This book’s fast-paced, high-action fantasy setting has a little bit of everything – romance, political intrigue, doppelgangers, fight scenes, dance, and so much royalty. Not to mention prophecies and chosen ones. And one heck of a cliffhanger.

About the Book

She calls the Empire home. He pledges to bring its downfall.

Death is Velamir’s close acquaintance. As a student in the Chishman academy, he cannot escape the brutal war. When he’s sent on a mission with three fellow academy cadets, Velamir returns to the Empire, the land of his birth. Calamity befalls the group as they trek through enemy territory, and Velamir learns a part of his past that makes the mission far more personal. Burdened with the deaths of the unavenged and the chance of losing his own life, Velamir must decide if revenge is worth the cost.

Natassa knows her role well: The silent and obedient girl. The one who looks away from the torture her father, the emperor, inflicts on the Empire’s inhabitants. The princess. But she’s a shackled prisoner, and somewhere under the mask is a spark of rebellion. When she learns of her father’s intention to marry her to a man she loathes, Natassa crafts a risky plan of her own—one dangerous enough to get her killed.

Two searching hearts. Two perilous paths. Velamir must find the courage to face his past and Natassa must find the strength to face herself before the war consumes them both.

My Thoughts

This one took me a little bit to get into it. I’m not really sure why, possibly the violence. It has a lot of violence. In that say, it was a little bit like Game of Thrones at least the TV show. Don’t hate me but I’ve never read the books.

I really enjoyed the growth trajectories of the characters. Growth is essential in any story, but it always seems like maybe it’s easier to show or accomplish in YA stories – maybe because they are literally still growing up. I really enjoyed the changes seen in all of the main characters by the end. Well, except for one or two – but I’m sure you’ll figure out who those are when you read it yourself. I don’t like to do spoilers, so if you’d like to discuss it you’re welcome to message me when you’ve read it yourself to further discuss.

I enjoyed the relationships between the various characters, and seeming those change and grow throughout the story as well. The friendship between Velamir and Jax was adorable and so lovable. I can’t wait to see more of that. I think Jax might have been my favorite character, which is pretty much par for course. He was the equivalent to Sam Gamgee/Ron Weasley in this world, and those are always my favorite. I also really loved Natassa. She was the epitome of strong, badass, female lead, but was also sweet and kind. So often the two are mutually exclusive, and I really enjoy seeing them put together into one character. Thank you, Ms. Azizi, I really appreciate this.

One mark of a truly fantastic book is that it stays with you after you’ve finished reading it. It only took me a couple of days to read it, which is impressive at 408 pages. But then, I felt drawn to pick it back up to read more. But there was no more. Boy am I glad it’s the first in a sequel! I will absolutely be grabbing the next one when it comes up! Basically chomping at the bit over here after the cliffhanger Azizi left us with! Gah! Match point, ma’am. Match point!

I am so grateful to have been included in this tour by the author and Love Books Tours. One thing I love about being involved with these tours is that I often take chances on books I might have not done, and this is one of those books. Like I tell myself I’m bad at math (my calculus teacher in high school would argue me down on this one), I try to tell myself I don’t like fantasy. Which is confusing. Among my favorite books growing up were “A Wrinkle in Time,” the entire “Harry Potter” series – like I was a huge Potterhead, and my current favorites include the “Raven Cycle” by Maggie Stiefvater. Those are ALL fantasy. So, I don’t know why I tell myself I don’t like fantasy. All I can say is sometimes humans are weird.

I think Ms. Azizi will take her place next to the bad-ass writers of the genre, and I for one and always excited to see more women joining the ranks. No excuse me while I go update my reading to reflect that maybe I do need to add Sarah J. Maas and Fourth Wing to my reading list. As though that needs to get any longer.

Who’s It For

People who like stories will enjoy this book. If you tell yourself you don’t like fantasy, but you enjoy romance or stories of people overcoming great odds, or you really enjoyed the show “Game of Thrones,” you’ll like this book. If you actually don’t like fantasy – like swords and pretty dresses and queens and kings make you mad, then yeah, don’t read this book. If you’re on the fence about fantasy, this is a great one to read! It is thrilling from the get-go, and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.

Content Warning: Graphic Violence, Adult Situations, Slavery, Kidnapping, Torture, Child Abuse, Murder, Sexual Assault/Harassment, Hateful language toward fake religious/identity groups

About the Author

Israh Azizi resides in the land of ten thousand lakes with her family and five cats. Since she was a little girl she has been a lover of words and fanciful tales. It was her dream to one day share a story of her own with the world. With sheer determination, lots of love, and a decent amount of caffeine, she managed to make that dream come true. Besides reading and writing, she has a dizzying number of hobbies, some of which include bossing around her younger siblings, experimenting with new baking recipes, and playing board games with her family and close friends. When life’s plot twists don’t cross her path and her fingers aren’t dancing across the keyboard building a fantastical adventure, she can usually be found in a quiet corner with a good book and a steaming cup of coffee.

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