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Fantasy Romance Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven (Fallen Empire #1)

Egalley thanks to Ace Books

Synopsis fromGoodreads
A 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.

  Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The BookDepository


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Guys, guys, this book is amazeballs! I totally cried at the end. First of all, this is Grace Draven we are talking about: an author I always trust to deliver.

Secondly, the story is ruthless and at the same time, kind, bittersweet and raw. I kept thinking of Spartacus, with a smidgen of C.L. Wilson and Elizabeth Vaughan in that sense, that the main hero is a conqueror himself. Or he goes from a slave to a conqueror. And the main heroine... Holy crap, peeps! I loved her spirit and the depth of her self-awareness.

Azarion and Gilene go from enemies bound together by common need to survive to reluctant partners, then tentative friends to lovers. The shift is gradual, full of embers of Azarion and Gilene's reluctant attraction to each other despite them not wanting to get burnt by it. No Azarion scarred by years of abuse, no Gilene, bitter from her forced role of a savior for her village and the price she pays for it every year are quick to trust or to allow themselves to feel something. But the fire keeps building up until they cannot resist throwing themselves into it. And when they do it's done wholeheartedly. And because the attraction and acquired feelings are slow to build, they are also much more believable than any instalove scenarios we see so often in romance genre.

The background of their romance and their journey is incredibly rich and atmospheric. From the opulence of Krael capital to the simple fare of traders, and finally to the lives of Savatar clan in the steppes, everything is engrossing and vivid. I loved Azarion's  mother and sister, and to be honest majority of the characters and their backstory were very interesting.

My only disappointment was in two main villains who either didn't receive enough limelight to give them depth or weren't intended to be more than milestones in main characters' development.

Otherwise, Phoenix Unbound is a rich, beautiful story with a powerful message of love and sacrifice, and I am dying to read its continuation or spin-offs. I freaking adored it and didn't want this book to end. An exceptional, inspiring read, highly recommended.

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Ребятушки, какая же это шикарная книга! У меня под конец в глазах стояли слёзы.

Во-первых, это - Грэйс Дрэйвен, автор, которой я всегда могу довериться.

Во-вторых, сама история полна контрастов - беспощадна, режет по нервам и в то же время горько-сладкая и добрая. Я все думала о Спартаке с толикой С.Л. Уилсон и Элизабет Вон, в том смысле, что главный герой - завоеватель. А если точно, то он поднимается от раба к завоевателю. А главная героиня, это вообще красота! Какие же у нее были потрясающий дух и самоосознание.

Азарион и Джилен проходят метаморфозис от врагов, объединённых общей необходимостью выжить к неохотным партнерам, затем от робких друзей к любовникам. Этот переход постепенный, наполненный осторожностью и тлеющими угольками влечения, которые вспыхивают совсем нескоро и которым очень тяжело переломить нежелание обоих друг с другом связываться. И Азарион и Джилен покалечены душевно. Он - годами издевательств и насилия над ним, превративших его в машину убийства. Она - ролью ежегодного жертвоприношения, которое не только оставляет шрамы у нее в душе и на теле, но и делает ее изгоем деревни, которую она спасает.

Фон для их истории очень атмосферен и насыщен, начиная от распущенных излишеств кровавой столицы Краэльской Империи, продолжая простым образом жизни торговцев и заканчивая степными просторами Саватарского клана. Мне особо понравились мать и сестра Азариона и обычаи его народа.

Единственным разочарованием этой книги лично для меня были ее злодеи. Они оказались довольно картонными, то ли из-за недостатка времени на их разработку то ли потому, что их единственной целью было продвижение характеров главных героев.

В остальном, книга эта написана мощно, и режет по сердцу своим посланием жертвоприношения во имя любви. Очень-очень надеюсь на продолжение или спин-офф и вам рекомендую читать. Покупайте, одалживайте, читать нужно!

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