Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on October 15, 2019
Series: The Aurelian Cycle #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Romance
Also in this series: Flamefall
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone--even the lowborn--a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.
Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn't be more different. Annie's lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee's aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.
But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.
With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he's come to believe in.
And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.
Fireborne is the first book in the young adult fantasy series, called The Aurelian Cycle by author Rosaria Munda. I fell in love with this book. It started off ok, but soon I found myself completed enraptured by this world, their political problems and the plot. It felt like pure magic. To say I am impressed by Rosaria Munda’s writing and storytelling ability and world building is the understatement of the century. If you are a fan of politically driven fantasy worlds, then the Aurelian Cycle is a must read series. It is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. (I’m almost done with book 2 as I write this review and I am thoroughly hooked!)
In Fireborne, we join a post-revolution fantasy world, where the old regime has been over thrown and a new merit-based regime has taken its’ place. The old regime was referred to as a triarchy, where three royal families ruled together and passed down leadership through their bloodlines. The royal families, or dragonlords, were the riders of dragons, which served as the kingdom’s aerial defense. Under the new regime, royal titles are thrown out and a merit based class system has taken it’s place. Here anyone, no matter their birth right, can test into a higher class and a better lifestyle. Children all go to school and all take a merit test early on which will determine their job sector and their lifestyle. Our story joins Annie and Lee several years into this new regime- meritocracy. Annie and Lee have both tested as a gold member- the highest class, which afforded them the right to attend the gold university and will give them opportunities at the highest ranking government jobs.
Annie and Lee were both orphans at the same orphanage and have been lifelong friends, but Lee has a secret- he is the son of a dragon lord and his life was sparred in the palace day massacre. He has assumed a different identity and has been thriving under this new regime. Annie, Lee and some of their friends are also in a competition to see who will become the government’s firstrider, who leads the aerial fleet of dragonriders. Under the new regime anyone can test into being a dragonrider, and we get to watch the final 8 riders compete to be first rider. The basic set up of the world and the story does paint an adequate picture. Rosaria Munda does such a fantastic job weaving in so many intricate details into the political system and nothing in this book is back and white. I loved all of the shades of grey, because with politics hardly anything is black and white, even with concepts of good and bad. Watching the characters delve into the nuances of the old regime vs. the new regime was so fascinating. Not to mention the conflicts that each of the characters face. Their pasts colliding with their presents was a riveting journey. Fireborne is pure magic. I loved watching Lee and Annie interact. Their friendship is so so complicated because of a million different things, and watching them sort it all out in their heads was incredibly compelling.
I really love Lee as a character. Watching him grow up in the new regime and thinking about everything he has to secretly and internally struggle with was heavy and though provoking and really satisfying to see his character growth as he became a commendable young man. I liked Annie as well, but there were certainly times I was disappointed in her. She has her own set of internal struggles and difficulties paid out before her, but sometimes I just wish she made different choices. Overall, I was really happy with her progress as a character but Lee carved out a special place in my heart in a way that Annie has not managed to do yet.
Fireborne is a brilliant story. Rosaria Munda has created a fascinatingly complex world with really layered and nuanced politics. This novel was so thought provoking and such a compelling read that the more I read of it, the less I was able to put it down. She transported me directly into the minds of these characters. I felt every struggle right alongside them, and I loved every second of this journey. If you have not yet read this book, you need to! It is a masterpiece of young adult fantasy. One of the best books I have read this year.