Every year each town and village are required to send a girl to the Empire’s capital to be burned alive. One small village has sent the same girl for five years. Gilene protects all the village girls with only the magic she possesses. But the costs to her may be less than worth it?
However, it all changes this year, the year, that Azarion, a gladiator sets out to blackmail the woman who keeps returning each year to burn. He is set on escaping from slavery and unknown to Gilene returning to his clan in order to reclaim his birthright.
To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more. I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Pheonix Unbound was published September 25, 2018.
Phoenix Unbound was an intriguingly dark tale. Its characters were filled with feeling, fervency, and bravery while the unique and tyrannical world they lived in attempted to force them into submission. I adored this book due to the intricate characters, and the world the author created despite the dark subject matter discussed.
The characters created this tale with their unwillingness to bend to the evil that subjugates them and the bravery they demonstrate to move beyond their past into a better future. Gilene is a fire witch willing to sacrifice herself for her village over and over again. Her sense of duty constantly warred with the need to be something more than just a sacrifice, a girl forever scarred and used until she dies young. The things she went through for her village were horrific but her spirit never died. She bravely fought to build a better world for others and herself. One could not help but love her character simply due to the very human emotions and struggles that she faced and conquered.
And her counterpart in Phoenix Unbound was just as stunning. Azarion, a gladiator is intent upon regaining his place and his home after ten long years of killing and abuse suffered from the Empress. At first he was a gruff and unbending character but as the story went on we began to see his true self as a caring and steadfast individual. I loved his character for he perfectly offset Gilene and he continued living and fighting even during the most painful moments of his life. In the end I adored all of the characters especially the main two.
However, these characters would not be complete without the world building which shaped them. The world they lived in was cruel and brutal. Under the thumb of two cruel and insatiable rulers everyone suffers and Gilene and Azarion suffered more than most. I adored the idea of fire magic which was explored in this book along with spooks and haunts. It was unique and definitely worth the read.
I would recommend reading it for the world building was absolutely fascinating and the characters were well written. I cannot wait to read Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven which comes out in June of 2020 and is the second book in this series.