I had a sister, once…
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.
I promised her the throne would not come between us.
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.
But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.
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.
Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.
I thought this was an okay read, but I enjoyed some parts of it more than others which is sometimes the case for me with books that have multiple POV. I don’t think it was a bad book, but it also didn’t bring anything new to the table for me. The phoenixes were cool, but they might as well have been dragons for all intents and purposes. I did appreciate a lot of what this was trying to do, even though nothing stood out for me as particularly amazing. There are so many new fantasy books coming out these days, maybe it’s just hard to stand out from the pack? Not sure.
The characters are always the most important thing in a book for me. Nine times out of ten if I don’t care about the characters then the book just can’t hold my interest. Unfortunately, that’s what happened here. I did like Veronyka and she’s our main POV character here–a girl who so desperately wants to be a phoenix rider that she sneaks into the riders camp pretending to be a boy with the hopes of working her way up to rider from mucking out the phoenix pens. Despite liking her character, however, I still felt at a distance from her in a lot of ways. Maybe it’s because she keeps things so close to the vest that it felt hard to get in her head space and really empathize with her. I did enjoy the relationship between her and Tristan, one of the phoenix riders, as well–their growing friendship, seeing each of their characters grow in ways as they got to know one another better–that was fun and satisfying to watch develop. Still, there was just something that never really crossed that bridge fully for me with the characters. The third POV, Sev, his story line just didn’t hold my interest all that much until near the end when the action ramped up.
Structurally, this was a strange one to listen to in audio. There are multiple POV which switch around depending on the chapter, which isn’t hard to keep up with. But, in addition to that, there is sort of a book / prophecy / history story that is being told in between the chapters as well. Honestly, this structure just didn’t work for me. Maybe it would have worked better in print, but in audio it made for a confusing read. But I’m not even going to say it was all the audio since some of the story lines held my interest more than others and I feel like it would have been that way in print as well. I feel like, for me at least, this also made the pacing feel uneven.
Overall this was a good read, if a little bit forgettable for me. I didn’t dislike this book at all, but it felt very average to me. Then again, that’s just me. If you like the idea of phoenix riders this might just be the book for you! 3/5 stars.