A slow burn you should rush to read!
Daughter of the Drowned Empire Book Cover Daughter of the Drowned Empire
Drowned Empire
Frankie Diane Mallis
Seven Queens Press
28 Jan. 2022
Ebook, paperback, hardback, audiobook

Cleopatra meets Throne of Glass in this stunning debut fantasy. 19-year-old mage Lady Lyriana Batavia is third in line to the Seat of Power in Bamaria: a position of wealth and privilege, but not safety. Bamaria falls under the rule of the Lumerian Empire, survivors of a celestial war whose island sank in the Drowning. Now all Lumerians submit to the Emperor and his strict laws about magic. He decides what magic can be practiced and what powers remain forbidden. He decides who will die for possession of forbidden magic. Lyr’s own cousin was executed for wielding the wrong kind. And for years, Lyr has sworn to protect her older sisters, helping them conceal their own illicit magic. But when Lyr must participate in the ceremony that reveals her power, she uncovers something else entirely. Something that means banishment from the Empire. Faced with death in exile, and leaving her sisters behind, Lyr has no choice but to accept a deadly contract. She has seven months to train as a warrior and pass the Emperor’s brutal test of strength—all without magic. But when she’s forced to train with Lord Rhyan Hart, the man she’s secretly loved since she was a girl—a feared warrior in exile himself, forbidden to her in every way—she’s in danger of losing far more than her family, life, and country. Rebel forces, and an invading army, are destabilizing Bamaria, just as her family’s secrets threaten to reveal themselves. Surviving the training, and saving her sisters may mean sacrificing her own heart.

This book was provided in exchance for an honest review graphic

Frankie Diane Mallis wastes zero time throwing you into the deep end with Daughter of the Drowned Empire. Things genuinely hit the fan within the first chapter, and I loved it right off the bat. This book was an absolute feast of political intrigue and slow-burn romance and I’m ecstatic that I’ve still got a beefy series to work through. 

“You choose. You can let what the others think about you be right, you can let your guilt and shame hold you down, or you can decide your fate, assert the strength you do have, become stronger than ever before. But you have to claim it. And when you do, you can be freer than a seraphim. Stronger than a gryphon. No ropes can hold you. No cage can trap you.”

All Lumerian citizens have their magic bound at birth until they turn nineteen and pledge themselves to one of the two university paths: mage or soturion (a magic-fueled warrior). The only catch is if when unbound your magic turns out to be one of the three forbidden kinds you’ll be executed (Whomp whomp). As an heir to power, Lyr should be living an easy life of political comfort. Instead, she’s fighting every day to keep her family safe. Her two older sisters both manifested forbidden magic that left them crippled by pain and madness. Though they managed to conceal their state, Lyr does everything she can to tend to her sisters while also tending to the public’s perception of her family. If anyone were to discover the truth they’d lose a lot more than just their political standing.

It cannot be undersold how skilled Mallis is when it comes to world-building. This series already has a richly built-out social landscape and a society steeped in so much history that everything is dripping in context. That being said, fear not the quicksand that is overly detailed exposition. Mallis takes a no-nonsense approach providing readers with several appendices to define terms and flesh out meaning if you’ve missed a pesky context clue along the way. I’ll admit that I did seriously question my ability to read for a hot second there before I discovered those blessed appendices.

I love how beautifully complex Lyr is. You’re able to see so much juxtaposition between who she presents to the public, who she thought she’d be, and now who she needs to be to survive. Her struggle with holding all these pieces of herself is so engaging. I’m eager to see how this character will be able to grow and change throughout this series. That was the overarching theme for my experience of this book: I’m so excited to see where she takes this (give or take a few ‘Oh my gosh’s). There are so many elements that scream of some absolutely sick sequel potential. Also just a general public service announcement that Rhyan is catnip for anyone who loves a gorgeous, protective love interest who respects the hell out the FMC.

“Because three years later, I still feel the taste of your lips on mine. Because I can’t forget you, the way your body felt against mine, the way your scent wrapped around me. Because I think about that kiss all the time. Because I dream about you at night. Because, if I kiss you now, if I get one more taste, you’ll consume me.”

I’m not going to tell you that Frankie Diane Mallis has great things coming, though she definitely does. She’s already done great things. Face meltingly awesome, geek out, and try to convince the cashier to read it level great things. The Drowned Empire is going to be a fantasy series for the ages and everyone should be told. Tell your friends. Tell your grandparents. Circle back, and really double down with that cashier until they listen or you are forcibly removed from the store. Anyway, I’m just gushing now so I’ll wrap up. I loved this book and fully intend to wallow in this series until it’s a personality trait.