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Prisoner of the Elements (War of the Elements, #1)

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They said it would be a great war to end all wars. To create peace between the Elemental Empires: Fire, Water and Earth. As one war ended, another started. The gods came back with a vengeance because peace was never meant to be an option. Now, the lands of Zephryine are cracking, the ocean is a living plague, and crops have become nothing more than skeletons. To Althea Viter They said it would be a great war to end all wars. To create peace between the Elemental Empires: Fire, Water and Earth. As one war ended, another started. The gods came back with a vengeance because peace was never meant to be an option. Now, the lands of Zephryine are cracking, the ocean is a living plague, and crops have become nothing more than skeletons. To Althea Viteri, the destruction of the realm is the only way to set her family free from the clutches of Audor, the Empire of Fire. Her family has nowhere to run. Not with the bands marking their wrists as the chattel of the Empire. But she harbors a secret written on her skin — a power that she’s successfully hidden for twenty-three years, until one day it unleashes itself, catching the eye of King Cyrus. Taken prisoner in the palace and with the constant threat that the people she loves will be slaughtered, her only option is to escape. Yet the longer she’s a prisoner the more she realizes there may be more to her untamed power than she initially thought. Something that makes her a danger not only to herself, but to the world.


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They said it would be a great war to end all wars. To create peace between the Elemental Empires: Fire, Water and Earth. As one war ended, another started. The gods came back with a vengeance because peace was never meant to be an option. Now, the lands of Zephryine are cracking, the ocean is a living plague, and crops have become nothing more than skeletons. To Althea Viter They said it would be a great war to end all wars. To create peace between the Elemental Empires: Fire, Water and Earth. As one war ended, another started. The gods came back with a vengeance because peace was never meant to be an option. Now, the lands of Zephryine are cracking, the ocean is a living plague, and crops have become nothing more than skeletons. To Althea Viteri, the destruction of the realm is the only way to set her family free from the clutches of Audor, the Empire of Fire. Her family has nowhere to run. Not with the bands marking their wrists as the chattel of the Empire. But she harbors a secret written on her skin — a power that she’s successfully hidden for twenty-three years, until one day it unleashes itself, catching the eye of King Cyrus. Taken prisoner in the palace and with the constant threat that the people she loves will be slaughtered, her only option is to escape. Yet the longer she’s a prisoner the more she realizes there may be more to her untamed power than she initially thought. Something that makes her a danger not only to herself, but to the world.

30 review for Prisoner of the Elements (War of the Elements, #1)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    An epic fantasy debut, Schafer weaves magic, romance, and character development into a fast-paced, action-packed novel you don’t want to put down. I was captivated by Althea’s story from the first page to the very last. She’s feisty and fierce, and I was rooting for her all the way, even when she had me banging my head against the wall. The ending sets up the story very nicely for further books, and I can tell we’re only seeing a glimpse of what is going to happen. This is a book you’re going to An epic fantasy debut, Schafer weaves magic, romance, and character development into a fast-paced, action-packed novel you don’t want to put down. I was captivated by Althea’s story from the first page to the very last. She’s feisty and fierce, and I was rooting for her all the way, even when she had me banging my head against the wall. The ending sets up the story very nicely for further books, and I can tell we’re only seeing a glimpse of what is going to happen. This is a book you’re going to want to read!!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Terrie Romero

    I wasn’t sure at first. I wasn’t connecting with the story/characters but I’m glad I continued. It was a wild rollercoaster ride. The author gives us a world where the Fae rule and the mortals are basically trash. Althea the MC is hiding a secret that can get her and her parents killed. Read this book to find out what happens. I received this ARC read for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Volesky

    "I stare at my distorted reflection in the gilded dome, wondering how many wrong turns I’ve taken in life to get here?" The writing? Incredible! The plot? Incredible! The characters? Incredible! The worldbuilding/setup? Absolutely incredible! War left the world ravaged, a state of both environmental and human suffering caused by The God's wrath, strong divides and hatred fuel the nations, complete ruin. Within this world, Althea was born with both a gift and a curse, powers that can both do good a "I stare at my distorted reflection in the gilded dome, wondering how many wrong turns I’ve taken in life to get here?" The writing? Incredible! The plot? Incredible! The characters? Incredible! The worldbuilding/setup? Absolutely incredible! War left the world ravaged, a state of both environmental and human suffering caused by The God's wrath, strong divides and hatred fuel the nations, complete ruin. Within this world, Althea was born with both a gift and a curse, powers that can both do good and kill all those she loves. In a world where humans are seen as nothing more than a waste, servants compared to the Fae, she's hidden her secret for 23 years ... until it all unravels, her gift discovered and the King entraps her. She'll do everything she can to protect the ones she loves, no matter the costs. The story starts right with a shock, a public offering to the gods. Of what you may ask? a child."...the suffering of every tired, forgotten body dragged by every reluctant pair of feet that reaches that altar." From the very start, the book just grips you in, and the mystery and trying to figure out what's occurring just keeps you locked in the best possible way. Written in first-person, it feels like you are truly Althea, trying to figure out what's going on along with her, adding to overall enjoyment as you get to slowly discover information about the world and characters. However, given its first-person, the information can tend to not be fully reliable so trying to figure out deception from truth is another really enjoyable aspect, especially given her stance as a prisoner, information is almost guaranteed to not be always true. The writing style just flowed effortlessly, was incredibly easy to read, fit the world itself, and the whole flow of it just worked. The pacing too was comfortable, the story progressed in a normal/high manner, keeping readers' attention but not missing out on details and rushing it. The development of the world was really well done, and still leaves lots of mystery to be discovered in future books. Characters were really fascinating and had a depth to them, every character with their own mannerism, way of acting, all different. Our main girl Althea, she's smart, loveable, and a badass. She's put into tough situations yet she tends to hold most of her witts about her (with a few human slip-ups, expected, normal, and makes her seem all the more real) Her interactions with the ones around her solidify her character and standing in the world. She has the absolutely best remarks "I refuse to give pity to any person whose greatest weakness is their egotistical rivalry against the son of a king." There isn't much I can say about other characters without giving too much away, other than it's a constant tug of war, or do they actually care, or is it at all a game? An absolutely great read, jumping up and down excited to be able to read the next one! Semi Spoilers 18+ (all character names will redacted) THE SPICE IN THIS BOOK IS *CHEFS KISS* Is it sweet? No. Is it sexy? Incredibly. All signs of feminism ran out of me during the scenes and the dynamic built between the two. Switching between being a complete sweetheart and then completely possessive (not everyone's cup of tea, however incredibly sexy). Enjoy some short exerts. (view spoiler)[ “No one lays a hand on you and lives. Death was a kindness he did not deserve.” “Are you going to use your words, or will I need to punish you?” “But girls who don’t do as they’re told get punished,” he sighs. I can feel him devouring every inch of my naked body. "yanking my head back as the other tightens around my throat. My head goes sinfully light as the air to my lungs is cut off. “Now, are you going to be a good girl and answer?” “I’m going to fuck you until you forget about every other person that’s been in here. When I’m done with you, you’re going to forget how to walk. I’ll give you a reason to call me your prince.” (hide spoiler)] A dark romance scene that came as a surprise however not complaining!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beary Into Books

