Revolution is nigh, and one girl stands at the head of it all.
Jae used to be a slave, laboring with the rest of her people under a curse that forced her to obey any order she was given. At seventeen years old, she became the only person to break free—ever. She alone found magic. Now she wants to use her power to free the rest of her people, but the ruling class will do anything to stop her.
Jae knows that breaking the curse on her people would cause widespread chaos, even unimaginable violence between the castes, and her caste would likely see the worst of it. Many would die. But to let them remain shackled is to doom them to continue living without free will.
How is one girl, raised a slave and never taught to wield responsibility or power, supposed to decide the fate of a nation? She will have to start a revolution and find out.
Freed by Flame and Storm completes Jae’s story.
Content warnings: violence, PTSD.
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. … 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.
After discovering her inherent magic, Jae, a former slave in the Closest caste, broke free of the curse that
oppressed and suppressed her people in Bound by Blood and Sand (2016). Now she must forge ahead with a dangerous plan to free her people, secure the kingdom’s magical well, and defeat the nefarious Highest, who rule the world. With the help of members of the Order of the Elements, who work against the Highest, and former-Avowed Elan, Jae mounts a revolution. Being thrust into a position of power is uncomfortable for Jae, but she accepts that, despite her own shortcomings, she is the one person on whom thousands of people now rely. The beauty of this final entry of Allen’s duology lies in the fact that though revolution means war, every lost Closest life decreases the magic binding the well. Grappling with this knowledge, Jae must carefully find a way to balance leadership with mercy. The action of this memorable story is fast and furious, its challenges many, and the fight for right ever-present.
School Library Journal:
[…] Jae is setting out to free her people from the same curse that she escaped in the previous volume. She travels to the capital cities with her companion Elan, who was disavowed by his own father after learning the truth that Jae’s people, not his own, were responsible for crafting the Well. They are joined by a faction of free folk called the Order, who wish to see magic brought back to the world, and the ruling caste eliminated. After Jae succeeds in lifting the curse, several violent and bloody battles ensue. This story continues with an unflinchingly honest discussion of slavery and rape. … Despite the violence, there is a happy ending. VERDICT A satisfying sequel that wraps up tidily. Recommended for libraries where the first installment was popular.