Jeffe Kennedy’s The Fiery Crown, the next installment of The Forgotten Empires Triology, offers the second course in her aesthetically rich tale of romance and intrigue. The story picks up a week after the ending of The Orchid Throne [this review may contain spoilers for book 1 The Orchid Throne – read first before continuing]. While the marriage of Queen Euthalia and Conri was initially an arranged alliance for strategic purposes, they have quickly found that their sexual chemistry is slowly prying open the iron doors of their hearts. This budding connection is disconcerting for Lia and Con, who have kept their true thoughts and emotions hidden deep within carefully crafted facades, and concerning in that any personal attactments might derail their long plotted plans. The marriage also accelerates the trajectory of their inevitable collision with the ruthless Emperor, who has vowed to stop at nothing to claim Euthalia, the last true ruler of the land, as his own and utterly destroy the slave king and his rebellion.
Jeffe lays out a sensual and intriguing feast for the imagination in both the plot-line and presentation of each book in the series. Feasts are an age old tradition that one author describes as the consumption of an elaborate meal that many times includes entertainment. They are usually brought out in courses with each more impressive than the last. The Fiery Crown gives the reader a heart racing story with its building conflict as well as the blossoming sexual relationship between Lia and Con. Each book, chapter, and page builds the world and characters into a delightful experience. Jeffe’s artistic skill in painting word pictures captivates your imagination with epic visions on a grand scale. She wields words like the wind; one minute it might be a gentle breeze caressing your check and the next a raging storm that scatters branches across the yard. I found myself going back and rereading her wordsmithing out of pure admiration for the craftsmanship she displays. The Fiery Crown is so thoroughly captivating and entertaining, you will have a hard time putting it down once you start.
Normally, I prefer books over movies as a way to experience a story. I love being privy to the intimate thoughts of characters and I have a vivid enough imagination that I love to come up with my own mental renderings of the people and places. However, I would love to see The Forgotten Empires series presented on the big screen in the style of The Lord of the Rings cinematography. Queen Euthalia’s elaborate and refined image and her carefully orchestrated tropical island court juxtaposed with Con’s untamed and raw masculinity in a tale of passion and vengeance would make for a truly captivating movie.