    Rating: 4.5 Author: @zian_schafer Publication: May 5, 2022 This book started out really strong and continued the whole way through. I wasn’t expecting what was going to happen in the first chapter and I loved that. The author took a risk and decided to start her story with a bang and it completely sets the tone. It basically shows that anything can happen at any point and to expect the unexpected. This was such a great fantasy book and the world will immediately have you intrigued. Sometimes fantas Rating: 4.5 Author: @zian_schafer Publication: May 5, 2022 This book started out really strong and continued the whole way through. I wasn’t expecting what was going to happen in the first chapter and I loved that. The author took a risk and decided to start her story with a bang and it completely sets the tone. It basically shows that anything can happen at any point and to expect the unexpected. This was such a great fantasy book and the world will immediately have you intrigued. Sometimes fantasy books can be hard to follow but the author did a great job of explaining without making it feel like hand holding. I loved the main character Althea. She was strong and determined to do good but she struggled with her own issues. It was interesting seeing how her character developed throughout the story. For those who don’t enjoy love triangles heads up there is one in here. While they aren’t my favorite it was done well. This was a fantastic debut novel and I cannot wait to see what this author writes next. The writing is well done, pacing is on point, and the story is one that will keep you reading until the end. I would highly recommend this book if you're looking for a unique fast paced story. Received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amelia Brookes

    4.25/5 stars WOW I loved this book so much. My brain is still reeling after that cliffhanger ending. I need book 2 immediately. The characters were perfection. The writing was extremely good especially for a debut novel. And the morally gray love interest??? He was perfect. if you love secret powers, morally gray princes, jealousy, forbidden love, and power hungry royalty this is the book for you!! my only issue was with the ending because it felt a little bit rushed. I am also not a huge fan of 4.25/5 stars WOW I loved this book so much. My brain is still reeling after that cliffhanger ending. I need book 2 immediately. The characters were perfection. The writing was extremely good especially for a debut novel. And the morally gray love interest??? He was perfect. if you love secret powers, morally gray princes, jealousy, forbidden love, and power hungry royalty this is the book for you!! my only issue was with the ending because it felt a little bit rushed. I am also not a huge fan of love triangles and this book has a major love triangle. I am hoping it gets resolved in the second book. happy reading everyone :)

  6. 5 out of 5

    nicole

    I received an ARC. I have to say I can’t wait for book 2. I really enjoy the story telling and the fact that the author was building a world. I am a huge Avatar the last air bender and when I saw that this book was inspired by it, I for damn sure wanted to read. I enjoyed all of it and I cussed out several characters along the way, nevertheless, I would recommend reading and pre-ordering!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cecily Sarcinelli

    HOLY CRAP!! This book has sparked my love for fantasy again. People who write fantasy blow me away, how do they think of all these small details that make sense in a make believe world? Zian Schafer really outdid herself. Althea’s story as a mortal being captured by the powerful, evil fae is so captivating and literally kept me on the edge of my seat the entire story. By the end, I still am not sure what or who to believe is good/evil and why everyone is so obsessed with Althea and her skin?! I s HOLY CRAP!! This book has sparked my love for fantasy again. People who write fantasy blow me away, how do they think of all these small details that make sense in a make believe world? Zian Schafer really outdid herself. Althea’s story as a mortal being captured by the powerful, evil fae is so captivating and literally kept me on the edge of my seat the entire story. By the end, I still am not sure what or who to believe is good/evil and why everyone is so obsessed with Althea and her skin?! I seriously cannot wait for the next book to come out. Also, Im not convinced Althea is actually mortal. I don’t think she’s fae, but I think she’s something else entirely.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    As Schafer’s debut fantasy novel, she immerses us into a unique world. The lands are unable to sustain life and the peoples of each area war with one another. Meanwhile, Althea’s kingdom engages in human sacrifice to appease the Gods and allow the land to yield food once again. We find Althea at a crossroads between remaining hidden from the corrupt ruling house and finding herself struggling to contain an inner wrath that seems to grow throughout the story. This fantasy novel places focus on un As Schafer’s debut fantasy novel, she immerses us into a unique world. The lands are unable to sustain life and the peoples of each area war with one another. Meanwhile, Althea’s kingdom engages in human sacrifice to appease the Gods and allow the land to yield food once again. We find Althea at a crossroads between remaining hidden from the corrupt ruling house and finding herself struggling to contain an inner wrath that seems to grow throughout the story. This fantasy novel places focus on unique mental health struggles as we follow a character placed between a rock and a hard place. I consider this book to be Althea’s origin story in a larger picture that she is only beginning to map together. Highly recommend this debut novel for anyone who loves enemies to lovers, love triangles, and a uniquely written MC in a fantasy world. The magic system is very interesting and I feel we’re only beginning to understand it in prisoner of the elements as more will be revealed in future books! Cannot wait for more!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Mueller

