BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT + REVIEW: Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

 Long live Solaris.
One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire.

Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

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About the Author

Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she s not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

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Exclusive Excerpt

With just the one weapon and a leather jerkin, she struck a course northward. Given all the reports she’d been receiving, it seemed like the most logical location for her Emperor. A red sunrise streaked across the sky, mirroring the crimson land before her.
The casualties had been heavy, heavier than she expected given the number of soldiers who had been in the Western force surrounding the city. But the hulking corpses of giant winged beasts offered a chilling explanation. Teeth longer than her body jutted out from their massive jowls. They had almost canine-like heads but with thick leathery skin pulled taut against oddly shaped muscles. Some had two arms, some had four, one even had six. They had the wings of a wyvern and scorpion-like tails. It was a creature that the Gods had never intended to exist, and the now-dormant crystals embedded in their bodies glinted like dull obsidian in the sunlight, slowly cracking into dust.
A handful of men and women were surrounded, forced to their knees. Soldiers waited around them, sorcerers and Commons alike, ready to execute the traitors who had ridden in to kill them all on the backs of monsters. The lean figure of a man was mounted before the lot—an Emperor casting judgment on those who fought against his throne.
“. . . forsake the false king.” Vhalla could hear Aldrik’s words as she approached. “Those who give information will be rewarded with their lives.”
No one spoke.
“You protect a coward,” Vhalla called out, announcing her presence. Aldrik turned in surprise as she rode up next to him. “You stand with a man whose power comes not through his own merit—as he would have you believe—but through theft.”
“What would you know?” one of the kneeling sorcerers demanded, curiosity drawing the words from him.
“I know all too well,” Vhalla replied quietly, “because I was the one whose powers he stole.”
Now she had their attention.
“Victor could not open the caverns on his own; he wasn’t strong enough to manage the crystals. I know because he needed me to help him do it. When he had what he wanted, he stole my magic to make him immune from the taint.”
“Lies!” one sneered. “The taint only affects those of weak will, Commons, and lesser sorcerers.”
Desperation carved the way for stupidity in the hearts of men.
“You can’t possibly believe that. Is that what Victor has told you? That you are the strong ones and immune?” She shook her head with a bitter sorrowful laugh. “He has written you off as expendable with his lies.”
“Are you really the Windwalker?” a timid voice asked from among them.
“I was.” Vhalla spoke only to the man who had asked. “I was the Windwalker until he stole my powers. Now I am a Commons. It was my magic that unleashed this monster upon the world—”
“Vhalla . . .” Aldrik had a cautionary note.
“—but because of that, no one will fight harder than me to do what is necessary to right that wrong.” The words hurt. They hurt like the wind still hurt on her cheeks, plain and un-magical. But it was finally the right kind of hurt. The hurt of a confession that needed to be said. “This is but a night. The sun will rise again, and I stand with the dawn.”
She looked to the Emperor. His eyes were a chameleon over the past few weeks, constantly changing to match the woman she was becoming.
“Who will stand with the sun?” He tore his eyes away from her to make his final demand.
The man who had asked his timid question stood slowly. “A false king sits on a false throne.”
“You disgrace sorcerers,” another loyalist spat. “You’ll follow a liar and a Commons.”
“Strength channels its own magic,” the man said in reply, looking directly at Vhalla.
“Who else will stand with us?” Vhalla demanded.
Two more stood.
“Why take pity on them?” a Western soldier finally spoke. “They fight against your Empire. Put them to death.”
“Because a wise woman taught me that no soul is beyond saving,” Aldrik replied easily.
Vhalla’s chest tightened, instantly thinking of Larel.
“Those who stand with us, live; those who do not, die. Make your choice. Dawn comes and it will wait for no man.” Aldrik turned back to Victor’s sorcerers.
Two more stood, five in total. That was all who were spared. Vhalla bore a silent witness to the other sorcerers who died for Victor’s ideal. Men and women who had become so tainted with his lies that they valued his dogma more than their lives.
Vhalla counted every man and woman put to death. Twenty-three in total. She shifted in her saddle and felt the sword pulling heavy on her shoulder. The next time she saw Victor she would stab him herself, Vhalla resolved, twenty-three times.

"What are we fighting for?" Vhalla closed her eyes for a moment but all she saw was blood. Blood of her allies. Blood of her enemies. Enough blood to drown in ten times over.
"What will be left when the wars are done?"

Out of the five books in this series this one is probably the one with the most bittersweet mood and in more ways than one. Crystal Crowned is the last book in the Air Awakened series, this series has put me through the emotional ringer from the very beginning but the last book surpassed all 4 of the previous books put together. This is the book where everything all fans of this series have been waiting for happens, Aldrik and Vhalla finally cement their relationship with marriage. No more threats to them being together, no more questioning whether or not they really are meant to be together. Although I never questioned their relationship is was tough at times, and the amount of angst I have experienced while reading this series was deliciously excruciating.

Although Vhalla and Aldrik are finally together, there's a lot that threatens their relationship. Victor who showed himself as their greatest enemy in the previous book grows stronger and more tainted with the power he wields with the crystals. One thing that probably killed me the most in the previous book was Vhalla losing her powers, I mean in the beginning she didn’t even want them. She even thought to eradicate her powers, but as the books came and the story progressed they became the very essence of her being. One other thing her’s and Aldrik bond being severed, that gutted me beyond repair. What more could the Mother throw in Vhalla’s way, was it some kind of test?

Her friends had become her keepers. Her husband was now overseer before being her lover. They were reduced to handlers, pushing her from one place to the next.

In Crystal Crowned as with the previous books, Vhalla’s character growth is astounding. She is the future empress, and as we all know Vhalla adapts and that’s what she did. I’ll confess that at times I did question the intensity of Aldrik’s love for Vhalla because he was one moment aloof and the next moment kneeling at her feet telling her how much he cherished her and I’m so glad that he maintained and even proved that his love for Vhalla will never fade.

This book was action packed, emotionally gripping and a worthy ending to this awesome series. When I think back to when I started this series I wish I could go back to my old self and tell myself to brace because this was one wild ride.

Long live the Emperor and Empress of Solaris.

ARC kindly provided by author in return for an honest review


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