Published by Ace Books on September 25, 2018
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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.
“Gilene clenched her hands in her skirts, trying not to panic. Surely, he couldn’t recognize her. She’d returned to the capital time and again with a different face. Her skills with illusion were as refined as they were with fire. The slavers never knew they brought the same woman from Beroe to Kraelag year after year. No slave fighter from the Stara Dragana should have the talent to see past her veil of enchantment. Fear coated her tongue at a memory from the previous year. Azarion’s green gaze had locked on her and narrowed. Neither lustful nor leering, he’d stared at her for several moments as if seeing not a freckled redhead with wild, frizzy hair, but her true self: a plain, dark-eyed brunette.”
Despite owning a lot of Grace Draven’s books (ahem, all of them), I had never actually gotten around to reading any of them. And guys, holy heck! I did not know what I was missing. I will admit that initially, I was worried because my brain went: omg, it’s The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. *slowly backs away* If the writing in the start hadn’t been so excellent, and the plot hadn’t been pushing forward at a breakneck pace, I might have given up. If I had, I would have missed one of the best books I’ve read all year – so good, that it wound up on my favorites shelf. That’s a huge deal for me. If you have read A Song of Fire and Ice (namely the Dothraki storylines) or Throne of Glass, Phoenix Unbound is going to feel familiar. I promise, it’s not a rip off. There is lots of very cool and new ideas waiting for you. I know one thing for sure: I will be obsessively checking for news about the sequel.