    If you’re looking for dark, emotional, and sexy then look no further. Prisoner of the Elements sets up an awesome world with a hierarchy of immortal fae and mortals, mystery, and devastation. The writing style is captivating, each word powerful and evocative. The last chapter is a powerful set up for book 2. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Andersen

    Review: Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Spice: 🌶🌶 “ᴄᴏᴍᴇ, ᴘʀɪɴᴄᴇꜱꜱ. ʟᴇᴛ ᴍᴇ ʙᴀᴛʜᴇ ʏᴏᴜ.” •Elemental magic •Fae who rule kingdoms and mortals that suffer because of them •Each kingdom rules a different element (water, air, fire, earth) •Only one of her kind trope •Mortal with powers trope •Love triangle This book gave me avatar vibes thrown in with a bit of Furyborn and Acotar and it was such a good read. Althea has been hiding her powers of healing her entire life. Trying to protect her family from the wrath of t Review: Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Spice: 🌶🌶 “ᴄᴏᴍᴇ, ᴘʀɪɴᴄᴇꜱꜱ. ʟᴇᴛ ᴍᴇ ʙᴀᴛʜᴇ ʏᴏᴜ.” •Elemental magic •Fae who rule kingdoms and mortals that suffer because of them •Each kingdom rules a different element (water, air, fire, earth) •Only one of her kind trope •Mortal with powers trope •Love triangle This book gave me avatar vibes thrown in with a bit of Furyborn and Acotar and it was such a good read. Althea has been hiding her powers of healing her entire life. Trying to protect her family from the wrath of the Cintis of her kingdom, the fae. ɪᴛ ᴛᴜʀɴꜱ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴍʏ ɢʀᴇᴀᴛᴇꜱᴛ ᴇɴᴇᴍʏ ᴡᴀꜱ ᴍᴇ, ᴀʟʟ ᴀʟᴏɴɢ.” But a day comes where she cannot control herself and her power lashes out, the darkness inside of her takes over and she is taken to the king. ᴛʜɪꜱ ɪꜱ ᴀ ᴛʜʀᴏɴᴇ ʀᴏᴏᴍ ꜰᴏʀ ᴀ ᴋɪɴɢ ᴏꜰ ᴍᴏɴꜱᴛᴇʀꜱ. ᴀ ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇ ᴡʜᴇʀᴇ ᴅᴇᴍᴏɴꜱ ᴀʀᴇ ʙɪʀᴛʜᴇᴅ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏᴡᴇʟꜱ ᴏꜰ ʜᴇʟʟ. Althea is now stuck inside a castle with enemies all around her, with her families lives being held over her head to control her. She will do anything to save them, even if it means sacrificing herself. But she must learn to harness her abilities, tame the beast inside of her that watches and waits. All while her heart is being pulled between the Cintis whose held her in the nights for 5 years, and the fire prince who claims she belongs to him. “ꜱᴏᴍᴇᴛʜɪɴɢ ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ᴀᴛᴛʀᴀᴄᴛꜱ ꜱᴏᴜʟꜱ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ʜᴇᴀʟɪɴɢ.” I really enjoyed the magic system and the world building. The main character is brave and loves her family with all she has. Her mind is a place of turmoil, with thoughts of knowing what she must do and wanting to be loved, but self doubt and cruel words plague her. I found that relatable, everyone has self doubt and it can cause us to sink into ourselves. ʜᴇ ᴍᴀʏ ʙᴇ ᴀ ᴍᴏɴꜱᴛᴇʀ ʙᴜᴛ ɪ’ᴠᴇ ᴀʟᴡᴀʏꜱ ʙᴇᴇɴ ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴇꜱᴛᴇᴅ ɪɴ ᴅᴀʀᴋ ᴛʜɪɴɢꜱ. I will definitely be reading the second book when it comes out, I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds

  11. 4 out of 5

    KristineG.Reads

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. World building? ✅️ Powerful MC but doesn't know it yet? ✅️ Slowburn romance? ✅️ Love triangle drama? ✅️ Dragons? ❎️  This is Zian's debut book from the War of the Elements series. She did an excellent job writing this fantasy world. The story begins in Audor, the Empire of Fire where the faes are in control and humans are the working class. I adored Althea's journey. She has this witty personality and tell it like it is. Loved that! She hid her powers from the fae so she and her family won't be World building? ✅️ Powerful MC but doesn't know it yet? ✅️ Slowburn romance? ✅️ Love triangle drama? ✅️ Dragons? ❎️  This is Zian's debut book from the War of the Elements series. She did an excellent job writing this fantasy world. The story begins in Audor, the Empire of Fire where the faes are in control and humans are the working class. I adored Althea's journey. She has this witty personality and tell it like it is. Loved that! She hid her powers from the fae so she and her family won't be killed. There were a lot of challenges that she had to face to summon her powers but this is just the beginning of her journey. I just wished she didn't second guess herself so often. But it may be part of her character development.... 🤔 As for her lover or lovers should I say. 😁 I'm team Auberon. (I know! I know! I still have faith that my boi will come through for her 🤞🏽 😅). I liked Evander in the beginning but he was absent throughout the book. He just popped back in out of nowhere the last quarter. The last 5 or so chapters were so intense. There was a lot happening. I hate both King Cyrus and what's her face queen. Ugh! I'm hoping the ones in Vesi (Empire of Water) will work with Althea better. I know she basically thinks that the Water Elements camp is bad but you'll never know... We didn't see any dragons. Although there was a mention of it. Hopefully we will see it in action in the next book. 🤞🏽 Overall, this is an excellent debut fantasy book and will definitely read the next installment. Thanks Zian! ❤️

