51 pages 1 hour read

Jennifer L. Armentrout

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2020

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Summary and Study Guide


A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire is a paranormal romantic fantasy novel for adults by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout. The second novel in Armentrout’s six-part Blood and Ash series, the book follows Penellaphe “Poppy” Balfour as she escapes her confinement as the Maiden, falls in love with her enemy Cas Da’Neer, and discovers her growing supernatural powers. The book was published in September 2020 to favorable reception, becoming a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling novel. Combining elements from the romance, supernatural, and fantasy genres, the novel explores important themes of love versus vengeance, balancing power with self-control, and the pitfalls of an elitist oligarchy.

Armentrout has written across genres, from adult fantasy to fantasy for young readers, sometimes under the penname J. Lyn. She has won numerous awards for her books, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, and the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award in Romance for From Blood and Ash, the first novel of the Blood and Ash series.

This guide uses the Blue Box Press 2020 paperback edition.

Plot Summary

Penellaphe “Poppy” Balfour is being taken to the land of Atlantia against her will by Prince Casteel “Cas” Da’Neer and his party. Poppy fell in love with Cas believing him to be the royal guard Hawke, but Cas is actually the Dark One, the son of the rulers of dreaded Atlantia. Poppy is from Solis, Atlantia’s enemy land. Kieran, Cas’s best friend and bonded wolven (a werewolf-like creature), guards Poppy at all times on their way to Atlantia, but Poppy repeatedly tries to escape.

Cas wants to marry Poppy on Atlantian soil. Poppy believes the only reason Cas wants to marry her is to offer her life to the King and Queen of Solis in exchange for Prince Malik, his beloved brother in their custody. Till very recently, Poppy was the Maiden, a young woman raised in isolation by the court of Solis, and believed to have special powers.

To keep up appearances before his people, Cas shares a room with Poppy at New Haven. Poppy’s anger toward Cas lessens when he reveals how the rulers of Solis tortured him when they kidnapped him and Malik. Cas assures Poppy that she can divorce him after Malik is returned. Poppy agrees to the marriage, if Cas will help her find Ian, her older brother also left behind in Solis. After Cas announces his engagement to Poppy, Alastir, one of Cas’s courtiers, tells Poppy she should not trust Cas, who mistreated his former fiancée. Meanwhile, Poppy’s powers are growing. Already an empath, someone who can feel and fix the pain of others, Poppy also now begins to emit energy. Cas believes Poppy may not be from Solis after all, but descended from an ancient Atlantian bloodline.

Guards and knights from the royal court of Solis led by Lord Chaney invade the keep at New Haven, demanding Poppy, the Maiden, be returned to them. Poppy agrees to go to Solis in return for the release of hostages. In the carriage to Solis, Lord Chaney attacks Poppy and feeds on her blood. Lord Chaney is an Ascended—vampire-like creatures revered in Solis. Poppy stabs Chaney and is rescued from the carriage by Cas.

On their way to their next stop, Spessa’s End, the party is attacked by the Dead Bones clan, a group of mortals who survive by hunting and eating those they see as a threat. Cas is shot by arrows, and Poppy kills a member of the clan in the attack. Poppy nurses Cas back to health. At Spessa’s End, Cas grows wildly disoriented because he has not fed on Atlantian blood for days. As he is engaged to Poppy, he can only partake in her blood, but refuses to do so as he does not want to harm her. Poppy asks Cas to partake of her blood, with Kieran around to safeguard her. Cas is restored after the process, known as a “joining.” Kieran tells Poppy that she and Cas may be soul mates.

Poppy heals a young wolven called Beckett, whose legs have been mangled in an accident. A crowd gathers to view the miracle. Most of them are afraid of Poppy’s abilities, especially her empath powers. Worried that Poppy is unsafe, Cas wants to marry her immediately, but Alastir opposes the wedding as Cas is already betrothed to Gianna, a wolven princess. Poppy declares her love for Cas publicly and says that though she was raised by the Ascended, she does not share their penchant for cruelty. Jasper, Kieran’s father and head of the wolven, supports Poppy.

Poppy and Cas learn that a large party of the Ascended will attack Spessa’s End. While Kieran gets reinforcements from Saion’s Cove, a city on the coast of Atlantia, Cas tells Poppy the truth about Shea, Alastir’s daughter and his former fiancée. Shea and Cas were seemingly in love, but she traded Malik and Cas to the Ascended to save herself. Cas killed her for the betrayal, but kept the truth a secret, letting the Atlantians believe she sacrificed herself to the Ascended. Reconciled, Cas and Poppy marry. The sky turns black at the wedding, a sign the union is favored by Nyktos, king of the gods. Cas and Poppy have sex.

The Ascended attack, led by Duchess Teerman. Poppy threatens to kill herself in order to stop the bloodshed. A large party of wolven comes to Poppy’s rescue, followed by the reinforcements brought by Kieran. Poppy gets inside the carriage of the fleeing duchess, learns that Malik and Ian may be alive, and slays the duchess. Cas tells Poppy the wolven came to her rescue as they felt her call to them telepathically. Poppy is unaware of making any such call.

Poppy’s powers continue to grow: She is saved from sleepwalking off a cliff by the goddess Aios. Poppy, Cas, and the others reach Saiko’s cave in Atlantia. While Cas is away to tell his parents about the marriage, Poppy is left alone in Nyktos’s Temple in front of a large, angry crowd of Atlantians. The people stone Poppy, calling her a Soul Eater sent by the Ascended to destroy them. The sky rains blood, which the crowd takes as an omen that they are fulfilling the decree of the gods. Poppy absorbs their hatred and rage and realizes she is telepathically connected to the people. As she begins to glow, the crowd realizes she is not an enemy. However, by then Poppy’s powers are out of her control and she redirects the people’s rage back onto them, killing them instantly.

Cas, Kieran, and his parents arrive at the cave, as do hundreds of wolven, summoned by Poppy’s extreme emotions. To Poppy’s surprise, Cas crosses his swords when he sees her glowing form and kneels to her. Queen Eloana, his mother, tells him that bringing Poppy to Atlantia is irreversible. She removes her crown, puts it on the floor, and asks everyone to bow to Poppy—the last Descendant of Nyktos, and the rightful Queen to Atlantia. The rest of the story continues in The Crown of Gilded Bones, the next book of the Blood and Ash series.