Furyborn by Claire Legrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Feminist fantasy? Alternating POVs of strong young women with powers? Elemental magic trials? Prophecies? YES PLEASE. FURYBORN surprised me in all the best ways, with fantastic pacing and characters I loved to root for.
In the richly developed world Claire Legrand has created, a prophecy tell of two queens: the Sun Queen and the Blood Queen. One has the power to save the world, the other to destroy it (can you guess which is which?) and they will both possess all seven types of elemental magic (some people in this world have one kind of elemental magic, but most have none). The narrative flashes between our two protagonists, Rielle and Eliana, in their own timelines one thousand years apart (after a KILLER prologue that leaves you disoriented and mindblown at the same time). Push through the initial confusion while you’re getting your bearings in the world, and then the story takes off fast!
All her life, Rielle has been forced to hide her ability to perform all seven types of elemental magic. When the truth is revealed, she is thrust into a series of trials to prove she is the Sun Queen, not the dreaded Blood Queen. If she fails, she will be executed. A thousand years later, Eliana is a bounty hunter struggling to survive by tracking down rebels, enemies of the Empire. When her mother disappears, along with many other women in the city, Eliana joins up with a notorious rebel to find her—but, of course, this rebel has ulterior motives. The two stories intersect in some very interesting ways, but each stands well on its own. I don’t think I can pick which one I enjoyed reading more!
There is a lot of worldbuilding to absorb, especially at the beginning, so it did take a bit to orient myself. The world has a detailed history since the story spans a thousand years, and we are given snippets of the rise and fall of several “ages.” But that’s not to say the book is slow. It’s almost non-stop conflict and action the entire time, and the stakes are always increasing and evolving.
I listened to the FURYBORN audiobook, which happened to be narrated by Fiona Hardingham (who narrates Laia’s POV in the stellar EMBER IN THE ASHES audiobooks), and loved every second. I’m a big fan of morally gray characters, and this book gave me a giant cast of them to love. The wait until May 2019 for book two is going to be a long one!
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