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Phoenix Unbound

(Fallen Empire #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,017 ratings  ·  611 reviews
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.

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 w
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 400 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Ace
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Shnelle It is very much adult. The book has rape in it. It isn't graphic but as someone who has bad stuff in their past I REALLY didn't appreciate the fact…moreIt is very much adult. The book has rape in it. It isn't graphic but as someone who has bad stuff in their past I REALLY didn't appreciate the fact that the book doesn't have a warning in the description.

I usually love this author, but this one was soured by Stockholm syndrome and of course the rape for me.(less)

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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,017 ratings  ·  611 reviews

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ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

“Witch-fire the villagers named it. An ancient magic woven into the flesh and fabric of a single girl child born each generation in Beroe. No one knew from whence it originated or why only one woman from every generation in a small village inherited it, but the village elders had kept its secret close and had deceived the Empire for decades.”

When Berkley offered me this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the author wrote a book that
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads, arc, fantasy
Phoenix Unbound is a contradiction.
It is tender and savage.
Sweet yet bitter.
Beautiful and disgusting.
Heart-breaking and heart-mending.
And, put simply, I loved it.
“She and this slave fighter shared a common truth. He dealt with sword and ax, and she with fire.”

Once upon a time, a fire witch and a gladiator crossed paths. Gilene had accepted that as the only person capable of protecting her village, she would be degraded and burned year after year in order to satisfy the bloodlust of a corrupt
Laura Thalassa

What a freaking ride! This book was everything I wanted and more. I'm desperately hoping this is the beginning of a series because I need M-O-R-E!

So if any of you have seen me on Facebook, you know I've been harping about this book for a while now. I mean, Grace won me over with Radiance, so I know anything she writes is gold, but when she happened to mention researching kurgans (totally worth Wiki-ing if you've never heard of the term before) the psycho archaeology nut in me went rabi
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.5 stars. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

The Krael Empire is a brutal and corrupt kingdom, reminiscent of the Roman Empire, with leaders who are intent on expanding its borders by conquering its neighbors. Inside its borders, life is nightmarish for those of its people who get the short end of the stick … like Gilene and Azarion. Gilene is a young woman from a small village with a deep secret, known only to the other villagers. She has a magical affinity for fire, as well as t
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Every now and then, I get in these reading moods—more and more often lately—where I find myself craving a really good, swoon-worthy fantasy romance. I’d been in that mood for a few weeks when I decided to pick up Phoenix Unbound, and let me tell you, damn, does this book hit the spot.

For Gilene, spring was the season neither of rain nor of planting, but of suffering.

Born a fire-witch, one of Gilene’s various magical abilities is that she is unharmed by fire—which means that, in her village
Robin (Bridge Four)
Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! Yes!!!!


This was fantastic and I loved the entire thing. This won’t be for everyone since it is brutal in places but for me it has everything I really love in a book.

#1 - Characters that have been through some heavy shit.

Azarion has been a gladiator for ten years, is now the Gladius Prime and the unfortunate toy and brutalized play thing of the Empress for almost as long. He is a slave and but has held on with the hope of escaping the pits.
Beautiful, soft, and perfumed, Dalv
Grace Draven books always seems to have a very interesting premise, but for whatever reason I just never find myself really drawn into them. They are written well enough with believable (yet a little sparse) world building, but the story pacing is where I find myself zoning out at times.

The basic idea behind this book is that in a fantasy world there is an empire that forces every town to sacrifice a woman to be taken to the capital for a ritual burning. One town has a woman (Gilene) who can't
Princess under cover
Woke up mad this morning and took it down another star. 2.5 stars rounded down. Then did some research and rounded back up. Points below are still valid.

Hmm. This is going to be a hard review to write. I think for hard-core fantasy readers, this might float their boat more:
* Lots of world building (sometimes so detailed I skip and try to get to a faster-moving place in the plotline.) Reminds me of how bored I got reading my first Tolkien book.
* Romance is good and progressive but certainly not t
Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was excellent. I had not read any of Grace Draven's work before picking this book up but I had heard a lot of really good things. Since the premise of this book appealed to me, I decided to give it a try which ended up being a very good decision. I made the mistake of starting this book just before I planned to go to sleep. I had planned to read just one chapter but the first chapter of this book blew me away
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Phoenix Unbound has been a highly anticipated novel for me. I have enjoyed Grace Draven’s past novels and I couldn’t wait to read this first book in a new series.

