Joint Review – Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #2) by Amanda Bouchet

Reviewed by E & Has

“Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a girl to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or not at all.

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

Has: Breath of Fire is the followup to one of the break out books and authors, Amanda Bouchet that I read last year. Ever since I finished the first book, Promise of Fire, I kept haunting Edelweiss and Netgalley for the sequel because I really enjoyed the characters and the world that Amanda Bouchet created.

Breath of Fire opens up a day or so after the events from the first book, and opens up with an emotional bang. I loved the romance which I felt was the highlight of the series, however despite the differences that Cat and Griffin worked on, she still holds a big secret about her linage that may tear them apart and that is uncovered within the first few pages of this book. I found this to be a bit abrupt and wished there was some lead up because the resolution to this was resolved too quickly especially in context to how Griffin reacted to the news. However as the story progressed with Cat and her team were finding ways to cement their stronghold in Sinta, the plot ran more smoothly, although it did make me dislike Griffin for a few chapters.

E: Like Has I absolutely loved Promise of Fire so the events in the first couple of chapters almost stopped my heart and made it impossible for me to concentrate on anything else. Also like Has I wish there had been a bit more transition between that emotional punch, Griffin’s reaction to things, and their relationship smoothing over. In other words, I think Griffin needed to do some significant groveling equal to the level of the fit he threw (which was impressive). I also wish I could have seen more of a transition with Griffin’s family but all of that aside, Breath of Fire started with a bang and never really let up. Once the Beta team was back together it seemed like things were moving along smoothly but I have some concerns regarding certain members of the inner circle.

Has: Yes! I definitely agree with you about the transition scenes especially in the beginning with Griffin and Cat’s big misunderstanding. I also felt in some places in the book, there was rushed or confusing change of locations which had no lead up or transitional scenes to show this. And I think you nailed it on the head about lack of grovelling about Griffin and his meltdown towards Cat, which was a big thing and that resolution was tied up way too quickly. She forgave him way too easily and he needed to grovel with bells and whistles on.

But I think once the story got going to find help to shore up the defenses for the kingdom, the pacing and plot had a better flow. I loved the setting of the labyrinth and its trials as well as the creatures they encountered which incorporated elements of Greek and Roman mythology which I really enjoyed and it was definitely a highlight of this series.

E: I agree, once Cat and Griffin had a definite goal the story pacing was smoother. I have a huge weakness for Greek and Roman mythology so seeing the very diverse ways they were blended and incorporated made me a happy reader. I also loved the interference of various Gods and Goddesses even through Cat had to work for assistance. She struggled with the messages they were sending her so even though she had their favor, it wasn’t like she was the perfect person, the supreme being.

I felt for Cat because she tried so hard to keep both herself and those around her safe yet it appeared as if at every turn there was a huge blinking arrow pointing at her and highlighting who she was. At the same time, those around her refused to stay away and if anything clung closer and insisted that she remain in close proximity. She also learned some harsh lessons about the cost of leadership, decision making, and the impossibility of doing everything alone and (un)afraid. On a few occasions I was worried she would break one of her freely given and growing number of oaths during a moment of panic but thankfully she never repeated that mistake.

Has: The mythology and magical system of this world is fantastic and I wished there was more fantasy and paranormal romance would use elements like this because Amanda Bouchet has created a wonderful take on it. I especially loved the trials and tests that Cat and her team undertakes which reflects similar myths like Hercules and Jason and add a strong romance overtone, this becomes one very cracky and engaging read.

I really felt that the climactic scenes towards the end of the book which involved the gladiatorial type style games was heightened with tension but also full of imagination which had a very creepy undertone. I am not a fan of spiders but after reading a major fight with those creepy crawlies (and I had chills down my spine and not the good way) reading that scene was very memorable and chilling. There was also a few niggles and I won’t venture into spoilers but I felt a death of a minor character was rushed and again like the beginning there should have been more lead up to make the impact more emotional for the plot and for the other characters. But I did like how another character came into her own and showed a different side of her.

E: I agree. The gladiator type scenes were very well done and showed an extremely vivid imagination. If you don’t like spiders I recommend skipping one of the bouts. I also agree with the death of a certain character while it served to illustrate a certain point, I think the emotional punch could have been stronger with a slightly different execution.

Bouchet included some unexpected twists towards the end which have set things up in a rather intriguing way for the next book. I am very curious to hear what one particular character has to say as well as seeing what if anything develops between some other characters given certain events. I am deliberately being vague to avoid spoilers because I think the discovery of these items is part of the fun of this story unfolding.

Has: While I had issues with transitional scenes, lack of grovelling from Griffin (bad Griffin) which made me feel that it had a rough beginning, I did enjoy Breath of Fire. It was full of imagination and brilliant and tense battle scenes which had me on tenterhooks. I also loved the quieter as well as the hot ones between Griffin and Cat and their romance is firmly rooted as a solid couple and team and I really liked the twists and turns especially at the end involving certain secondary characters which I hope will take front seat in future books. Overall, this was a solid sequel albeit with certain issues and flaws but the romance and the vibrant and imaginative battle and trial set pieces makes up for it. I can’t wait to see the conclusion and the big confrontation between Cat and the Alpha Fisa!

I give Breath of Fire a B-

E: Breath of Fire was an enjoyable read not quite at the same level of Promise of Fire but certainly not a filler story. As Has and I both mentioned earlier we struggled with some of the emotional transitions, especially the ones designed to evoke grief or sadness. Either the shift in was rough or the aftermath/reaction was missing something. That aside Bouchet continues to flesh out her vivid and complicated world. Cat started really learning what it meant to be part of the world instead of separate and how complicated caring for others really is. She also learned that while free choice exists, her choices have led her along a certain path resulting in her life not really being just hers. Griffin on the other hand also struggled with caring for someone who refused to just comply with his every wish and instead did her own thing while spreading independence to others. He knew/understood leadership to a certain extent and certainly warfare but he didn’t have the political acumen to keep the other families off balance and therefore he needed Cat in multiple ways.

I am really looking forward to seeing what happens with Cat, Griffin, and their allies in the next installment as well as what interference will come from the Gods and Goddesses. I hope Bouchet can maintain the high bar she has set not just in this series but in whatever she decides to write next. It would be lovely to have another author on my list of auto-buys.

I also give Breath of Fire a B-

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