The first review for Freed by Flame and Storm is in… and it’s great! And while not exactly spoilery, it does drop some pretty heavy hints about what’s to come…

A former slave must choose between vengeance, mercy, and justice in the conclusion of the epic fantasy duology that began with Bound by Blood and Sand (2016).

After much struggle and sacrifice, Jae mastered her elemental magic and ended the drought ravaging her desert realm. Now she and Elan, forswearing his once-exalted status, seek to destroy the Curse enslaving the Closest caste. But their newfound allies demand nothing less than overthrowing the rule of the Highest—including Elan’s beloved sister Erra. Allen’s return to this stark fantasy world tackles tough issues: power and privilege, order and freedom, trust and loyalty, the use and abuse of history. The clean, spare prose does not shy away from violence (including rape) intrinsic to the rigid social hierarchy, but it also portrays a culture without discrimination based on race (every character is variously “brown”), gender, or sexual orientation. Jae’s character—bitter, grieving, weary, striving for compassion, but ferociously committed to freedom—dominates the narrative. Elan remains generous, supportive, and sensitive, especially to Jae’s conflicted response to his romantic hopes. Honest and conscientious Erra may be the chief antagonist but is in no way a villain. Message never overwhelms story; as rising tensions, stakes, and casualties all hurtle toward a seemingly inevitable bloody catastrophe, only astonishing (and reciprocal) demonstrations of contrition and compromise permit a fragile but hopeful reconciliation to emerge.

Much food for thought and discussion; but above all, a gripping read.

Woohoo!! Freed won’t be out for a few months yet (December 12! Mark your calendar!) but you can add it to Goodreads now, and with a review like that, I’m sure you’ll want to pre-order it at Amazon or B&N or IndieBound.

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