I enjoyed getting into this new story. Phoenix Unbound opened up a wonderfully vibrant and detailed new world. The premise alone was fascinating. Engaging characters, and a slow burn romance kept me flipping the pages.

A gladiator and a witch just sounded too fascinating not to pick up.

And I’m glad I did.

Grace Draven knows how to tell a

Title: Phoenix Unbound
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Author: Grace Draven
Release date: September 25, 2018
Cliffhanger: No
HEA(view spoiler)

She and this slave fighter shared a common truth. He dealt death with sword and ax, and she with fire. Neither commanded their fates.

This is exactly the kind of fantasy I love to read, but is so difficult to find. The storyline instantly engaged me, first of all. Which is not very common in the genre, as a general rule. The first in a fantasy seri
So, right off the bat I have to clarify that this isn't quite as good as Wraith Kings or Master of Crows or, my all-time fave, ENTREAT ME. The writing for this particular new series feels different, not bad different, just.. had you handed me this book and had me guess the author, I would never have suspected Draven. I don't know if it's just me or what but I look forward to discussing that with others as more and more people get their hands on this title.

"I may curse your name for dragging me h
Phoenix Unbound contains a complex, captivating, dark and compelling plot that I couldn't help but love every second of it! That being said, its a snowball rolling down the hill read. It starts out with a young woman being sent by her tribe as a sacrifice to the evil ruler's gods and ends up being SO. MUCH. MORE.

What can I say but I'm completely hooked. Draven writes a high fantasy packed with all my favorites, magic, mayhem, romance and writing that rivets the read to the pages. I simply can't
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

The first and only other book I’ve ever read by Grace Draven is Master of Crows, and clearly she has come a long way in the almost ten years since then. What hasn’t changed at all though, is her knack for writing a swoon-worthy fantasy romance. Speaking of someone who typically stays away from this subgenre, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Phoenix Unbound.

Set in a world inspired by the bloodier and more decadent elem
Cait • A Page with a View
This was a DNF so I'm leaving off a rating... too much swearing and too little that I connected with or cared about.
Minni Mouse
2.5 stars because after the first few action-packed and suspenseful chapters, the rest was surprisingly boring. Like, long-journey-to-nowhere-and-aimless-basket weaving-with-the-in laws level of boring.

1) Book chemistry at first with the Ancient Civilizations setting and slave trope and gladiators and escaping together and speshull powers.

2) Gritty worldbuilding in those first few chapters with violence and depravity. I was about to settle in for a grim, unabashed fantasy story.

Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. GD has a way with words. Her storytelling is beautiful and the world building was perfect, but the way she created those characters was just brilliant, they were well developed. Their backstory, the things they believed in and their struggles made them real people with extraordinary personalities.

There's a few things I would've changed. Like giving more space to the antagonists. Specially in the first half of the second part, when the pace got a bit slow. I wanted the cousin to do som
Douglas Meeks
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was not sure exactly what to expect from this new series from Grace Draven since I am hopelessly addicted to her “Wraith Kings” series but I did not want to see that story rehashed into another series but since I have pretty much considered almost everything she has written in the 5 Star area I was expecting a lot so I should not have worried, totally different story and setting.

Can’t say I was disappointed since we have somewhat of a basic epic fantasy type of a plot where we have a couple th
Megan ❀
ARC provided by Berkley Publishing Group via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts and review.

You know what most writers would commit murder for? Killer first chapters. Y'know, the ones that are just so perfect - in pacing, prose, tension - that by the third paragraph the contract is SEALED, kiss your free time good-bye this book is your life now. You know what Grace Draven's got that most writers would commit murder for? Killer first chapters.

Just like with Draven's Radiance, Phoenix Unb
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Happy release day to this book! I *loved* it. Obviously.



this is my first book by this author and WOW. OMG. I NEED MORE.

i own 2 of her other books - the wraith king ones, i think the series is called? i just noticed there is a 3rd coming out so i might try and wait till it's finished before reading because ugh i cannot handle waiting!!

i ADORED this. so hard. i need to put my words together but i'm struggling.

enemies to lovers = SOLD. i love a good e
2.5 stars

Grace Draven really likes to write slow-burning romances.

