agent and editors, and that has made all the difference.

I’m incredibly proud of this book. I think more so than the Kingdom of Liars. This is the book of my heart and probably a good indication of what I’ll do for the rest of my career. Maybe not now that I’m thinking of the standalone I’ve been itching to write in my free time. Anyway. Rather than set things up, I pretty much spent most of the book knocking down pins. I also think I learned a lot from my debut and took everything up to it’s max. More magic. More consequences. And more wham moments. If you thought that scene was fun in the first, just wait to you see some of the ones in this book.

There’s nothing I can really say about this book that’s not a spoiler. I can’t talk about the magic and what the readers will learn about it. I can’t talk about Michael and his growth from a child with delusions of grandeur into something truly infamous or his relationship with the extended cast. And I definitely can’t talk about Dark and what’s going on with him. But, regardless, I hope readers enjoy this novel and the continuing evolution of the cast of characters. There are no heroes or prodigies or chosen ones or those compelled to act because of destiny in this book. Just young adults struggling to find their place in a messed up world.

But, if I can give one bit of advice, remember Michael Kingman’s story is a tragedy. He was never going to be the one who saved the world, but maybe he can be the one to break it. After all, what is a legacy if not an inheritance?

Onward to book 3.


Less than 6 months remain.

Two truths and a lie:

The Princess of Hollow is a new POV
The Princess of Hollow shows up 5 times in book 1
The Princess of Hollow goes on a revenge tour Nick Martell The Two-Faced Queen is the sophomore volume of the series, a fantasy series featuring a lead character whose legacy was loyalty to the Crown, but who has now been branded a traitor. Fabrications are the magical powers here, but their use leaves one with memory gaps. Perhaps a far more succinct novel would have focused better. This one lacked a focus and the characters lacked believability. Nick Martell I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here:

ARC provided by the publisher—Saga Press & Gollancz—in exchange for an honest review.

3.5/5 stars

Overall, The Two-Faced Queen a good sequel. Similar to its predecessor, the first half was a bit of a struggle for me, but the second half was great.

“To be forgotten feels more like death than death.”

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell was a debut that surprised me last year. If you’ve seen the reviews or receptions towards Martell’s debut, both positive and negative, I think I can assure you that the majority of them are valid. Personally, I found Martell’s debut thoroughly engaging, but I did find that the deliberately written-to-be-infuriating main character in the first half to be difficult to tolerate. The second half of the novel, however, was incredible. Now, what do I think about this sequel? It’s more or less the same as my overall feeling on the first book, with a few differences here and there.

“Some childhood traumas were like sunburns, other like broken bones, the most extreme like scars—faded but not forgotten.”

The Two-Faced Queen is the sequel The Kingdom of Liars, it is the second book in The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings series by Nick Martell. Although the story does takes place after The Kingdom of Liars, there’s a kind of standalone nature to the narrative that I think people who haven’t read the first book could actually understand what’s going on. Similar and at the same time different to my experience of reading The Kingdom of Liars, I did find the first half of The Two-Faced Queen to be a struggle to read. But this wasn’t caused by Michael Kingman’s annoying attitude; Michael has improved and matured a bit—note the word a bit—here. From my perspective, it felt like the plot was directionless, and to be honest, quite all over the place in the first half; some scenes and events, to me, actually felt like fillers. Sometimes, we can gauge how much we enjoy reading a book by how fast we’re able to finish it; it took me four days to read through the first half of the book, and it took me only one day to read through the second half. Now you see what I mean? In a similar way to Martell’s debut, the second half of The Two-Faced Queen provided a far more engaging narrative compared to the first half, and I won’t lie, it was even quite emotional at the end.

“Yeah, well, we can’t all be the perfect Michael Kingboy can we?”
“Kingman,” I said. “My last name is Kingman.”
“Then why do you act like a child? Kingboy makes more sense.”

There are, of course, more positive things to take from this sequel. One, after the events of the first book, Michael Kingman is more tolerable now as the main character; he’s still stupid, at times, but he has certainly matured a bit. I did, however, want more of Serena, though. I honestly thought she would have more appearances or roles in this book, but the majority of the book still revolves mainly around Michael. The second positive thing is the expansion of the world-building. I honestly thought The Kingdom of Liars would’ve worked well as a satisfying one-off standalone, and as it turns out, it seems that Martell truly still has several things in store for the series. The topics of legacies and families are still the most pivotal themes of the series; I highly enjoyed reading about them, and Martell’s prose continues to be accessible and engaging.

