Book Review: "Of Crowns and Legends" by Chelsea Banning
I began following Chelsea Banning on Instagram sometime in 2020 during an uptick of the pandemic. She was writing Of Crowns and Legends then (this wasn’t the title yet), and I offered my editing services. Chelsea ended up going another direction, but we became friends, chatting back and forth, commenting on each other’s posts, etc.
Chelsea Banning released her book in August of 2022, and shortly thereafter had a book giveaway on Instagram. I won! The prize was an autographed copy of her book, and I was thrilled! After two years of reading excerpts in her Instagram posts, I’d soon be holding her book in my hands!
When I began reading Of Crowns and Legends in November 2022, I continually came back to it whenever my packed editing schedule allowed, and I finished it on March 8, 2023.
This Arthurian tale was a bit slow at first, but it’s because Chelsea Banning introduces her characters so well, providing background, personality, and motivations for Ariadne and Anwil, the twin children of Guinevere and Arthur Pendragon. For instance, we learn that Ariadne takes after her father and is training to become a knight of the Round Table. She isn’t interested in solely becoming a wife; instead, she trains every day with a skilled swordswoman named Brionna, whom Ariadne admires more than anyone else, aside from maybe her mother. And Ariadne’s mother supports her knightly endeavors.
Anwil, on the other hand, I can relate to a bit better—he’s a book nerd, not a fighter. Though, he beats himself up throughout the book about his inability and unwillingness to fight. We are who we are, and I’m sure his character will ultimately develop toward accepting himself for who he is. Considering what happens near the end of the book, though, it may take a while.
Lots of obstacles are thrown in his and his sister’s paths—ones that will either make or break them. My hope is for the former, but Chelsea Banning surprises readers at every turn, so you won’t get any educated guesses from me, except that Anwil may also learn to wield a sword expertly at some point.
Told in the third person, each chapter follows a main character until their stories collide near the end. With characters familiar and new, human and nonhuman, this Arthurian rebranding is one I’d like to see get picked up by a movie production company. Most Arthurian novels and movies do not have strong magical elements, so this is what made Of Crowns and Legends soar for me. I love a good fantasy novel, and this one has fae and druid characters, human and half-human magic wielders, and half-human and non-human healers. With magic commonplace in this novel, fans of Arthurian legend and lovers of fantasy will be delighted.
Sure, there are grammatical errors within the pages of Of Crowns and Legends, but when you’re a debut author on a budget, there will be errors, and that’s okay. The ones I encountered didn’t detract from the superb storyline. At least, that’s how it was for me, and I am an editor who sniffs out errors like a police canine sniffs out contraband. Chelsea Banning’s novel is innovative and modern and has such inspired depth that it will suck readers in, and they won’t want to wait to continue on to the next page, the next chapter, and even the next book in the series. With so much at stake for the characters and the entire realm, I eagerly anticipate the release of the sequel to Of Crowns and Legends.
Three cheers for Of Crowns and Legends!
Chelsea Banning supports local businesses, and if you’d also like to, you can purchase your copy from Bookshop.org. Her debut novel is also available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
Erika M. Weinert is a line and copy editor of fiction and the author of Cursing with Style: A Dicktionary of Expletives. She lives in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and is an active member of the Northwest Editors Guild—a regional, industry-specific association of editors. She mentors fledgling editors through the guild and on her own. When she’s not providing remote literary editing services to her clients and mentoring, Erika can be found at home with her patient and supportive husband and their brave and artistic daughter, whom they brought into the world the same year they were married—2008. Erika treasures her family—including their two cats—and her career above all else.