Welcome to one of the stops for Raincoast Books blog tour for Claire Legrand’s Furyborn! Read on for my thoughts on the book as well as a short Q & A with Claire!
The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world… or doom it.
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed… unless the trials kill her first.
One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable-until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world-and of each other.
Claire Legrand has critically acclaimed children’s fiction titles to her credit, including Some Kind of Happiness and The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Furyborn, book one in the planned Empirium Trilogy, is young adult fantasy title with a deeply intricate, wondrous and explosive story.
With an opening chapter that is absolutely fierce and spellbinding in its mystery, Furyborn starts off with quite a bang and continues in this propulsive manner for the duration of its course. Post-opening, Furyborn is told in two alternating third-person narratives: one being that of Rielle Dardenne in the Second Age; the second being that Eliana Ferracora, of the Third Age. Rielle’s and Eliana’s stories are 1,020 years apart, but readers will come to know their exact bind by the end of the novel. Rielle’s life in the land of Celdaria is that of veneration to elements (sun, air, fire, shadow, water, metal, and earth), where casting of the elements (magic) is practiced and the long-dismissed prophecy of two human queens- one good and one evil- comes to light. Long foretold, it was thought that a Sun Queen and a Blood Queen- each with all the elements of magic- would rise and predict the future or end of the world. As we follow Rielle’s storyline, we’re taken along an unsettling journey as it is revealed that Rielle may hold the magic of all seven elements and will thus have to endure- i.e. survive- seven trials that the King and his advisors have created. With her extraordinary claim of being the prophesied Sun Queen- the good Queen that will protect the world from the savagery and vengeance of banished angels- Rielle’s life is forever altered, as are the lives of her best friends- the King’s heir Audric, and his bride-to-be, Ludivine. Eliana’s world, millenia after Rielle, is one where magic, prophecy and angels and the stories of the prophesied queens are thought of as mere remnants of old tales- completely fictitious. In contrast with Rielle’s life, Eliana’s is perhaps even more disturbing and dark. Making her living as an bounty hunter by working for the terrifying ruling Empire and ratting out supposed traitors to the Empire, Eliana’s life is completely derailed when a man named the Wolf traps her and forces her hand to join forces against the empire. As the two narratives get deeper and deeper, the relationship between Eliana’s present and Rielle become clearer- as do the seemingly gossamer connections between the two protagonists inexplicable, leviathan powers, the banishment of and venom against angels, and the catastrophic battles that have attempted to forever keep angels away from human life.
Legrand has carefully built up a pretty incredible world here especially given the fact that our main characters live in the crafted world of Avitas millennia apart. From dress, armor, weaponry, geography, not to mention the details of the seven elements, their respective saints and casts…there is so much to awe over and ingest here. Legrand also does a solid job in maintaining tension between Rielle’s and Eliana’s storylines; as the reader, we know we’re going to come to a massive reveal as to how they are actually connected (and why that has somehow survived centuries of time!). While readers might immediately or in short course of time figure out the exact link between Rielle and Eliana, the journey to get to the ultimate end (at least end of book one!) is fascinating. I would argue that Eliana’s storyline, and perhaps even her character, is the more nuanced and complex protagonist, especially as Eliana’s story with the Wolf moves forward and her loyalties and love for her beloved brother Remy and her mother Rozen are tested time and time again. Rielle’s storyline reminded me, in some capacity, of the trails and tribulations that Katniss goes through in the first of The Hunger Games– but it did not make it less intense. With so much packed in Furyborn, not everything is made sense of nor entirely cleared; some major questions are left unresolved, plot points left uncertain, and character choices left vague, but I was nonetheless held captive with the story start to finish (…I also imagine that the second and third books will illuminate any unanswered questions and issues!).
Readers who adore the work of authors such as Leigh Bardugo, Stephanie Garber, Laini Taylor, or Kendare Blake might especially love all of the elaborate world creation, character dynamics and sheer ferocity of Furyborn. Fans of Claire Legrand’s previous titles, even those not so familiar with fantasy, might also want to check this book out, as Legrand’s writing is graceful and fluid no matter what genre she is writing in; the novel simply flies by. Look forward to two more books to come in the Empirium Trilogy!
Q&A with Claire Legrand
Q: Big congratulations on Furyborn! On your post for Furyborn on Goodreads, you note that it has been thirteen years that you have been working on the books- and that they are “the books of your heart”. Since 2012, when The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls came out, you have been busy with other multiple book releases. How was your work on The Empirium books impacted by experiencing the release of your other titles and/or with the changing receptiveness to young adult fantasy series?
Claire Legrand: Yes, Furyborn—and the Empirium Trilogy overall—is the story of my heart. I’ve been working on the series off and on since I was eighteen years old. During that time, there were sometimes months-long stretches when I wouldn’t even look at my Furyborn notes because I was busy with other projects. But it was always there, in the back of my mind, waiting patiently for my return. Each book I’ve written has taught me many new things about myself, both as a writer and as a person, and I don’t think I would have been able to make Furyborn the book it is now without the experiences of creating my other books.
Thank you so much for your time!
Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour:
I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of this blog post. All opinions and comments are my own. Author interview was arranged by Raincoast Books.