This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using that link, a small commission is made from the sale. There are no additional costs to you. Thank you for your support!Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
Rise of the Empress #2
Published by Philomel Books on November 6, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Young Adult
This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels.
Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as Empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn't want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the Empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?
Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won't soon forget.
Fans of Stealing Snow, Red Queen, and The Wrath and the Dawn will hungrily devour this page-turning read.
I can’t believe I’ve had my review for Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix sitting in drafts since June. Although I don’t know why I’m mentioning this because I have content and reviews since November 2018. Will they eventually publish? Maybe? We’ll find out, bookwyrms. Or maybe I’ll never mention it again. What they don’t find out, they won’t know… 🤔
If there’s anything I like from Forest of a Thousand Lanterns other than the writing and world, it’s how delightfully evil Xifeng is.
When I picked up the sequel, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, I just wanted to know how this story will end rather than “I WANT MORE.”
After all, villains meet one end only in fiction.
I love my characters dark and ruthless sometimes, but Forest of a Thousand Lanterns just didn’t hit the mark. The first novel focuses a lot on the journey Xifeng takes to the palace and I found myself frequently drawn away from the slow pacing of the story. That certainly didn’t stop me from diving headfirst into Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix though.
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is much better than the first novel.
The sequel to Dao’s debut novel is set 18 years later, told in Princess Jade’s perspective. Xifeng is ruling as the evil empress of Feng Lu and Jade has been sent away to grow up in a monastery until she receives a note summoning her back to the palace.
She’s not interested in going back to the palace, though, and would much rather stay at the monastery she’s called home. But do we really want an evil queen when you have the power and right to overthrow her? Probably not. Like Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Dao takes readers on a journey as Jade sets off to prove her worth as the heir and take on Xifeng.
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is action-packed and Dao’s writing really grows.
The sequel is filled with so many stories, which I think adds to the world and captures the attention of readers. Dao’s writing really grows through the stories she tells, and I love seeing how the different versions all tie together in some way in Jade’s journey.
Likewise, I can see how some may find the sequel a major disappointment – the quest felt a little too easy for how long Xifeng has her hold as the Empress, and we take some time at the palace before the journey sets off. But it’s not as long as nearly half the book in Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. However, I still enjoyed Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix more, and I’m delighted to see what stories Dao come up with next.