by Claire Legrand
Furyborn's prologue is ferocious, the action at full tilt from the very first sentence: "The queen stopped screaming just after midnight."
Queen Rielle of Celdaria has given birth. "I thought I would kill her," she laughs to herself as she clumsily holds her bawling baby. Queen Rielle was supposed to have been a prophesied savior who would protect her people from the tyrannical rule of the angels. But she had instead "allied with the angels and helped them kill thousands of humans." She was the Blood Queen and had brought doom upon them all.
This first chapter is told from the point of view of Simon, an eight-year-old boy and son of the queen's healer. Both father and son are marques, the persecuted offspring of angels and humans, and possess magic. In the last, striking moments of the scene, the angel Corien arrives and Queen Rielle is certain he plans to kill the baby. She forces the newborn into Simon's arms and demands he use his marque magic to ferry the child away. As Simon creates a portal to escape, the world comes crashing down: a "bright wall of fire" rushes at him, a force slams into him, the baby is ripped from his arms. "And then, nothing."
The next chapter takes place two years earlier. Eighteen-year-old Rielle Dardenne simply wants to get out from under her father's oppressive control. The daughter of the King's Lord Commander, she has grown up in the palace with crown prince Audric and his cousin Ludivine. Now nearing adulthood, Rielle is beginning to understand how desperately she wants Audric, but he is Ludivine's betrothed. Accustomed to keeping secrets and unwilling to hurt either of her friends, she pushes the want aside.
While Audric is "the most powerful sunspinner in centuries," Rielle has immense power over all the elements. She keeps it hidden, though, because her father is terrified by what she can do: he is fearful she may be connected to a prophecy that says the angels will return and "bring ruin to the world." The people "will know this time by the rise of two human Queens--one with the power to save the world. One with the power to destroy it." It is clear that Rielle is mighty enough to be one of the two queens. But which one? When she accidentally unleashes her powers in full sight of the kingdom, she is forced to endure a series of tests to determine whether she is the Sun Queen or the Blood Queen. With Ludivine and Audric by her side, Rielle works to prove that she is the queen with the power to save the world, even if she doesn't entirely believe it herself.
More than a thousand years later, Eliana lives in Orline, across the ocean from Celdaria, under the dominion of the Undying Empire. The Emperor rules with such universal control it seems almost supernatural, but the people of Eliana's time know there is no such thing as magic. They have heard the stories of Rielle, the Blood Queen. But Eliana has no time for such fairytales.
Her father has been missing for 10 years, since he fought in the war against the Undying Empire; her mother, to keep the family afloat, took up mercenary work and taught Eliana the tricks of the trade. When Eliana's mother could no longer work, Eliana took over and is now so lethal, she is widely known as the Dread of Orline. But girls and women are mysteriously disappearing. When Eliana's mother becomes one of them, Eliana joins forces with a man known only as the Wolf, agreeing to help him if he helps her. An equally lethal mercenary, the Wolf works for a revolutionary group that believes in the old religion and its patron saints and is awaiting the prophesied Sun Queen to overthrow the Undying Empire.
Told in short, alternating chapters, Claire Legrand's Furyborn is an explosive trilogy-starter. Both Rielle and Eliana are strong and complicated with abilities that surpass anything their contemporaries can imagine. They are unapologetically powerful—women who know they are extraordinary and demand to be seen as such. And while both young women radiate strength and force, they are also distinctly human. Their stories are raw, filled with raging desire--for power, for sex, for safety.
Furyborn is a fantasy of wrath and passion, of young women who nod to the rules of their society while slyly or violently knocking down whatever stands in their way. They are strength incarnate and they are coming for you, Katniss, Beatrice and Clary. --Siân Gaetano