  12. 4 out of 5

    Farrah | Hello, Darkness Darling

    I’d like to thank the author for sending me an arc of this book. It was very sweet of her to do. I always commend authors for putting themselves out there and going for it! With that said, this book was not for me. I did not enjoy the writing style; I found it a bit choppy and jarring. I tried my best to get past it but found myself skimming at around 50%. Once I got to 60% I skipped to the end and read the last few chapters. The premise is great but some things seemed very reminiscent of popula I’d like to thank the author for sending me an arc of this book. It was very sweet of her to do. I always commend authors for putting themselves out there and going for it! With that said, this book was not for me. I did not enjoy the writing style; I found it a bit choppy and jarring. I tried my best to get past it but found myself skimming at around 50%. Once I got to 60% I skipped to the end and read the last few chapters. The premise is great but some things seemed very reminiscent of popular books in the same genre so I found it to be a bit predictable. I am, however, intrigued to know what happens to the FMC in the future. Ultimately, I think the writing style made it extremely difficult for me to connect with any of the characters and I found myself putting off picking it up again. If you’re intrigued by the premise I urge you to read it for yourself! 🖤

  13. 5 out of 5

    Saskia Jade

    So proud of my talented friend for writing this amazing book!! The writing was amazing, you honestly can’t tell that this is Zian’s first book! I loved how open Zian was with Althea’s mental health and the internal battles she faced. Loved the world building and the characters (except for Queen Mellonia, what a bitch). The love triangle, ugh I need more!! The ending has set up perfectly for the next book, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen! Love love love!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    tyler

    I think this book has potential, and with a good editor it could be something great.

  15. 5 out of 5

    lillian

    put this on your tbr 👀 review to come 🥰🥰

  16. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Eagar

    This is book one of what will be a trilogy with a feisty heroine in this debut adult fantasy romance by Zian Shafer. Read this!!! More detailed review coming soon.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I was given an ARC in return for an honest review! Starting with what I didn’t love; when I dive into a fantasy novel I want to get engulfed into the world immediately. I feel like the author dropped bits and pieces at a time so as not to overwhelm the reader. But even by the end of the book it didn’t feel like enough to have a complete picture or map of this new world. I was disappointed by this because the bits you do get are incredible and I just wanted more! Not being able to feel fully imme I was given an ARC in return for an honest review! Starting with what I didn’t love; when I dive into a fantasy novel I want to get engulfed into the world immediately. I feel like the author dropped bits and pieces at a time so as not to overwhelm the reader. But even by the end of the book it didn’t feel like enough to have a complete picture or map of this new world. I was disappointed by this because the bits you do get are incredible and I just wanted more! Not being able to feel fully immersed pulled me out of the story at times and made it a struggle to get back into after stepping away for a bit. So what did I love? Everything else! Theres a “main character against the world” feel to it as well as a bit of a “enemies to lovers” trope both of which can be really overdone but the authors storytelling brings an interesting and fresh feel to it. Althea is a character that’s flawed just enough to make her feel familiar but not enough for you to stop rooting for her. While prisoner in the fire kings palace she has to try to learn how to harness her powers while trying to stay one step ahead of the royals and figure out who, if anyone, she can trust. By the end of the book I had questions answered only to be met with even more questions and a strong urge to have them answered! I’ll definitely continue following Zian to see when the second installment of War of the Elements drops!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Platania

    This book? Addicting The MC? Incredible The prince? 🔥🔥🔥 (in more ways than one😉) The end? GIVE ME THE NEXT BOOK NOW. Literally from the first chapter I was SO sucked into POTE. I love a dark fantasy romance and this certainly delivered everything you could look for in the genre. If you like elemental magic, immortal vs mortal, dragons, spice, or gods then you need to read this!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mayhem

    I received this ARC for an honest review and I have to say I really liked it. I want the second book already 🤣 there were a few inconsistencies and spelling/grammar errors but it wasn’t nearly as noticeable as some other debut novels. The descriptions were really good, not too much and not too little. The characters were somewhat multidimensional. I’m hoping for further character development in the next book. The story was interesting and the world building was pretty good. I would love a map of I received this ARC for an honest review and I have to say I really liked it. I want the second book already 🤣 there were a few inconsistencies and spelling/grammar errors but it wasn’t nearly as noticeable as some other debut novels. The descriptions were really good, not too much and not too little. The characters were somewhat multidimensional. I’m hoping for further character development in the next book. The story was interesting and the world building was pretty good. I would love a map of the world on the next book but i just love when books have maps 🤣 there was a fair amount of spice in it too and i love me some spice. If you like magic, mystery, love triangles, fae, and smart mouthed female leads you’ll like this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jacki

    I was given a ARC copy of this book, thank you so much for that Zian. The moment the book starts off you are being taken on Althea’s journey. Immediately I felt so intrigued by her character and wanted to find out everything about her. The whole Universe is so interesting and there is so much more to discover! I can’t wait to read more. Wonderful!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zian Schafer

