28 Oct 2015


Author: Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens #2
Source: ARC from the Author
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Publication Date: November 19, 2015
Rating: 5/5 stars

Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life.

As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, okay. I know I fan girl over this series a lot (since I moderate the GR Fan Club group  as Baldair's One and Only and am a member of the Street Team), but honestly: SO GOOD. This is high fantasy at it's peak, on par with the likes of Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. 

I am here today to describe to you my feelings for this book in words, which is actually quite difficult since a lot of the time I was just making animal noises to describe my feelings while reading. I also made sure this review stayed under 1500 words! Aren't you proud of me?

First things first, if you haven't read my review of the first book, you can do so here. Second, there are spoilers for said book in this review so take that with a grain of salt. Third, read this one at home or in a place that you're chill with having a lot of feelings on display.
Here's just a general thing I dislike about young adult novels: they never seem to have high stakes -- the main character always makes it out alive and so does literally everyone else, except maybe the bad guy. But not here. Kova takes it up a notch and makes you realize that literally anyone could go at any time. This is war people, and she's not afraid to show what the repercussions of this are. And you can even tell through Vhalla's inner monologue how much she is struggling with the aftermath of the Night of Fire and Wind. She isn't just all sunshine and rainbows, she feels horrible and guilty for what she had to do to survive. Which is SO IMPORTANT to me. A lot of the problems I have with YA books that have death and destruction (especially in fantasy) is that there is no fallout or descriptions of the fallout -- the characters seem to be able to go on living life as is with a couple of kills under their belt. But that's not realistic. This is real, this is raw, this is war. (Also, want to torment yourself? Once you read this book, listen to this song and try to place the characters from this series into each of the categories. Elise told me to do that MONTHS ago and I still obsess over it.)

Aldrik shows even more of this guilt than Vhalla does. He is weighted by it not only for the people he himself has killed but also for those that Vhalla had to. He cares so deeply for Vhalla, even if he does not fully realize that for himself right away. I am becoming more okay with their relationship because it is obvious they love one another. I think there is still so much more to learn about Aldrik though and that is what makes me hesitate before throwing caution to the wind and saying that it doesn't matter what happens or has happened, these two are my OTP. *cough*Dani*cough*

The side characters were fleshed out a lot more -- and a lot better -- in this one. We learned more about Larel and Fritz, and Daniel and Craig were back this time too. Plus we were introduced to Elecia, who was by far my favourite out of the side characters. I think as we start to get deeper into the series, there will be even more to learn about these characters as they have to face even more death and difficult tasks ahead. And the characters were all distinct and had such great personalities. I really enjoyed reading about them. They became like friends to me. They are my friends. I need them to be safe.

The world building is immaculate. There are so many different places and things to see in this one. I can only imagine that as we go farther into this world, there will be even more to know and learn about the Solaris Empire and beyond. I think one of the best parts of high, epic fantasies is the world building and Kova's world is up there with the likes of GRRM for me tbh. There is so much more than what we are seeing happening here. I can feel it in my bones. And that makes me want to read and reread these books so that I get an extra layer of that rich, vast world and pick up on things I didn't recognize the first time around.

One thing I feel the need to mention is pacing. For those of you that have read epic fantasies (such as AsoIaF by GRRM and The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan), you will know that Fire Falling (and Air Awakens for that matters) follows the typical high fantasy pacing. Things don't happen all at once, you have to travel to get to different places and things happen during the course of this travelling. There were still some huge plot points that occurred during this book and you needed the little bit of extra travel and training time to have them feel believable and not rushed. It does *feel* a little slow, but where Kova excels is that her writing doesn't feel bogged down with the travelling -- you can tell that the characters are moving along and making good pace, but they still have to travel to get there. 
I thought that the magic in this world was so well developed. Like kudos to Kova for creating a magical system I can actually believe. Because of the Bond and the Joining, it is believable that Vhalla's magic and fighting abilities progressed that quickly. I like that there was more to the Bond than what we were told in Air Awakens. I think since Vhalla is constantly learning about what she can and cannot do, the reader doesn't feel as though there is too much information thrown at us all at once -- as Vhalla learns to do something new, we are seeing something *new*. It makes the story flow and allows Vhalla to develop without the reader feeling as though she is catching up to where we have her abilities placed in our mind. 

Another really big thing to me that I want to mention is that while there is romance in this novel, the story and the plot don't move forward based on this romance. There is (much) more to the plot than whether or not Vhalla loves Aldrik or is starting to make eyes at Daniel. Because while this still does happen, it is easy enough to not focus on this aspect because there is literally a war happening. The characters decision about whether or not to be with one person or the other isn't the central plot here. Just thought I'd let you know, friends!

I have a lot more I could say about this one, but this review is already really long. So I am going to end it here. Just know that if you like epic fantasies in which there is always something more happening behind the scenes than what even the main character knows and can see, then this is the book series for you. If you want to chat with me about it, you can find me on Twitter or in the GR group. I am always more than happy to discuss this book with anyone who wants to chat!

Oh, and before I go, there was a prophecy in this one, so watch for it and jot it down because I think in the next novels it is going to become prominent. 

Also! Update: Aldrik still does not know that Vhalla thought she was trying to save Baldair's life that night. Still anticipating when this will happen. It has to happen, right?

There are 34 (!!!!) status updates on GR. Some of them have quotes from the book and some of them hint that something happens at a specific point in the book. You are MORE THAN WELCOME to view them, but just be warned ahead of time!

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  1. I think I would be a Firebearer like Aldrik and Larel :) I mean... Red is my favourite colour, summer is my favourite season, I love warmth and the whole idea of making armour sounds pretty cool to me (I love being creative).

    1. if you wanted to find out for sure, you could take the quiz: http://elisekova.com/which-air-awakens-affinity-are-you/

    2. After reading the page I would say that I'm definitely a Firebearer with a touch Groundbreaker :)

  2. I love the image you made about Vhaldrik! I have to say I'm on this ship with Dani. I just love every scene they're together in (maybe not the one where he pushes her off the roof by bygones!). I've still got half of FF to go so I only skimmed your review but I am curious for Aldrik's reaction when and if he finds out Vhalla saved him thinking he's Baldir. Will that be important to the story? Lovely review Jamie :D

  3. That graphic dude! AWESOME! And so true, I can recognize every single of my doubts in that one, but I too am just gonna go with it (because, wel, just because, following my gut feeling and all).

  4. I took the quiz and I am a a Waterrunner! I absolutely love Air Awakens so I am super excited for this one! I love your graphic, by the way :)

  5. I'm a Windwalker! And your review just makes me so excited for Fire Falling I just can't ;a; Vhaldrik <3

  6. Your review made me realize that I finally have to get the first book of this series, so I can love the series as much as you do. I love your graphics, Jamie! :) Great review :D

    The giveaway is probably not open international, right? ;)

  7. When I took the quiz I got Waterrunner which honestly wasn't a surprise. I probably would have wanted to be a Waterrunner anyways. Then I could BFFs with Fritz.

  8. What a great review, I love to read your thoughts about the novel. It changes my mind and I will download eBook copy for me to read the whole story of the novel.


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