by Grace Draven
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Narrator: Katharine Lee McEwan
Length: 14 Hours and 3 Minutes
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups Speed: 1.4x
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. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.
To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.
Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven delivered an epic romance, nail-biting suspense, brutality, magic and more leaving me screaming for more!
For those with known triggers be warned the tale can be dark. There is brutality, violence, and rape as one would expect in a “gladiator”, historical, superstitious/ritualistic, battle type setting. It was not glamorized but an important aspect of the telling.
Caffeinated reasons to listen to Phoenix Unbound
- If you love historical settings, epic romances, rich cultures, good vs evil, mythology, Gods, gladiators, magic, heroes and heroines you need to grab this first audio in the Fallen Empire series.
- From the very first chapter, Draven pulled me in as they tied Gilene to other women and led them to the arena. There they would serve as a reward to the winning gladiators before being sacrificed to the Gods in the Rites of Spring ceremony. We learn that Gilene has repeated this journey for the past five years. Say what? Gilene possess the gift of fire and using magic incantations can alter her appearance.
- Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator was betrayed and sold into slavery ten years ago. He is at the mercy of Queen and dreams of freedom and revenge. He also has a gift. One kept secret that allows him to see through illusions. Yikes!
- Azarion wishing to reclaim his birthright knows that Gilene is the key to his escape and revenge. Together they flee but to earn her freedom Gilene will have to aid Azarion.
- The tale that unfolds was brilliant and equal parts light and dark. There are ghostly encounters and nomadic clans and I felt myself enthralled. The world building from the arena, villages and hillside were stunning.
- The battle scenes while graphic felt realistic and suspenseful. Even as I gasped, I was in awe and the words pulled from Draven’s pen.
- Both Gilene and Azarion were prisoners. She out of loyalty, he out of betrayal. They are both honorable and it was easy to champion them.
- The romance begins awkwardly. There is chemistry, but both have a duty to family and Azarion’s unwilling to share why he is forcing her to journey with him made him her captor. This is a romance that unfolds slowly as trust builds along with mutual respect. It was heartbreaking, beautiful and unbelievably swoon-worthy. I laughed, licked my lips in anticipation of that first kiss even as I shock my fist at their miscommunications. It drew out all of my emotions and at times I openly wept.
- The magic is fascinating, the superstitions and rituals terrifying and barbaric but everything wove together creating an epic tale that held me spellbound and made me believe.
- Katharine Lee McEwan performed an exceptional narration. She captured the essence of each character and drew out the emotions Draven penned.
- The story wrapped up wonderfully leaving me with a wickedly good audio hangover.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I loved Phoenix Unbound and cannot wait for more of the Fallen Empire. The next audio/novel releases in November. Dragon Unleashed features a dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I really loved this book! Glad you did too!
Lover of Romance
I had a fun time with this book as well so I am so happy to see that you loved it so much as well!!! We need MORE epic fantasy romance.
Anne - Books of My Heart
Everything I’ve read by Grace Draven is exceptional. Wonderful review. I read rather than listening to this one. I’m excited for more this fall.
Lindy@ A Bookish Escape
I love mythology! This sounds amazing! I can see why you gave it 5 cups of coffee! The suspense, action, romance, and all of the emotions that it made you feel make this a story I need to check out! Excellent Review Kim!
Crystal @ Lost in Storyland
I love the cover, and this sounds like a fantastic read based off the synopsis and your review. Adding this to my TBR!!
I was totally jazzed about this one, too, and can’t wait for the new release in the fall for book two. Dragon!!!!
I think I have this one on my TBR…
I won this book from somewhere last year and I really need to give it a try! 🙂 Great review!
Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind
What an interesting premise! I don’t know abut the guy blackmailing her and then they fall in love… as well as him conveniently having the ability to see through illusions. Otherwise, sounds like something very different to what I’m used to. I doubt I’ve ever read anything that has a gladiator as a main character. I hope the series keeps on making you happy (:
I’ve heard others say this was good too. Glad to hear you liked it. Thanks for the great review.
Angela - Angel's Guilty Pleasures
Great review. Appreciate the trigger warning. Have this on my TBR.
I loved this one on audio as well. I almost set it aside because it started out so dark, so glad I kept with it. Happy that you loved it too!
Oh all those things push my must read buttons Kim, wow thanks
ps I’m still dealing w/flood issues so I’ll be around when I can xo
Oh yes I really enjoyed this one as well and I’m curious for book 2!
I’ve been meaning to read a book about phoenixes for some time now!
Happy to hear this one is good! Slow burn romance is always great and.. did you say terrifying and barbaric rituals?? YEAH!
Genesis @ Whispering Chapters
First, that is such a beautiful cover! I love when battle scenes have you in a state of suspense, basically holding your breath. And I love that the magic here is fascinating!
oh yeah, I’m still waiting on the library gettings this! Glad you gave it 5 cups as well!