    Hello fellow book readers! I'm equal parts nervous and excited to share my creation with all of you. A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into this, and I'm so happy to finally let my baby out into the world! Althea has a place very close to my heart because of all her internal conflicts, and the various ways she has suffered with her own mental health. I really wanted to write a book where the main character is not 'classically strong', and struggles with a lot of internal problems. Just like Hello fellow book readers! I'm equal parts nervous and excited to share my creation with all of you. A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into this, and I'm so happy to finally let my baby out into the world! Althea has a place very close to my heart because of all her internal conflicts, and the various ways she has suffered with her own mental health. I really wanted to write a book where the main character is not 'classically strong', and struggles with a lot of internal problems. Just like I'm the main character in my life, Althea is the main character in this book. Please let me know what you think! You can find me on Instagram, TikTok or Facebook if you want to reach out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

    3.5 stars I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. In a world heavily divided and ruled by status and magic, Althea has immense magical power and strange markings on her body that she must keep hidden in fear of the king finding out about her and killing her or using her. However, Althea gets caught when she uses her magic to save her father, and, as her family feared, she is imprisoned and used by the royal family, who threaten her parents' lives to control h 3.5 stars I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. In a world heavily divided and ruled by status and magic, Althea has immense magical power and strange markings on her body that she must keep hidden in fear of the king finding out about her and killing her or using her. However, Althea gets caught when she uses her magic to save her father, and, as her family feared, she is imprisoned and used by the royal family, who threaten her parents' lives to control her. Earlier this year, I devoured A.M. Strickland's In the Ravenous Dark. The basic plot of Prisoner of the Elements is very similar to Strickland’s book, so I anticipated loving this book too. Despite the similarities, the authors writing style, the detail, the romance, and characterization differ widely. If you liked In the Ravenous Dark, I recommend giving this book a try. I loved the world and magic system Schafer created, and Althea (while she was not the most observant) felt realistic, like her reactions to what happened to her are simple but relatable and make sense in the context. It took a bit for me to understand and start to like, Althea fully, but by the end, I really felt for her and was excited to see what she would do next, especially with that cliffhanger!  Schafer's culture and the magical system was a unique take on popular elemental magic, mixed with the presence of gods, and I loved it. You are immersed into the world right away, which is a little bit jarring, and it was difficult to fully understand the world’s history and the characteristics of the different realms (of which I think there are four). This book is set in and confided to Althea’s home Empire of fire, Audor, which is truly awful. You immediately learn a lot about Audor and its’ heavily suffering general populace and pompous, selfish, evil elites and the absolutely horrendous royal family. I wish the background was presented a bit more straightforward initially; I felt like it got jumbled in with Althea’s introduction. The ending of this book introduces another Empire, which implies that the next book will be exploring a new realm, and we’ll meet new characters, which is very exciting. However, because Althea’s world is so harsh, and because of her magic, there are some very graphic scenes (blood, fighting, death, general suffering), so I’d pay attention to the trigger warnings before deciding to read it or not. While I quickly became fascinated by the magic and society of the Elemental Empires, it took me a while to really like the characters, and by the end, I only really warmed up to Althea. I think the two love interests are both condescending and manipulative, and both relationships involve a toxic power imbalance. The men held all the power, one the prince and the other the top general's son. Althea entered both relationships to protect her secret, her life, and the lives of her parents, not even considering if she liked the guys. At least neither man sexually assaulted her, and Althea eventually develops feelings for both men. Yet, at times it felt like the guys were more passionate about their competition with each other than they were for her, like whoever got Althea to choose them proved they were better than the other. I hope that Althea meets a man in the future books who loves her, understands her, and puts her first, or the prince and her long-time friend need to do some serious groveling. I think the story would have read faster, and Althea would have been more likable quicker if she had not been confined in her room for what felt like 60 percent of the book. Althea spends a lot of time fighting attacks of anxiety and anger, trying and failing to use her powers, worrying about her parents, and crying. All completely understandable responses to her situation but they slowed down the story a lot. Yet, when Althea got to leave her room or take any kind of action, she was pretty badass. I felt like this first book was a great introduction to the world, characters, and conflict, so I was unbothered that Althea did not make much headway in discovering her magic, the meaning behind her markings, and the royal family’s evil plan. I hope that the second book will answer some of these questions and that Althea will grow up a bit and take charge of her future more and be less distracted by the men in her life. While the story might have been slow at times, and the love interests challenging to like but complex enough to be intriguing, the world was very distinctive, and Althea was a strong and realistic main character. I’m really looking forward to reading more about Althea’s journey in the second book!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Unpopular Opinion Ahead: Potential Spoilers This is what I was promised: 🔥slow burn 🔥Avatar the Last Airbender themed 🔥Dragons 🔥vengeful gods 🔥forbidden love 🔥secret powers These were pulled directly from the author’s Instagram. We’re going through these one by one because my biggest issue is that what was told to us/ marketed to us by the author wasn’t completely true. Not the first time I’ve had this issue but it’s an exhausting issue. SLOWBURN: hahahahaa no. Evander was understandable because Alt Unpopular Opinion Ahead: Potential Spoilers This is what I was promised: 🔥slow burn 🔥Avatar the Last Airbender themed 🔥Dragons 🔥vengeful gods 🔥forbidden love 🔥secret powers These were pulled directly from the author’s Instagram. We’re going through these one by one because my biggest issue is that what was told to us/ marketed to us by the author wasn’t completely true. Not the first time I’ve had this issue but it’s an exhausting issue. SLOWBURN: hahahahaa no. Evander was understandable because Althea knew him for five years so I let that pass but Auberon? Auberon was a creep from the start and kept throwing out red flags that were barely acknowledged. Even Evander asked why Althea trusted Auberon after knowing him for like a week or two and she barely questioned it. Auberon told Althea that he’s been obsessed with her long before they met. Their relationship escalated so quickly, it was not slowburn. It was creepy and cringe. AVATAR: yes I got the references and inspiration and it worked well! My favorite part of this book was the detailed lore and history of the world, it felt like a complete world. However, it got me missing and thinking about ATLA for the majority of the book and how much better that show was sooooo… DRAGONS: we got mentions of dragons but no sighting of them. I was under the impression that we would see dragons be an integral part but idk??? Maybe I misinterpreted but dragons were really up-played in the author’s Instagram videos so I’m mad we didn’t actually witness the dragons in action ughh GODS: uhhhhh were they vengeful? I thought that was just the interpretation given to us by acolytes but they didn’t seem vengeful. This is a nitpicking but they were like dragons: mentioned. I cannot accurately tell anyone if they were vengeful. FORBIDDEN LOVE: technically yes, this is applicable for both love interests as one was the prince and the other, the generals son. However I personally didn’t feel the love between FMC and LIs. It felt like lust and I do NOT like insta-love/lust. Althea letting Auberon “have his way with her” just didn’t feel right and I’m hoping that was intentional. This was bully love which I’ve never understood. Why would you treat the one you (allegedly) love with such harshness? I personally am not a fan of bully romance stories. This was not forbidden love because there was no consequences if anyone discovered the relationship. I mean, shit, Althea cursed at royalty (calling the queen a crazy bitch and telling the king and queen “fuck you”) and hardly got disciplined. POWERS: yes, very secret. I’m still confused but if we look back to Avatar-inspiration, my guess is that Althea is supposed to be the Avatar and have multiple powers or maybe just water based on the healing and ice. I’m also guessing the beast is like Raava from Avatar as well but who knows ? This book was lackluster. Ive read many like it and while the world building sets it apart from other books, that’s the only thing I liked. The first few chapters were great until Althea got her own personal room, that is when it decided to run in place. There were multiple scenes of watching her get dressed, reading the same conversation between her and Maiya, getting harassed by the Queen, asking to go on walks, people trying to touch her, and of course, mentioning who Auberon is. If I took a shot for every time Althea told us (the reader) that Auberon was the prince, I would’ve blacked out well before the ending. I know he’s the prince, I’m VERY WELL AWARE OF WHO HE IS. Repetition is the quickest way to kill a reader and that’s all this book was. Althea also flip-flopped around. She was an ok FMC, I expected just a bit more but that’s fine. I’m on team Evander so far because there’s history and he’s a lot less creepy and possessive then Auberon (still a bit tho). If possessive is done right, I like it in my LIs but Auberon was just cringe and bleehhh. I got the ick. The Queen was the most interesting character to me so props! However, I don’t think I’ll be reading book two. Plot Execution: 2/5 Characters: 2/5 Writing: 2/5 Concept: 5/5 Romance: 1/5 Diversity: 1/5 (I only read of one dark-skinned man, please correct me if I’m wrong) Overall: ⭐️⭐️

