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The Last Lion of Karkov Offers Family Melodrama on a Continental Scale

Twin princesses Jillian and Natalia­ decide their destinies—and the fate of nations—in Dale Griffin’s debut novel.


The brutal, patriarchal nation of Karkov is ruled by an aging warlord called the Old Lion. (The book begins: “You could liken him to a king, but which would you rather face in an open field: a lion or a king?”) Traditionally, the title of Lion is passed from father to son, but the Old Lion has only two daughters. 

Jillian is the eldest daughter, if only by a few minutes, which means she will one day inherit the title of ruler. She takes to her combat training like a fish to water, determined to prove herself to her father and the warriors of her kingdom. She hears how the men of her nation whisper behind her back—how they resent the idea of a female Lion. She also knows how they admire her rival, Odani, who is the son of Karkov’s acclaimed general.

Jillian chomps at the bit and tests her boundaries, eager to show her worth in battle. She rarely accepts “no” as an answer.

Her younger twin, Natalia, is unburdened with such expectations. While she partakes in the same training regiment as her sister, Natalia has little interest in becoming a warrior. She is content with the future laid out for her: To marry the handsome prince of neighboring nation Lucenze and fortify the relations between the two countries. 

When Karkov goes to war, however, both sisters must learn to adapt. Jillian begins to work with Odani for the betterment of her forces, while Natalia is thrust into an unexpected position of power. With the Old Lion and Jillian off to the campaign in a foreign country, Natalia must rule Karkov. 

The two begin to trade roles: Natalia establishes her position in court, and Jillian finds herself driven by love. This reversal allows each sister to make a series of discoveries about themselves and, more ominously, about their secret family history. When the world is turned on its head, Natalia and Jillian must find a way to defy the very man who raised them.

The Last Lion of Karkov offers family melodrama on a massive scale, the outcome of which can decide the fate of an entire continent. If you enjoy the scheming, twisted plotlines of A Game of Thrones and the tortured romances of Spinning Silver, this dark fantasy is a nonstop adventure with surprises every step of the way.