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Release Day Fantasy Romance Review: Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven

Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven (The Fallen Empire #2)


ecopy courtesy of the publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads

A dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth fight a corrupt empire in this thrilling and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Magic is outlawed in the Krael Empire and punishable by death. Born with the gift of earth magic, the free trader Halani keeps her dangerous secret closely guarded. When her uncle buys a mysterious artifact, a piece of bone belonging to a long-dead draga, Halani knows it's far more than what it seems.

Dragas haven't been seen for more than a century, and most believe them extinct. They're wrong. Dragas still walk among the denizens of the Empire, disguised as humans. Malachus is a draga living on borrowed time. The magic that has protected him will soon turn on him--unless he finds a key part of his heritage. He has tracked it to a group of free traders, among them a grave-robbing earth witch who fascinates him as much as she frustrates him with her many secrets.

Unbeknownst to both, the Empire's twisted empress searches for a draga of her own, to capture and kill as a trophy. As Malachus the hunter becomes the hunted, Halani must risk herself and all she loves to save him from the Empire's machinations and his own lethal birthright.
 

Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | Book Depository

8/10

* * *
I've read Dragon Unleashed within a week of starting it, but had to re-arrange my thoughts for a few weeks before I was comfortable enough to share them with you.


Taken on its own, this book has a good, solid story, lovely, developed characters and a comfortingly familiar world-building. There is a melancholy and fatalism in Halani which I found deeply fascinating. Her people are travellers with a rich culture of storytelling, beautifully decorated wagons and lively music. Halani doesn't agree with everything in her world but accepts it as is. Her destiny is with the caravan, her mother and her uncle. She is a healer and a carer, so much so, that it's hard for the reader to see anything else in the beginning.

Malachus, on the other hand, is a creature of fire. There is suppressed rage and anger in him and resentment of people, who persecuted dragas for centuries. It's almost like an ancestral memory. He has this sense of urgency around him and massive determination. He is quiet and stays in the shadows, observing and cataloguing before striking.

And yet, they work really well as a couple. One grounds, the other ignites. What is said between them is compacted and precise, and what is unsaid speaks volumes. I love that about this couple. They were quiet but intense.

Saying all this, compared with Phoenix Unbound, Dragon Unleashed falls a little bit short. While the first book is an epic story of love and retribution, the second one is an interlude. It doesn't get a chance to spread its wings before it's finished. I liked it, but the ending left me unsatisfied. Still, recommended!

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