In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart. Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks. Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.
I’ve wanted to read this book since before it came out. Phoenixes and a complicated sister story was enough to intrigue me. I mean, plus, look at the cover! It’s stunning. I really do not have much of an introduction because I was going into this book with a complicated sister story and phoenixes being enough to pull me in haha.
Holy heck, was this a good fantasy book.
In a high fantasy, this is the kind of book that I am drawn to, that I crave. It’s vast and vibrant, full of political intrigue and magic.
Everything about this book feels incredibly fleshed out. Like, very incredibly so, to the point where it’s leaning towards falling into the pile of things I didn’t love so much about this book. But, there’s just something about it that I keep coming back to, and wanting to keep thinking about. It’s a story that does not move at a break-neck pace. It plants it’s feet and stands its ground. It’s a lengthy book, and I felt like it was a fantastic set up for a trilogy. It sets the stage for so much. The small battles that lead up to the final one are just as important as the ones that conclude everything.
This might be a book that sets up many, many things, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. There was a whole lot of worldbuilding, but I honestly didn’t mind it! I found it really interesting and it honestly didn’t feel like an information dump to me. It was intermixed throughout the story, and it made sense when it was paired up with plot points that were happening along the way. And really, this world is one that has such a deep backstory and history, that I wanted to know more about it.
I really, really enjoyed Veronyka’s character. I loved her kindness, her passion, and her stubbornness. Plus, her connection with animals is truly top notch.
I also really liked Veronyka’s relationship with her sister. It is not a good one, but that was exactly what I liked about it. They’re so different, the two sisters, and they want completely different things. Though, I was kind of hoping their story would go a different direction. Yes, I think it will be interesting with the direction it chose to go, I was just hoping for more of a darkness and villain story from one of them.
I did not love Sev and Tristian characters as much. Objectively, they were good characters. I liked Sev’s journey as a solider and I liked Tristian’s journey to climb the ranks in the Riders. I like what they did and how they did, but they felt kind of flat to me. I dunno, they just didn’t feel completely real to me. They felt more like things to move the plot forward than anything else. Perhaps I will like them more in the sequel.
And the animals! I loved the connection to animals in this book. Plus, phoenixes are just super, super cool. Really, I love animals in any books, so this was fantastic for me haha.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think most of my enjoyment comes from the fact that this book seems to be setting up something much, much bigger than itself. I can appreciate the small moments, and I enjoyed Veryonyka’s journey to find the Riders. I think this series is going to be a slow burn, and dang is it awesome to see these embers of something that might ignite. It’s a very solid fantasy, and I very much liked reading it.