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Sunday, September 30, 2018

'Breath of Fire' The Kingmaker Chronicles #2 by Amanda Bouchet

From the BLURB:
In a land where magic is might, Catalia Fisa is the mightiest of them all . . .

Catalia Fisa, Lost Princess, has been running from destiny her whole life. Yet deep down, she has always believed that the prophecy shadowing her every step is inescapable: her unimaginable power will bring unfathomable disaster.

But now her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. Although it may be that this, even with all her power, is still the one battle she cannot win, Cat's determined not to go down without a fight.

As the realms descend into all-out war, Cat knows she must embrace the power at her command. With Griffin by her side and Gods willing, perhaps she can emerge victorious in this fiery forging of a new Kingdom.

‘Breath of Fire’ is the second book in American author Amanda Bouchet’s fantasy romance trilogy, ‘The Kingmaker Chronicles’ released in 2017.

Right, so – going on from my epic re-read of first book ‘A Promise of Fire’, I delved right into the second book that had been sitting on my shelf for a year and a bit.

The best way I can describe ‘The Kingmaker Chronicles’ is to say it’s kind of OUTLANDER with Greek Mythology, for fans of Nalini Singh and Thea Harrison. And something Bouchet does very well is continuing the epic journey and launching readers right back into the world with a BANG! … second book ‘Breath of Fire’ tidies up the cliff-hanger left at the end of Book 1 almost immediately in chapter one, and then the rest of the book is in service of the problems/opportunities Cat’s truth brings.

And while the second-half of book 1 ‘A Promise of Fire’ saw Cat settling into kingdom life with Griffin and his family, Bouchet recognises that a big drawcard of book 1 was the camaraderie of Cat with the ‘Beta Team’ trio of soldiers who became her friends – Carver, Kato and Flynn – and the unique heated opportunities that travelling bought for her and Griffin.

So pretty quickly in ‘Breath’, Bouchet sets up a new expedition for Cat and the Beta Team (of which she is now a member) to go off on. This is also a salve, because it’s in travelling across lands and encountering mythological monsters and Olympus Gods that Bouchet’s series also harks back to the best of cult classic television ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ and ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’ … though I will say – Bouchet’s series could have done with a lot more LGBT+ representation, which I constantly thought was coming but never really eventuated. For one, I thought this might have been Carver’s storyline – instead there’s literally *one* throwaway sentence that comes to reveal Griffin’s sister, and crowned Queen, Egeria is in a relationship with a woman. This was overall just a thorn in my side with the series because for one thing, it would have fit in with the universe perfectly and because there are such strong ‘Xena’ ties, it seems almost cruel to dangle that similarity but not the heart that made that show so iconic? Anyway.

‘Breath of Fire’ in a lot of ways, manages to do better than even book one in gifting readers more insight into the secondary characters we’ve come to know and love, in soldiers Flynn, Kato and Carver. These three become so much sharper and more complicated, and readers will start seeing possibilities for spin-offs for how full and lovingly developed they are in here.

Cat and Griffin though, remain the stars – and their romance continues to be a new highlight of the fantasy romance genre. To a degree there’s repetition in their storyline (fighting monsters – Cat putting herself in danger, Griffin getting upset and asking her not to do that) but at the same time, it does feel like Cat and their relationship is constantly evolving as she learns to love for the first time in a long time. And they remain hot as anything, which is the other drawcard of the series – the exquisite blazing hot romance.

The other highlight of this book too is the increased presence of the Gods and Goddesses of Greek Mythology … Ares, Artemis, Persephone and more make appearances and a truly remarkable new secondary casting.


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