(I got a digital copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
This book throws you directly into the action, with little info dumping in the beginning: we learn information as the plot goes, and this is a method I tend to like. I found it easy enough to understand the premise of the story (the hope of enhanced humanity through nano-technology, the androids rebelling against their creators and taking control...). And the mastermind behind the android faction was devious enough to my liking. A little on the boasting side, yet with a tendency to keep a contingency plan on the side, and screw with the heroes' minds a little more every time. I like that.
However, there were a lot of things I didn't quite know what to make of, and those contributed to make me consider Blood Crown as a little sub-average, when I would've wanted to enjoy it more (from the blurb, I really hoped I would).
First, there were three points of view, but I felt that only Sera's was really useful. Nicolai's tended to rehash things the reader has already learnt, only with his opinion about it. Not completely uninteresting, but clearly unneeded. Archibald's... Well, the way he saw Sera was sweet, and highlighted the possibility of feelings within machines, the "can an artificial intelligence be like a human or only copy it"; unfortunately, his scenes were often pretty short, made of waiting for events to happen, and not really useful either. Too bad; his presence could've been made better.
Sometimes, the characters' actions were also hard to understand. Both Nic and Sera tended to jump into situations without thinking them through, not always because they lacked time, but because... I don't know? And then I didn't see any point to Nic's lies, pretending he didn't know who Sera was, when just explaining everything would've been so much easier and faster. For what reason? A very insignificant one, considering the big picture and what was at stake. It led to mistrust on Sera's part, and to misunderstandings of a kind I don't like: those that are here only to create artificial tension, not because they're logical. In a way, the Mind's apparent lack of logics (making humans cook food nobody would eat) seemed more believabe, in a "we're superior to humans but in fact we imitate them because we want to be like them, only better, oh the irony" way.
I remain divided about the West/East thing: those terms don't make much sense to me in space, and seemed a remnant of some USA & Eastern block thing, minus the Cold War. The ships' names (New Oregon, New California...) and the Eastern peopel's names (Nicolai, Natalya, Karenina...) definitely gave a very open feeling about that. Part of me is saying "sure, why not?", while another still can't really fathom it. Some thousand years later, in space, would we still care much about that? And what about the rest of the world? Where were people from Asian, African, or any other descent?
The pace was good enough until around 60-65% of the story... then it fell into too much romance. I didn't mind the romance itself in hereas I do in other novels: both Nic and Sera had been kind of "programmed" for that from the beginning, with their symbiants acting to put them together, so, OK, not cool in terms of personal freedom, but not out of the blue either. Only what should've been a part mounting towards climax wasn't, because both heroes were busy being romancy. At that point, I got bored.
In conclusion: interesting premise and good ideas that weren't developed enough, and didn't do it for me in the end.