No one could ever have imagined that one of the Highest, the ruling class, would ever work with a Closest - but that is exactly what is happening. Jae was born into the Closest, the lowest caste of society, considered to be traitors and generations later they are still paying that price. Elan was born into the Highest, the ruling caste, and he has discovered that everything he thought he knew was a lie, and if he and Jae don't work together then their world is doomed. Jae has freed her mage powers, and has plans to free the rest of the Closest from their slavery, no matter what it costs her personally - and Elan has thrown his complete support behind her, because now he knows the truth he is willing to make his own sacrifices to save his world.
Convincing others to believe their story is only part of the problem, generations of lies and secrets has lead to mistrust of the Closest, and when the Highest have control of the Twill and Avowed Jae and the Closest have a massive fight on their hands. Jae and Elan are not the only ones fighting for what they believe in, and when Erra discovers that she is the one person in her generation who has to protect her people she takes the responsibility seriously - even though it means that she has to keep her beloved brother at arms length. Elan is determined to reach out to his sister, but with lies and secrets flying all around them will he be able to convince her that his truth is the real truth? A war is coming and the winners will decide the fate of their world, and with both sides thinking they are in the right desperate people will be pushed to desperate action.
Freed by flame and storm was one of the books I was really looking forward to reading in 2017, but I didn't get my hands on it in time so it was one of my first books for 2018 instead. I was expecting great things from Freed by flame and storm and it is a relief to say that I was not disappointed, as Allen closes her story arc in a way that is both satisfying and rewarding. Jae stays true to her character throughout the story, growing and developing as she learns to be free and learns what it means to be a leader. Elan also changes and grows, learning how to leave behind the trappings of being a Highest while also learning how to stand up for what he believes in. The rest of the cast of characters that support the story are also realistic and relatable - lovable, engaging, or reviled in turn.
This duology has been an amazing read, and the second book in the series is polished and well written - somewhat didactic with some of the messages, but flawlessly delivered as a story rather than a lecture. The themes of this series are well thought and delivered, and would make engaging set reading for themes around slavery, how history is changed to suit the victors, and loyalty. I'm glad I got to read the book in one sitting (mainly thanks to a 10 hour power cut with nothing else to do) and I hope that this is not the last we see of Allen - even if it revisiting the world of Jae and Elan in several generations to see what happens next, or travelling back in time to see what started it all!
- The girl of fire and thorns by Rae Carson
- Sandry's book (The magic in the weaving) by Tamora Pierce
- Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
- Winter of fire by Sherryl Jordan
- Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
- The halfmen of O by Maurice Gee
- Under the mountain by Maurice Gee
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland
- Walk on Earth a stranger by Rae Carson
- Snow in Summer: Fairest of them all by Jane Yolen
- The castle behind thorns by Merrie Haskell
- Soundless by Richelle Mead
- Crown duel by Sherwood Smith
Reviewed by Brilla