Grace Draven is a master storyteller, and she amply rewards her readers in Phoenix Unbound with a thrilling tale of love and redemption. The pervasive Krael Empire is monstrous, brutal to its citizens and permissive to its privileged. Two of the Empire’s victims—the fascinating witch Gilene and the bold gladiator Azarion—plot to escape their horrific destinies. Unfortunately to succeed, they must team up to elude their fates. Anything but friends, each complements the other, their combined strengths greater than their individual talents. Azarion and Gilene are outstanding characters—fierce in their loyalties, determined in their struggles, valiant in their pursuits of freedom. The qualities they share bring them harmony with one another and, eventually, the realization that they care deeply for each other. Though unachievable scenarios abound, as they work together, they manage to surmount terrible obstacles. The swift-moving fantasy illuminates a world filled with marvelous detail—from the deadly dangers of berry picking to the divine horsemanship of the Savatar race—profound love, and astonishing adventure. Filled with action, romance, and laughter (though the novel is a dark one), Ms. Draven supplies a powerfully satisfying ending, as well as leaving us lusting for more in the series. I can’t wait.