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carolin Petersen

    The main thing that a reader should know about this book is that it’s for mature audiences. There are trigger warnings at the beginning of the book for this reason, but I’ll reiterate it here. There are dark themes in this book, and it is not suitable for younger readers. The main character is Althea Viteri, and she lives in Audor, and kingdom ruled by the immortal fae with control of fire, known as Cintis. Their lands are in ruins, and natural disasters are common among mortals, as is a nasty pl The main thing that a reader should know about this book is that it’s for mature audiences. There are trigger warnings at the beginning of the book for this reason, but I’ll reiterate it here. There are dark themes in this book, and it is not suitable for younger readers. The main character is Althea Viteri, and she lives in Audor, and kingdom ruled by the immortal fae with control of fire, known as Cintis. Their lands are in ruins, and natural disasters are common among mortals, as is a nasty plague—punishments from their gods, the Anzeth. The story follows Althea in first-person perspective and does not hold back in the more gruesome or graphic scenes. I’d say as a character, she is not my favourite, but this is mainly because she struggles throughout the book with her own self-doubt, and her character development doesn’t revolve around her gaining more confidence in herself. Rather, the plot focuses on what’s happening around her. She is witty and sarcastic, and often times this works against her, but overall, she is an enjoyable character to read. As for the other characters, I liked Althea’s Ma and Pa, and both her positive and negative relationships with the other people in Audor—Evander, Auberon, the king and queen, and several of the palace servants. Each of these other characters has their own individual personality and voice, and they each have a realistic feel to them. Their own motivations are not always clear, but seeing them through Althea’s eyes, the reader gets a good idea of who they are and how they differ from one another. A nice touch this book has is including quotes at the beginning of each chapter, though I must admit, I’m not sure if the quote directly ties into the chapter, or if it just carries a similar theme. The pacing of the book was good, but as can be decerned above, I read this book in three days. That’s the fastest I’ve ever read a novel of this length. Still, the scenes flowed with one another. There were never parts in which I wanted to skip to get the story going, nor were there parts that felt like they were moving too fast. The author gave enough detail about the plot, characters, magic, and other worldbuilding so as not to confuse the reader, but to keep them wondering about things. I can’t say I was ever confused at any point throughout this story. The biggest critique I have about this book is the number of copyediting mistakes I found in the text. I would say this isn’t from a lack of copyeditor, but I certainly would say that it needs another run-through—perhaps if the editor used a speech app to have the story be read aloud. I found inconsistencies in names, pronouns, and spelling, though not enough to impede the comprehension of the text, just my enjoyment of it. At its core, the book deals with trauma—physical and mental—and how it affects people’s lives. There are characters represented with physical disabilities and others who struggle with their mental health, and I found these representations as realistic as I am able to, being someone who does not struggle with most of what is presented.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anya Josephs

