*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle #1)
Author: Rosaria Munda
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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. 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.
It’s great to find a new and engaging new YA fantasy! Fireborne is a solid beginning to a new series full of dragons, class issues, revolutions, competition, and bloodshed. What I liked about this book is that it invokes the question of whether one regime can really be better than another, especially when both regimes are deeply rooted in bloodshed and violence. In this medieval-style era, there are only so many solutions to problems like war and famine, and none of those problems have good outcomes for most people involved. Although the new regime in this book claims to be better than the old, difficult times force the citizens to consider that perhaps the new alternative may not be better than the old. There is a very interesting and potentially devastating political shift taking place in this book that I think could becoming complicated as this series goes on. There are potential ethical and moral issues that I can foresee arising that would make this series very engaging. We begin to see a bit of this in book 1. With any luck, this will continue to develop and unfold in subsequent books.
This book has been compared to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter which is pretty accurate in terms of setting and themes overall. You don’t get the gore, sex, and violence or the widespread world-building and robust cast of characters that you see in GoT, but there are some similarities in the revolution, the political turmoil, and the changing economic climate. The only real parallel I could draw to HP was the school setting (a similarity that I suspect will be dropped in the remainder of the series) and the fantasy elements. Readers who enjoy a strong fantasy story with romance, friendship, and lots of dragons and dragon-riding will enjoy this series.
I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads, and it’s maybe more of a 3.5. I enjoyed it, and thought that it was good, but I wasn’t totally blown away. It certainly does have many positive points and gripping elements. I did enjoy reading it! I didn’t totally love it because I felt frustrated that many scenes, especially the action and battle sequences, were often cut short. These are the most heart-wrenching and heart-in-your-throat moments and for them to be cut short is anti-climactic. The build up to the greatest battle in this book is more intense than the brief page-and-a-half glimpse of the battle that we do see. Because these scenes are regularly cut short, the reader is often left to infer what has been implied, but isn’t given the satisfaction of feeling their own adrenaline start to pump or their blood begin to boil. Munda is great at the character building aspect and at establishing context, but there was nothing in this story that had me flipping furiously through the pages to find out what was to happen next.
I did enjoy this story overall, and for anyone seeking a new fantasy series, give this one a shot. Happy reading!