Goodreads// 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.
Crown of Flames is the first installment in a YA fantasy trilogy set in a land marred by war and a bloody, fiery history of civil war and phoenix riders.
Crown of Feathers is a character-driven story. We see this world from Veronyka’s optimistic and creative mindset, Tristan’s more knowledgeable and realistic, and Sev’s more fearful and bleak outlook. The Golden Empire is an unfair, oppressive place, and poverty and violence are commonplace. But it wasn’t always like this. When the phoenix rider queens ruled, the world was a better place, but it became a corrupted, power-hungry government, and the murder of a king and queen led to a tragic civil war…
The magical system was super cool! There are three types of magic in this world, essentially. Phoenixes (more or less in the traditional sense of the myth); animages – people with the power to communicate and/or influence animals; and shadowmages – a rare type of magic that allows people to read other’s thoughts/emotions and control minds. The political conflict of this world is intrinsically connected to animages and phoenixes; they were the main heroes in the past and they are the most oppressed now.
I loved Veronyka! She’s so hopeful, open-minded, and optimistic; she constantly chooses the right thing to do and works twice as hard as anyone else to get what she wants. She’s had a rough time growing up in poverty and with an abusive, controlling sister like Val, but she hasn’t let that break her or turn her into an uncaring person.
Now, Tristan’s perspective felt a bit unnecessary to be completely honest since he was often in the same space and scenes as Veronyka. Sev, on the other hand, lived in an entirely different world, so to speak, and his perspective offered a lot more valuable input and was, in general, pretty interesting. He was bleak, cowardly, and definitely had survivor’s guilt, but he also felt realistic and relatable. (I’d probably be like Sev in this world…)
Now, let me tell you about what I disliked about this book.
The main problem was the information snippets that became too much and started affecting the pacing. Every other chapter there was an excerpt of history, or mythology, or an old epic poem related to this world. It was often useful and relevant to the story, particularly in the beginning, but it also got boring and irritating after a while, and it really impacted the pacing of the story.
And I hated that Veronyka had to dress and pose as a boy to join the Phoenix Riders. In the history of this culture, phoenix riders were originally women and this used to be a matriarchal society, so this just doesn’t make any sense.
I don’t have anything, in particular, to say about the writing style and I didn’t notice it at all when I was reading it (in a negative or positive way).
Overall, Crown of Feathers was a very fun young adult fantasy with a great magical system and main characters that I really enjoyed regardless of its flaws!