    The author generously provided me with an ARC in exchange for this impartial review. Schafer is an extraordinarily talented writer. Her prose is beautiful and emotionally evocative. She has a gift for summoning the emotion a reader needs to feel in a particular scene, which is especially valuable in fantasy. This quality of her writing made the world and characters feel extremely real. I rarely read fantasy-heavy romance, and this sort of sexually-charged story particularly tends not to be for me. The author generously provided me with an ARC in exchange for this impartial review. Schafer is an extraordinarily talented writer. Her prose is beautiful and emotionally evocative. She has a gift for summoning the emotion a reader needs to feel in a particular scene, which is especially valuable in fantasy. This quality of her writing made the world and characters feel extremely real. I rarely read fantasy-heavy romance, and this sort of sexually-charged story particularly tends not to be for me. However, Schafer’s writing was so evocative that the intimate scenes carried a charge that made them compelling even for a reader that doesn’t tend to enjoy the explicitly erotic. The downside, though, is that the two main male characters are hard to tell apart. Evander and Auberon are both much more powerful than Althea, they both behave coercively and sometimes abusively towards her, and they’re both quite controlling. The darkness of the relationships was well-done, but the similarity of them made it difficult to get invested in either. The pacing was one area where I felt the book lacked development. Plot elements were often introduced and then resolved within a few pages, rather than ideas and subplots being developed more gradually. This contributed to a larger sense of choppiness within the book, which was also a consequence of the limited on-the-page worldbuilding. I could tell that Schafer had created a rich and well-developed world, but as a reader I was not given nearly enough information about this world’s history or magic to understand it. Since I really value worldbuilding as a reader, this was a disappointment. There was clearly an interesting world there, I just didn’t get much access to it. This is a minor nitpick, but I really wished the chapter titles had not included epigraphs from famous real-world texts like Animal Farm or the Satyricon. I found this broke the immersion in the story for me, since those books wouldn’t exist in Althea’s world. I know I’ve expressed a lot of quibbles, but the writing in this book is really phenomenal. If you like fantasy romance, I strongly recommend picking it up. Even if, like me, it’s not really for you, it still might be worth a read! I’ll definitely be looking for more work from Schafer. you can also see this review at my blog: https://anyajosephs.wordpress.com/202...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Madisyn

    *2.5 stars rounded up because I feel nice for a first time author* I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I went in with high expectations, I think due to the authors hype and the comparison to ATLA the hype was added to this book. Maybe if I went in with less expectations I might have enjoyed it more. Pros: -For an author's first book, it's not terrible -Mystery powers, still curious how it will relate to ATLA -I hope this new kingdom she goes to is actually better than where she is...not sure if *2.5 stars rounded up because I feel nice for a first time author* I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I went in with high expectations, I think due to the authors hype and the comparison to ATLA the hype was added to this book. Maybe if I went in with less expectations I might have enjoyed it more. Pros: -For an author's first book, it's not terrible -Mystery powers, still curious how it will relate to ATLA -I hope this new kingdom she goes to is actually better than where she is...not sure if it's a pro but I'm going to try and be optimistic -Evander, I hope he is in the next book. Probably the best character in the book -I do stan the women empowerment vibes she is trying to convey Cons: -Honestly felt really slow, 80% of the book, she is stuck within the castle having conversations with the queen (or king if she typos it wrong), king, Auberon, Evander or her maid. -Too many times to count she describes what is going on with the maid, it feels repetitive -In the beginning she compares the differences between fae and humans so often is was overkill. We understood the first handful of times that it takes away from the book. -On that note she also states her and Auberon or Evander can never ever everrr be together. Plz we don't need the repetition -Auberon, I'm not sure where to start with him. I'm not sure if he is supposed to be the morally grey, would kill for you lover interest we all love or if it's supposed to be that WITH a side of controlling issues that feel like abuse. I do not like him and don't see how he can be redeemed. Their entire relationship is cringeworthy. It hurt to read them knowing it would lead to a relationship. He seems obsessive, especially way to early in the book. Maybe its the author not knowing how to write what we are looking for but it does not write well. It was cringeworthy from the start. Feel free to read my highlights, you can tell it's him. We all love the kill for me vibe but this is not it -Rhumner, Runner, Rumner, - after all the typos (and on her own IG) I'm not really sure how is name supposed to be spelled..... -Force feeding...cringe -Lots of typos, when you get names wrong/characters wrong that's when it really takes away from the book. I am torn, I might continue this series because we were promised dragons (none on this one), and I still have hopes the ATLA, world and relationships will grow. We will see. For a first book, It's a fairly good start.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cheyenne

