Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire #1) by Grace Draven

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

The review

This book has a few trigger warnings: Rape, death by immolation and other ghastly means, heads flying and entrails released.

Every time i finish reading a Grace Draven book, i am convinced this woman has ancient Fae story telling blood in her veins. Because there’s no way something this beautiful can exist.

But it does, and i am typing out my review. 

This isn’t an instant love story, nope its a i- hate -you- so -much -i -would- burn- you when i -get- the -chance -to story. In other words its an enemy to lovers story and after everything the MC’s got through they really did deserve that happy ending. 

Gilene and Azarion are slaves of the empire in different ways. Gilene is duty bound by her village to burn every year in place of other girls because she is a fire witch. Azarion is the Gladius Prime and the Empress’s pet, none of which are good because the empress is one sick [insert swear word]. Through blackmailing and kidnapping they ”bond”. And if bonding means empty threats (Azarion) and the promise of torching your ass (Gilene) yup they had a ”great” time. Of course i am joking these guys were on each others necks throughout, they are both stubborn and relentless because they have different goals to achieve.

I admired the way their spirits still shined bright despite what they had gone through and the hands of the empire. I liked how it built up to the moment they fell in love, it was just perfect. It wasn’t rushed, it was like tiny almost unnoticeable changes that crept up on both of them.

What i love most about Grace’s writing is her world building they are unique and captivating.  

The Krael empire is a perfect example of rotten morals and a bed of evil. The people and their rulers have lost every ounce of their humanity demanding human sacrifices for the rites of spring festival. I think its modeled after the Roman empire because there are Gladiators that fight to the death as entertainment for the people. Yup i got instant hatred for everything the empire stands for. Bleh!! Off with the empire!!!

Honestly the story just gets better with each chapter, it is well paced.

I gave it five stars because i know this book would stick with me for a long time, it has entered my shelf of favorites. I look forward to book two this year. Its currently available on Amazon so you can buy it if you are interested.

Thank you for reading this review!

As Always,

Nelo- The Booked Unicorn


My name is Chinelo. I love reading sci-fi, fantasy, and romance. I write reviews and recommend books also on my blog and Instagram ( and @thebookedunicorn).

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