First 10%: good
Last 10%: also good
Middle 80%: a real slog

Seriously, I almost didn't make it through, and I had just recently read all three books in the Blackthorn & Grim* trilogy by Juliet Marillier back-to-back, which was a real slog of a different stripe.

But the ending more or less made up for the slowness, so I suppose it wasn't all that bad. Just a really long and really boring read that could have been interesting with
Sophie "Beware Of The Reader"
“The two of them were bound by a common past of subjugation and a resolve to overcome the damage it wrought.”


4 solid stars


I think this first quote is the best way to symbolize Azarion and Gilene’s relationship as well as give you a taste of Grace Draven beautiful yet not too flowery ‘s writing.

I had no idea this book was about to be published untill I saw its review on Mel’s blog. It was a one click as I adored Eidolon!

What I got was a solid, steady story about a very slow burn relationshi
(Tori-Smexybooks) smexys_sidekick
Once a year, the Empire requires the local villages to send a young woman to burned alive for the amusement of the Emperor and his queen. One village has sent the same young woman for five years; a young woman whose magic protects everyone in her village. Only this year, something has changed. Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator and the son of a chieftain is determined to escape his slavery and reclaim his birthright. But he needs Gilene and will use whatever possible to get her help. N ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Protected from the pyre's fire by her magic, Gilene has been masquarating as her village's tithe to the empire for the last 5 years. It all comes to a stop when she's found out by a gladiator who sees through her illusions and blackmails her into using her gifts to help him escape.

I've been a fan of Grace's work since I got my hands on Randiance and Phoenix unbound was just as lovely (though Radiance is still my #1 because nothing beats comparing eyes to parasites and describing your love inter
Amy Risner
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Melanie

ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review

My friend Melanie at Meltotheany suggested I request this ARC due to all the rave reviews, and I am forever thankful she did! This book was such a treat and I cannot recommend it enough! Surely this will be one of my favorite fantasy books of the year.

Please keep in mind I haven’t read a lot of adult fantasy romance, so I don’t have much to compare this to. But what I read totally exceeded my expectations and makes me want to branch into th
“Home is among those who love you.”

Gilene is a fire witch who uses her power every year to disguise her appearance. The empire requires a sacrifice of young women. She goes every year to keep someone from her village from dying.

Their stares shifted briefly past her shoulder to where her family huddled together to watch her leave.
Not all shackles were fashioned of iron.

Azarion is a gladiator, sold into slavery by his cousin, who has become the best, but is looking for a way to go home to hi
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-books
*** I received this book by the Penguin First To Read Program in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much to Ace Books for the oppertunity to read and review Phoenix Unbound! ***

Oh My, My My what a fantastic and amazing book Phoenix Unbound was for me, I can not describe how excited I was about reading this book. I heard nothing but amazing things about Grace Draven other books. I have read some of the reviews about Mrs. Draven other books and they were all highly praised and recommende
Simply captivating and positively riveting, Grace Draven’s PHOENIX UNBOUND is the tale of two slaves, each trapped under a corrupt empire’s thumb, their daring alliance and a seemingly impossible escape to freedom. But their freedom is only the beginning of their story as Gilene, who possesses a magical power over fire and Azarion, a gladiator forced not only to kill, but to prostitute himself to a brutal queen escape into a world riddled with fear, deceit and mistrust.

Azarion has his own secre
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I'm an author and Louisiana native living in Texas with my husband, three smalls and a big doofus dog. I have lived in Spain, hiked the Teton Mountains, honeymooned in Scotland, ridden in competition rodeo and am the great great granddaughter of a Nicaraguan president. I also hate doing laundry and refuse to iron anything.

I've loved storytelling since forever. I published my first short story with

Other books in the series

Fallen Empire (2 books)
  • Dragon Unleashed (The Fallen Empire, #2)
“Wife of my soul,” he said, and this time his voice didn’t shake but held all the command of the Savatar ataman who had led an army against the Empire and won. “Look at me.” 3 likes
“He bent to kiss her right eyelid, then her left, the salt of her tears stinging his lips. “I’m a greedy man. I want all of you, heart, soul, and body. You already have all that I am. It seems only fair.” 2 likes
More quotes…