About Phoenix UnboundA woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance. Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses. But this year is different. Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan. To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.
Review of Phoenix UnboundPhoenix Unbound lived up to all my very high expectations. First, there is a dark situation that the hero and heroine must rise above, with so many obstacles thrown in their way. The greatest obstacle is the Krael Empire itself, with it’s iron fisted grip on the people, its decadent ways and total disregard for the people that they rule. Slave gladiator fighting and horrible burning sacrifices, which they delicately dub the ‘Rites of Spring’, make the Empire so easy to hate. I enjoyed all the little things that were thrown in to describe the people and culture of both Azarion’s and Gilene’s people. The dyes that Gilene’s people make. Their clothing and food. The talented horse riders among Azarion’s people, the Savatar. The Savatar berry gathering excursion. The barrows, with the supernatural experiences that go with them. Another thing I liked is that there is no love lost between Gilene and Azarion from the beginning. Azarion’s use of Gilene to reclaim his birthright means Gilene is forced to go to his homeland instead of hers. She is not happy. Not happy at all. It will take a long time for them to appreciate each other. In the meantime, as the reader, I liked both of these character even if they did not like each other. Both had a sense of responsibility to their people. I wanted them to overcome their differences and figure out a way to get together, even if it seemed pretty impossible. It is those impossible situations that make for such a good story. Speaking of impossible, the Krael Empire seems quite impossible to defeat. They have all the power at the beginning. But the series title is Fallen Empire, so it is not a spoiler to say that our hero and heroine will go up against the Empire, each in a way that reflects their own strengths. The ending, was very satisfying. Even though this is the first book of a series, you don’t get that feeling at all. Phoenix Unbound is a complete story with no loose ends. Which also makes me happy! I think it is fair to say that Grace Draven has much talent. Including Phoenix Unbound, I have read 8 books by Ms. Draven and everyone of them is a winner. If you enjoy fantasy with a generous dose of romance, you cannot go wrong with this author. Through NetGalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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