This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Fantasy Romance
Published by Ace
Released on June 9, 2020
In Phoenix Unbound, a new fantasy world is introduced. It is diverse, colorful, and darkly dangerous. It also introduced the heroine of Dragon Unleashed, an engaging side character named Halani. I couldn’t wait to get Halani’s own adventure with a dragon.
Dragon Unleashed is the second of the Fallen Empire series and is something of a companion novel with strong spoilers for book one so shouldn’t be read out of order.
Malachus is one of the legendary draga. His kind have all but vanished especially within an Empire where they are hunted. He doesn’t want to leave the land of Winosia and cross the sea, but thieving humans have stolen his mother-bond, a bone from his mother, that allows him to safely shift into his dragon form when it is time or he will immolate. His quest takes him to a free trade market on the edge of the Empire where the hunted become the hunters and it is only with the help of a mysterious healer from one of the caravans that he survives. Halani is like no other human he knows and he slowly learns to trust her even as the dark evil empress is closing in on the dragon she wishes to exploit and wring every last drop of magic from his blood.
Halani has lived as a trader all her life and used to her uncle’s greed, but when he acquires a magical bone and won’t listen to her about the bad feeling she has for this object, she knows trouble will follow. And, a tall mysterious stranger whose magic sings with her own is the one who follows. Having earth magic that she must keep secret at all costs, she adds more secrets to it because another’s life depends upon it. Slowly, she comes to know Malachus and learns the price of her secrets might be his very life. Will she be enough when the might of the empire comes for a draga who is nothing like she expected?
Unlike Phoenix Unbound, Dragon Unleashed takes its time building to the action part of the plot. Slowly chess pieces are moved into place and gently the characters and their relationship are developed. It is by no means boring, but the tension doesn’t snap into place until late so the book calls for patience.
Halani and Malachus are fabulous characters and I had no trouble engaging with both or seeing them together. There was no hot sizzle there, but a slowly building fire. Hali’s mother Asil and the other members of the trading caravan group were fun to get to know, too- okay not her greedy uncle. There are other perspectives- the empress and her go-to guy. They are so warped and cruel that it was easy to hate them and cheer on their fate in the end. Though, in that side of the story, I think I spotted the mysterious female lead of the next book.
As much as I enjoyed the characters and the storyline, I felt a little detachment and I wanted something more out of that epilogue. It was good, but I wanted more. Maybe that bit of more will come in the next book.
All in all, it was good stuff and I think fantasy romance fans who don’t mind a gentle pace and drawing out of the story will enjoy it.
I rec’d this book via Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.
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