Lets Know About the Blood Sport

In finish the Queen, the first part of Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards series, Lady Everleigh Safira Winter Blair-endowed with a “bite of fantastic names” and a nose full of banal Magic— 17.im race for the throne of Bellona, a kingdom that keeps its actions and polite manners closer. Orphaned by assassins at a young age, Evie has spent most of her life playing the boring game of palace diplomacy, making sure to stay on the side of her cruel Cousin Vasilia, a gifted witch and daughter of the queen. This condition of peace is already condemned in the first verdict, and Evie quickly finds herself on the run after Vasilia massacres the rest of the royal court. In search of a former palace guard who now leads a gladiatorial troupe, Evie slips into the ranks of the professional wrestler without any training, hiding her Royal identity while secretly carrying evidence of her cousin’s deed.

Although the comparisons with “Game of Thrones” are inevitable, and the emphasis on action mode ensures that the references to the Hunger Games are not far off (Evie, dressed in a black swan for a death game: “a midnight black make-up surrounded my eyes with thick and heavy circles before flying in delicate thin stripes reminiscent of The opening scene, in which the chef of the Isobel Palace teaches Evie the finer points of cake making, recalls Ella’s friendship with the kitchen fairy Mandy enchanted at Ella. While the plot progresses as fast as Vasilia’s magic flash, the story benefits from the author’s decision to give Evie a number of less pyrotechnic abilities: a supernatural smell (which is initially useful in cooking and proves nothing in a world where so many cups sneeze virulent) and a kind of Antimagic that serves to defuse Finish the Queen presents a world where magical skills are inherent and martial arts are learned. Finish the Queen is a brilliant and quick read for those who want to enjoy their revenge in two sessions.

While Finish the Queen embraces the brilliance of the knife edge as she prepares for a climax, Grace Draven’s earthy phoenix proves immune to the glamorous Gladiator and more susceptible to romance. This first book in the draven The Fallen Empire series introduces Gilene, who uses her fire magic to serve as a victim for her village during the solemn burning of the Kraelian Empire. His ability to pass the Test year after year saves his peers from death, but cannot protect them from the painful side effects of their powers or the routine roughness of the enslaved gladiators of The Empire.


When the sympathetic gladiator sees Azarion through the Magical Illusion with which Gilene pulls the deception, he uses his power as a means of escape, then leads him to his Clan where the “fire witches” are revered to strengthen his claim to leadership. Rather than romanticizing the power struggle between the kidnapper and the lawbreaker, the story establishes an immediate balance between their male and female roles by making them equal victims of the greater power that puts them in conflict.


In draven’s environment — older and darker than the queen-Magic is a relative rarity that requires greater confidence in tactile abilities. Gilene’s ability to call fire is treated as a literal craft, an “up and down of Magic” that she can “wind up” [s]. . . come out slowly.”Both books maintain the Action and promise that others will follow, but while finish the Queen finds its fulfillment by arming an indomitable protagonist for Action, Phoenix Unbound seeks the softer side of the characters who have been in Action all their lives. Despite its shorter page count, Phoenix Unbound feels longer than Finish the Queen, but its progressive quality is intentional, and slow-burn romance students will probably want even more time to glow in their campfire.

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