A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fireborne is the first in a planned dragon-fantasy "Aurelian cycle." Fantasy violence includes dragon riders attacking and torturing with fire, and tournament bouts and sparring to determine the best. Attacks mention destruction, burning, pain, and death, but there are no gory descriptions. Several characters grapple with past atrocities they witnessed during a violent overthrow of the ruling class. Sexy stuff is mild, with some kissing and making out described vaguely and a couple of sexual relationships implied but not directly narrated. Strong language is very rare but includes "s--t" and "bitch." A few celebrations mention drinking wine and whiskey, and hangover symptoms afterward are mentioned. Themes explored include conflicting loyalties, believing in yourself and your capabilities, and whether it's OK to do bad things that at least aren't as bad as the perpetrators from the past. Loyalty conflicts and whether it's OK to be the lesser of two evils aren't fully resolved, probably because the story hasn't ended yet.
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What's the story?
FIREBORNE tells of Lee and Annie, who grew up together in an orphanage after both lost their entire families in horrific acts leading up to a violent overthrow of the ruling classes. Because they were each chosen for bonding by a dragon, they're now part of an elite corps of young people training to be guardians of the new government and all its citizens. Lee's hiding a dark secret from his past that, if revealed, would jeopardize everything he's worked hard for in his bid to become Firstrider, or leader of the dragon-riding guardians. Annie has always played second fiddle to Lee, but she's also always needed his protection. Is she really destined to be his lieutenant, or does she have what it takes to become Firstrider herself?
Is it any good?
In her fantasy-series debut, author Rosaria Munda successfully combines several classic elements, including dragons, dystopia, government intrigue, and blossoming romantic love. Dragon fans should note that here, dragons aren't characters who speak but instead are more like horses that form a psychic bond with their chosen rider. Some of the world-building feels a bit long, but assuming we'll see two or three more volumes, it makes sense to spend some time at the beginning to help the reader understand the world and get immersed in it. Patient readers will be rewarded with compelling, fully explored, relatable characters and a building sense of action and suspense.
Fantasy fans will relate to Lee as he struggles with conflicting loyalties between family and friends, and between government and citizenry. They'll also relate to Annie as she develops confidence and a sense of her own self-worth. And it's a good opportunity to think about bigger questions: whether it's OK to be the lesser of two evils, and whether harmful actions taken today are justified if they help bring about positive changes. The ending satisfies while leaving plenty of room for the story to continue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Fireborne portrays Lee and Annie. What are their character strengths and weaknesses? What do you like or admire about them? Is there anything you don't like?
The society of Callipolis after the revolution has some dystopian elements. What are they? What are some of your favorite dystopian novels, movies, or videos?
Why are dragon fantasies so popular? What do we love about them? If you've read any other dragon novels or series, which are your favorites? How does this one compare? If you haven't read any before, would you like to now?
- Author: Rosaria Munda
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Publication date: October 15, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 8, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy and dragons
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