Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Crystal Crowned Review + an Interview with Vhalla and Aldrik

** At the end of this review there is an Exclusive Excerpt and a short interview with no one other than the two characters we fell in love with from day one, Vhalla and Aldrik. Read on and Enjoy!***

Title: Crystal Crowned
Author: Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens #5 (Final)
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Elemental, Magic, Romance, Swords, Medieval
Source: ARC
Pages: 305
Rating: 5 stars

Available at:

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? 

At the beginning of every series, there comes an end. Every reader wants to get there to find out how it all turns out, and every reader dreads the moment of those final few pages when you realise, this is the end. This was my reaction to Crystal Crowned. There have been very few characters out there that I have loved more than Vhalla and Aldrik, and it has been a great ride getting to know them, fighting alongside them, and falling in love with them. And now that that intro has been said, the review:

If there is one thing you learn about the characters in this book it's that they are strong. Despite all the odds against them, Vhalla and Aldrik found a way to be together. Even though their world is in chaos, they can find solis in each other and the friends that remained at their side through it all. While there is a lot of heart break and a lot of impossible decisions, Vhalla and Aldrik remain together, even when they don't agree on the other's decisions. I was really happy to see this. They had both grown as characters, something we had seen in Water's Wrath, but now we get to see the grow as a couple as well. If there is one thing that Elise Kova does well, its character development! Vhalla is no longer the shy girl she was, and she is no longer afraid to as the hard questions, even if it means fracturing a friendship to get the answers she needs. She is no longer scared of the truth, even when it makes her look at her friends in a new, less pleasant light. She is not afraid to admit that she has no idea what she is doing as Queen, but that she will damn well try her hardest to be the best Queen for Solaris. Vhalla grows magnitudes in this book, she puts her friendships and her relationship to the test, and she manages to steer a path that ends well (or as well as one can hope for given the circumstances) And the character development is not only for Vhalla, but even the secondary characters that we loved. I won't delve too deep into that, you'll have to witness Elise's mastery unfold before your own eyes to experience it first hand. 

As far as plot goes, be prepared for it to all be thrown out there! Elise Kova holds no punches as she finishes the Air Awakens series. Her writing is amazing as usual, and we definitely get a resolution at the end (and a bit of a surprise in the epilogue), but it was so much more than that as well. At the end of Water's Wrath we were left with a lot of questions about both the characters that we loved *cough* Daniel *cough*, as well as what was going on with Vhalla's powers and the actual crystal crown. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that 1) Elise did a great job of subtly foreshadowing the events of this book, and 2) you get your answers I promise. It is a credit to Elise that the reader can both love the end of a series, and hate it because it's over. She has done and amazing job 

I couldn't be happier with how Crystal Crowned turned out. Yes, it's the end of a series, but you never know, we might see these two in the future. Maybe some short stories (she says hopefully). This series has been amazing and it came to a beautiful, climatic end that I am positive everyone will be pleased about. 5 stars for Crystal Crowned, and a huge thank you to Elise for the ARC of this amazing series! 

You can read my review of Air Awakens HERE, Fire's Falling HERE, Earth's End HERE, and Water's Wrath HERE

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.


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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Twitter: @EliseKova
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And now, an interview with Vhalla and Aldrik! 

INTERVIEWER: Vhalla, you went most of your life not knowing that you held any kind of magic, if you could go back to that time where you were oblivious to your powers, would you still choose to be a sorcerer? Why or why not?
VHALLA: I try not to think about what “could have happened”. Only the Mother has the power to alter fate. At least, that’s what I choose to believe.

INTERVIEWER: How do you think magic affects your relationship? Do you think if neither of you ever possessed magic you would still find your way to each other?
VHALLA:I’m relieved to say that I don’t think magic affects too much of our relationship. After spending time without it, I know that the bond we share is deeper than even sorcery. Though, I don’t know if I would’ve ever met Aldrik had I not been a sorcerer…

INTERVIEWER: We all know how much Aldrik had hurt you after he agreed to an arranged marriage in exchange for your pardon, but was there ever a moment that you seriously imagined your future and Aldrik was not in it? Did you ever think that you and him would never be together in some shape or form?
VHALLA: I didn’t know what to think. So much happened in Shaldan. I thought I knew who I was and where I was headed and realized that I didn’t know anything. I questioned everything. I honestly didn’t even know if I would return to the palace for a while. Part of why I went to the Crossroads was because I thought I may head to the Academy of Arcane Arts in Norin.

INTERVIEWER: What was the hardest part about coming back to the castle after you had been gone for so long after the war?
VHALLA: How normal everything seemed. It felt as though I had completely changed and the castle hadn’t. Of course, that wasn’t true… Roan had changed, the guard had changed… But the walls and paintings and everything were so familiar even though I didn’t feel like the girl who’d left.

INTERVIEWER: Aldrik, you and Vhalla initially came together because of the bond that was formed when Vhalla saved your life. Assuming that that bond had never been formed, do you think that you still would have found your way to Vhalla? Do you think you still would have fallen in love with her if she wasn’t a sorcerer?
ALDRIK: I think it nearly impossible to say. I certainly did not make it a habit to fraternize with common folk. However, to indulge your hypothetical on the matter... I had previously met a young woman in the library, so it's not impossible to say that could happen again.

INTERVIEWER: We have all seen the struggles you have faced, both internal and external, because of your love for Vhalla. If you could go back and talk to the past you, is there something you wish you could tell him to make things easier?
ALDRIK: To trust the woman before him, to trust everything about her… Her magic, her capability, her right to make her own decisions. I wonder how much I could have spared her from if I was not so intent on keeping everything to myself, confident that I alone could manage the best path for both of us. I should have never tried to take that right from her.

INTERVIEWER: If you were not the crowned prince, and you and Vhalla were both commoners who happened to be in love and possess magic, what do you imagine your life together would look like?
ALDRIK: Much quieter.

INTERVIEWER: Was there ever a moment after you had signed away your freedom for Vhalla’s that you ever thought you would never be able to be with her again? Was there ever a moment, before or after that moment, that you believed that you had probably lost her forever?
ALDRIK: I never deserved her in the first place, not as the man I was. So I never expected to be able to place her by my side as she deserved.

INTERVIEWER: If you could go back and change one moment for yourself­– something you said or did, or maybe something you failed to say or do­– what would it be?
ALDRIK: I should have explained everything from the beginning to Vhalla. I didn’t understand how keeping people at arm’s length can be just as dangerous as holding them close.

Thank you for reading! A big thanks to Elise for indulging us in these questions and taking time out of her writing to answer them! I hope you all enjoyed <3

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