THE FIERY CROWN – Jeffe Kennedy
The Forgotten Empire series – Book 2
St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN-13: 978-1-250-19433-6
ISBN-10: 1-250-19433-4
May 26, 2020

The Island of Calanthe

Queen Euthalia of Calanthe, or Lia as her new husband Conri calls her, wears the magical orchid ring, also known as the abiding ring. The ring has literally become a part of her body and lets her sense all life and conditions on Calanthe. She knows she must prevent any violent bloodshed on the island because beneath the land sleeps the ancient monster Calanthe. Such violence might wake the monster which will destroy the island. Lia captured and then chose to marry Con, the King of Slaves, as he may be Calanthe's only hope to protect the kingdom from destruction by Anure, the Emperor of All the Known World. With his weapon of Vergesten, a mineral that changes into fire, Anure's armies have destroyed and conquered all other kingdoms except Calanthe. Before his death, Euthalia's father arranged an engagement between her and the emperor as a protection for Calanthe. Since her marriage to Conri, Anure writes her threatening messages of what he will do to her.

Con was formerly known as Prince Conri of Oriel. Lia now calls him Conri as an honorific of royal status. When Anure conquered the kingdom or Oriel, he sent Conri and his father the king to the Vurgmum mines where the weapon Vergesten is mined. His father died there, and the mineral's toxins damaged Con's voice and skin, but he escaped and is now a formidable warrior with an army of other escaped slaves. His wizard Ambrose, now proclaimed a Wizard of Calanthe by Lia, made the prediction: ‘Take the tower of the sun, claim the hand that wears the abiding ring, and the empire falls.' He believes he has completed the first two parts of the prediction…but most prediction are open to interpretation.

While both Conri and Lia agreed to their marriage, it is a contentious one in most aspects except in their physical allure to each other and carrying out its gratification. Otherwise each has their own opposing goals and secrets, and neither trusts the other. Con wants to destroy Anure and his power above everything. Lia wants to ensure Calanthe's preservation and safety. Slowly with much confrontation, they reach a mutual plan to defeat the emperor, but many ifs, ands, or buts are involved which makes it very risky, and the mysterious Ambrose also seems to have a hidden agenda. Conri suspects and warns Lia that Anure wants her even more than he does Calanthe.

It is very helpful to have read THE ORCHID THRONE before reading this volume. THE FIERY CROWN presents an imaginative trip into a unique fantasy world.

Robin Lee