    3.5 ⭐ CW: (provided by the author) violence, blood and gore, abuse, derogatory language, sex, mental Illness, self-harm, sexual assault/rape mention, thoughts of suicide Prisoner of the Elements by Zian Shafer is book one in the War of the Elements series. I was sent an e-ARC to review as part of the the upcoming release next month. I think there is something here for everyone: magic, fae, sleeping dragons, enemies to lovers, love triangle, spice. We follow Althea, an iron Smith with a secret: s 3.5 ⭐ CW: (provided by the author) violence, blood and gore, abuse, derogatory language, sex, mental Illness, self-harm, sexual assault/rape mention, thoughts of suicide Prisoner of the Elements by Zian Shafer is book one in the War of the Elements series. I was sent an e-ARC to review as part of the the upcoming release next month. I think there is something here for everyone: magic, fae, sleeping dragons, enemies to lovers, love triangle, spice. We follow Althea, an iron Smith with a secret: she has the ability to heal people with a touch, but since only Fae are supposed have powers, she must keep her powers (and the marks to go with them) hidden. When she is discovered by Cintis fae (fae who use fire) she is taken prisoner by King Cyrus. While there, is abused and debased by the King and queen, and seduced by the prince all while her parents lives hang in the balance. She must learn to harness her abilities or be sent to Lympha fae (water fae) King Ryven. I love that Althea is an iron Smith, it's not often you see female blacksmiths. She is also head strong and brave. I'd love to learn more about her abilities and what she can truly do with them and how they connect to the bigger picture. We didn't get much world building in this book, but that may come. I had a hard time being invested in the love triangle. I didn't think we got enough of Evander for him to be a real player. We didn't get enough of home for me to feel any kind of fondness for him. And then we have Prince Auberon, abusive and possessive coward. I found myself cringing every time he talked to Althea and saying "you're mine." (*Shudders*) I didn't think Althea fought him enough, she just went with it and even encouraged his possessive behavior and started making excuses for him. It wasn't until the end that she finally saw him for what he was. The fact of his disgusting possessiveness made it impossible to enjoy and otherwise hot smut scene. I tend to be a bit sensitive about the way abusive relationships are depicted, so if that's not a problem for you, then you may like it anyway. I do want to learn more about the dragons and what's going on with all the natural disasters.

  28. 4 out of 5

    L.J. Kerry

    I'd like to thank the author for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for a review I didn't know what to think going into this because I don't usually like Dark Fantasy but I loved this. There were so many Dystopian elements mixed in with the Fantasy, with sacrificial things for people deemed mortal and how fear ruled them. Even though I often hate super long chapters, I was so sucked into this book that I often forgot the long chapter lengths which rarely happens. Althea was a really I'd like to thank the author for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for a review I didn't know what to think going into this because I don't usually like Dark Fantasy but I loved this. There were so many Dystopian elements mixed in with the Fantasy, with sacrificial things for people deemed mortal and how fear ruled them. Even though I often hate super long chapters, I was so sucked into this book that I often forgot the long chapter lengths which rarely happens. Althea was a really interesting character, I felt pity for her and intrigue, I wanted to know more about her powers. Often found myself feeling pity for her, I loved her witty comments and banter. The other characters though were just okay, Auberon though he had his good moments and I did like him I didn't feel like he could be trusted; which I understand is the intent. And Evander wasn't around enough to judge his character, but he seemed genuine. The negatives though was the love triangle, it's one of those that I hate where grown men act like 5 year olds because they want the love interest. It made me eye roll because of how possessive they were. I also would have liked to see Althea master her gifts throughout the book in secret to surprise the enemies but I can see her doing this later in the series. Overall, I recommend this book and excited for the future books in this series. I loved the way the book ended and I can't wait to see Althea's growth.

  29. 5 out of 5

    amajesticread

    OH. MY. GOODNESS. I read this book in 24 hours because I could NOT put it down. I was hooked from the very first page. Schafer has indicated this book was inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I am not familiar with. I can say that fans of The Prison Healer are going to love this! Althea’s mother has two rules for her. Stay covered and stay hidden. The War of the Elements ended long ago but the Gods are still angry with the Cintis, the ruling fae class. The empire of Fire, Audor, is a ba OH. MY. GOODNESS. I read this book in 24 hours because I could NOT put it down. I was hooked from the very first page. Schafer has indicated this book was inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I am not familiar with. I can say that fans of The Prison Healer are going to love this! Althea’s mother has two rules for her. Stay covered and stay hidden. The War of the Elements ended long ago but the Gods are still angry with the Cintis, the ruling fae class. The empire of Fire, Audor, is a backwards, middle age society where mortals are treated like scum. When her family is endangered Althea will risk everything, including her secrets, to keep them safe. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles but I enjoyed both of Althea’s relationships. She has chemistry with both but one stands out in my opinion. I loved seeing her frustration with her untrained abilities and can’t wait to see them flourish along with her character development in the next one. This was an excellent beginning for a promising new series. Now, can we talk about the ENDING?! I’m going to need book 2 ASAP. I’m blown away that this is a debut author. This will definitely be a contender for my top read of 2022. Get this one on your TBR now!! Please heed the trigger warnings as a few scenes could be difficult for some readers. For more bookish reviews, content, and recommendations follow me on IG @amajesticread

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peewee Peeper

    DNF at 25%. I couldn't understand why some quotations from real historic figures when the story's set in another world. But it's not the reason why I couldn't finish this book, far from it. The main reason is the writing, so over-the-top. Every description is so exaggerated that it's borderline ridiculous, like when a soldier slammed Althea against a wall. I get it that it must be extremely painful, but seriously: "I say a silent prayer to the Anzeth pleading for help, for rescue, anything but t DNF at 25%. I couldn't understand why some quotations from real historic figures when the story's set in another world. But it's not the reason why I couldn't finish this book, far from it. The main reason is the writing, so over-the-top. Every description is so exaggerated that it's borderline ridiculous, like when a soldier slammed Althea against a wall. I get it that it must be extremely painful, but seriously: "I say a silent prayer to the Anzeth pleading for help, for rescue, anything but this incessant pain and humiliation". Err… A single punch can hardly be described as "incessant pain". And of course, the soldier has a "predatory smirk" and he delights in hurting Althea, because in this book the good ones are really good and the bad ones are really bad. Don't expect subtlety here. And don't expect consistency either. Althea is so good that her gift compels her to help others even when she doesn't want to, except when the author forgets about it, because apparently Althea's gift doesn't give a f*ck about the other prisoners, for instance. Or this one I picked: "Tears of humiliation and despair threaten to spill down my cheeks but I can't stop the tear that runs down my face". Is she crying or not? The "but" doesn't make any sense here. So many sentences are written this way, it was too tedious to read on. Too bad, the world building seemed interesting.

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