“I think, if possible, we deserve to hear about our parents’ flaws from themselves so they can teach us to be better than they were.”

Although there’s a bit of a middle book syndrome to it, I’ll say that I had a good time reading this sequel. The last 20% of the book, in particular, was just incredible. There are revelations, there are tensions, there are emotions; Martell has satisfyingly concluded The Two-Faced Queen by setting the stage nicely for the big showdown to come in the third—and I think the final—book of the series. I’m looking forward to finding out how the story ends.

Official release date: 25th March 2021 (UK) and 23rd March 2021 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

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Nick Martell 4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Wow, so that all just happened! Last year, Nick Martell’s The Kingdom of Liars surprised me, and now its follow-up The Two-Faced Queen has done it again, in the best way possible. Few things please me more as a reader than to have a sequel not only live up to its predecessor but also surpass it, and this is what we have here.

The story picks up soon after the events of The Kingdom of Liars, and be advised this review may discuss plot details from the previous book if you haven’t read it yet. Our protagonist Michael Kingman, accused of killing the king, had thought he would be facing execution but instead finds himself apprenticed to Dark, an assassin of the Orbis Corporation. But while this may have earned him a momentary reprieve, Michael isn’t out of the woods yet. A whole slew of people in the kingdom still wants him dead, and some of them sit in pretty high places, including Serena, known as the Two-Faced Queen. She and Michael used to be childhood friends, but all that ended after he was implicated in the death of her father. Now she only has room in her heart for revenge and will hear none of Michael’s claims of innocence.

As Serena and her brother are locked in a power struggle for the throne, however, the Rebel Emperor has been taking advantage of this unrest to sow even more chaos around the Hollow. In his work with Dark, Michael has been tasked to investigate some of the mayhem caused by the rebellion’s siege on the city, leading them onto the trail of a brutal serial killer known as Heartbreaker because of the way he rips the hearts out of his victims’ chests.

Ah, and the plot thickens! I will confess, one surefire way to hook me into a story is to throw in a murder mystery. Generally speaking, that kind of thing usually leads to increased interest, which is exactly what happened as the more intense pacing and elevated suspense meant I was all in on this hunt for the killer. This was also an improvement over the first book which was marred in places by prolonged lulls and confused, meandering threads. On the whole, this aspect of The Two-Faced Queen seemed more focused and balanced, the story racing along at a more energetic pace, not to mention all the unexpected reveals and surprises along the way! Now, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say this: Dragons!

The characterization was also much improved. Recall how in The Kingdom of Liars, my impression of Michael was that he was a frustrating and impulsive protagonist, and I hated the way he was constantly being manipulated. While some of this could have been explained by the memory-degrading effects of doing magic in this world, it was undeniable that much of his irresponsible behavior was also driven by his own stupidity. Well, you’ll be glad to hear that Michael’s personality has matured somewhat in this sequel. He still has his flaws, of course, but he has also learned to recognize his weaknesses (plus, it helped that this book provided a new perspective, putting some of Michael’s actions and motivations from the first book in a whole new light).

As well, I am practically squirming with excitement over the more developed relationships. I’m especially interested in what’s happening between Michael and Serena and the direction things are headed with them, as in many ways they remind me of Imriel and Sidonie from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Legacy (and those who’ve read the series will probably know why my eyes are completely glued on these two!)

Then there’s the writing, and Nick Martell is doing extremely well in perfecting his craft. His prose has definitely smoothed out, and I feel there’s less of a reliance on overused tropes. However, the world-building still feels a bit sparse, and it may be just a matter of knowing how and when to flesh things out. Occasionally, I still had trouble visualizing the environment, but I was not as distracted by it this time around, since the story kept me better engaged.

Anyway, I know I’ve already covered the many areas in which this book showed improvement over its predecessor, but there is still one final, very important measure I need to discuss, and that is my outlook for the future of this series. When I finished The Kingdom of Liars, I felt encouraged and cautiously optimistic for the sequel. When I finished The Two-Face Queen, however, it was with unadulterated, full-blown excitement for what’s going to come next! A lot happened in this book—some readers might even say too much—but the fuller, more riveting storyline was honestly quite enjoyable for me, and the last half was especially packed with intrigue and potential.

Overall, it would seem that my faith in the author was not misplaced. Nick Martell is well on his way to becoming a huge talent in the world of fantasy fiction. These first two volumes of The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings series have already made quite a splash with me, and things just keep looking better and better. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. Nick Martell