The Destiny of Ren Crown

Book Words Reading Pages Magic Fantasy Ren Crown Awakening Protection Rise Unleashing Destiny Anne Zoelle BooksThe Destiny of Ren Crown by Anne Zoelle is the long-awaited conclusion to the magical saga of Ren Crown and her cohorts. The stakes are even higher, now that Ren has fled Excelsine to avoid capture by the Department and Enton Stavros. Hiding out in the Third Layer, tensions run high as we get a glimpse into just how powerful Ren has become, and how big a toll that power is having on her. But with great power comes great responsibility, and Ren has never been one to back down from a challenge. As Stavros becomes more determined to capture Ren, she in turn becomes more determined to simultaneously avoid his traps and save the world—one feral awakening at a time.

The death of her brother still haunts her, and Ren is doing everything she can to prevent that from happening to another newly awakened feral mage. And since her own Origin magic is the root cause of the mass awakenings (but not through any of her direct actions), Ren feels even more responsible for the lives of the ferals. Traipsing about between the layers becomes riskier and riskier, and Ren finally realizes she needs to share the burden—with her best friends and the group of Bandits. The fact that her two closest companions—Constantine and Axer—happen to hate each other, only makes the adventures more interesting and, at times, more dangerous.

Don't underestimate the eagerness of men to serve power. And don't feel sorrow for those who choose that path.

Fighting against Stavros has become the foremost challenge, as he begins a reign of terror against not only Ren and her crew but the entire Second Layer. Ren, Constantine and Axer take it upon themselves, with the help of the rest of the Bandits and Combat Mages, to find a way to bring down Stavros for good. But Stavros is the Prestige for a reason, and his magic is unlike any they’ve seen before. Fortunately, Ren is a different breed of powerful, and with Constantine and Axer at her side, they are virtually unstoppable. Secrets are revealed, hidden locations uncovered, and unlikely alliances are formed as the team battles their way to stand against Stavros face to face.

We are human, with all the fierce love and destructive hate that comes with it.

Anne Zoelle seriously knows how to bring an incredible series to an even more incredible and heart-stopping conclusion. The Ren Crown series sucked me in immediately, from the first line of the first book, and the writing continues to draw me in each time I read the books again. Zoelle has taken the traditional coming-of-age story, mixed it up with a unique twist on magic, changed the structure of our world, built up relatable and loveable main and supporting characters, and finished it off with a deliciously evil villain. The build-up to the final novel was exquisite, and the conclusion has managed to tie together each thread from the previous novels in an exciting and unpredictable way. I have had some burning questions on how certain plotlines would conclude, and Zoelle did not disappoint at all.

Ren has always been a character of emotional turmoil, filled with angst and a desire to fix everyone’s problems—regardless of whether it is possible to fix them, she does her damnedest to try. In Destiny, Ren’s efforts increase a thousandfold and when faced with the literal end of the Second Layer, she ignores the odds stacked against her and sets out with the determination to change the world. Zoelle has made Ren a character desperate to succeed, yet painfully aware of her limitations—as much as she wishes she could overcome and surpass those limitations. Part of her determination stems from the absolute need to protect the people she cares about, often putting herself at risk in the process. And as the story unfolded, I found myself cheering Ren along, celebrating her wins and mourning her losses. And when it comes to her love life, at times I found myself wishing I could reach into the pages and slap her upside the head for being so oblivious to the actions of those around her.

I saw the phoenix dragon tattoo under his cuff, surrounded by a crown, a sword, and the elements of the universe.

Constantine and Axer continue to be two of Ren’s closest friends in Destiny, never leaving Ren’s side unless absolutely necessary—and only after much arguing and resistance. The entire series has shown an extreme level of animosity between Axer and Constantine—even though the two are roommates with highly sympathetic magic. The one thing they can agree on is their common goal of helping and protecting Ren, regardless of the unpleasant side effect of being in each other’s presence. That common goal and bitter rivalry come to a head in Destiny, and we finally, FINALLY, get the story of what happened between Constantine and Axer. I have to admit, I was taken by surprise with the story, yet as shocked as I was, everything worked. The situation made sense for the characters, and the choices that followed felt natural and not forced at all. And the final revelation from Constantine is…wow.

Zoelle also ties together many of the supporting characters, fleshing out their background stories beautifully, helping lend even more depth to each individual. No character feels superfluous, and every character evokes more emotion than I thought I was capable of feeling in a single novel. The Bandits are reliably witty and charming, with no lack of creativity with a healthy dose of devilry. The professors are interestingly absent for a majority of the book, but they have their moment in the spotlight in a surprising yet appropriate fashion. And as we learn more about the evil forces working against all the good guys, the more I found myself holding my breath and waiting for the inevitable.

I’m surprised we aren’t riding a…death pegasus, or something.

I did find myself a bit saddened by the numerous typos scattered throughout the text. For me, it always pulls away from the story when I find myself stumbling across a misspelled word or incorrectly placed punctuation—even if it’s just a missing comma. Fortunately, Zoelle’s writing is superb enough that I was able to quickly bounce back from the errors and continue to enjoy the writing. The editing team definitely failed Zoelle on this one, which is more a reflection on the publishing process than on Zoelle as an author.

The pacing of Destiny was a bit awkward for me at some points. The very first chapter, for example, hits the ground running and was filled with action and intensity. But it was almost too much action, leaving out some key information about the situation that isn’t explained until much later (the vomiting paint really threw me off). I felt lost multiple times throughout the book, as though I had missed an entire section or chapter. Turns out, the problem wasn’t me missing a chapter, but rather the chapter having pacing and structure disparities, jumping across ideas at a breakneck speed. At times, the story seemed very rushed, slamming action sequences and dialogue so quickly, it was a tad overwhelming. Other times, a chapter seemed to be too drawn out, filled with extra descriptions or narrative that were nice, but unnecessary. A LOT of things happen in Destiny and sometimes it was too much to absorb at one time and required the occasional return to a previous chapter or section to clarify a particular situation. I would not have minded at all if Destiny were a couple hundred pages longer, if only to help fill in some of the story gaps.

At the end of the day, The Destiny of Ren Crown is a show-stopper and a startlingly conclusion to the Ren Crown series. The action is intense and brutal, the moral dilemmas are poignant and heart-wrenching, the character interactions are honest and entertaining, and the writing is a masterpiece. If you haven’t read the finale, or even started with book one, this series will not disappoint. And even though Destiny is officially the final book, that won’t keep me from hoping we’ll see more of Ren, Constantine, Axer, Olivia and the others in the future. Hey, a girl can hope, right?

May magic be ever at your fingers.

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