Flamefall: The Aurelian Cycle, Book 2
By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Complex dragon-fantasy sequel has intrigue, excitement.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain. Author's note briefly mentions adapting lines from Homer's Iliad and Sophocles' Antigone, which may inspire interest in reading these and the classics that inspired the first volume.
Being strong and having power isn't as important as what you do with your strength and power. You don't need help from anyone else to be strong; strength comes from within yourself -- you just have to find it. People who are hurt often hurt others in turn, which can lead to an endless back-and-forth of retaliation and revenge. The only way to stop it is to keep your head above it. Fixing society's problems is complicated, and the characters and story ask whether you're on the same side with someone who disagrees with you about how exactly to make changes.
Positive Role Models
Annie models courage, integrity, teamwork as the new leader of the Guardians. But she's starting to wonder if, now that she's in a position of authority, she's become a part of the problem instead of the solution. Lee models empathy, integrity, self-control as he finds himself in over his head with a group of radicals. Griff models compassion, curiosity, humility trying to protect his family while working toward ending his society's cruelties. Lots of different skin colors, hair colors, and hair textures are mentioned on positive characters, and there's a positive representation of a same-sex romance.
Violence & Scariness
Characters cope with memories of past atrocities, some in the fantasy realm (dragons) and some in the real world (tortures, massacres). Descriptions are vague, pain is sometimes described, blood is mentioned. Large-scale destruction from dragons, including death. Intense dragon-riding battles mention burning people and property, loss of life, wounds from clawing and biting, but no gore. Burning with dragon fire used in coercion and punishment. Past bullying and beatings mentioned. Verbal hostility and bullying. Past physical abuse is remembered and described vaguely. Civil unrest includes looting, burning, and loss of life.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses and light making out. Teens spend a night in the same bed but don't have sex. Several implications of sex, like being tangled in bed together, but nothing's directly narrated. The two central romances, one same-sex and one different-sex, have lots of romantic tension.
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"S--t," "bitch," "damn," "whore," "ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens and adults drink wine, sparkling wine, and beer at festivals, parties, and social events. Excess is briefly shown. A protagonist leaves a party early when the drinking gets heavy, and the villain eventually passes out.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Flamefall is the second of a planned dragon-fantasy trilogy, The Aurelian Cycle, and takes place soon after the events in Fireborne, the first volume. Reading the books in order is ideal, otherwise readers may be confused by some characters and events in the beginning of this book. Fantasy violence includes intense dragon-riding battles with loss of life, large-scale destruction, burning, biting, and clawing. Pain and blood are mentioned but not described in detail, and there's no gore. Real-world violence includes civil unrest, rioting, past physical abuse, and bullying. Sexy stuff is a few kisses and light making out in the two central romances, one same-sex and one different-sex. Sex is implied in one of the romances but never directly narrated. Strong language is rare but includes "s--t," "bitch," and "damn." Teens and adults drink alcohol in social situations, and some excess is shown; consequences mention passing out or throwing up. Political and social themes provide food for thought about power, abusing power, equality, and ways to bring about change for the better.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
FLAMEFALL tells the stories of Annie, Lee, and Griff in the aftermath of a revolution that exiled the dragonlords of Callipolis to the island of New Pythos. Thanks to Lee's sacrifice, Annie is now Firstrider, leader of the Guardians who must protect Callipolis against retaliation from the dragonlords. But food shortages and civil unrest may mean Annie will have to protect the people of Callipolis from themselves, and from an unjust government, too. Now second in command of the Guardians, Lee is traumatized by a recent duel in which he killed, and he freezes up whenever he rides his dragon Pallor into a fight. He's also angry at the unjust distribution of food and resources under the very government he's supposed to protect. Will he abandon the Guardians and join the new revolutionaries as they start to take more drastic, and more dangerous, action? Griff is the servant of a sadistic master on New Pythos. Griff and other low-born people like him are forced to ride muzzled dragons to both defend New Pythos and attack Callipolis. Griff wants to be free of the dragonlords as much as his dragon Sparker wants to be freed from the muzzle. So he strikes a bargain with Annie to bring the dragonlords down in an act almost too horrible to think about. When the moment comes, will he be able to make himself do what it takes?
Is It Any Good?
This dragon-fantasy follow-up volume continues to successfully combine classic elements like dragons, dystopia, government intrigue, civil unrest, and romance. Dragon fans should note that in Flamefall, dragons aren't characters who speak but are more like horses that form a psychic bond with their chosen rider. Reading Fireborne first is recommended, or else readers may find the characters, places, and story confusing. As in the first volume, author Rosaria Munda creates complex, relatable characters and keeps the pages turning with even more intense dragon battles, political intrigue, romance, and plenty of surprises along the way. It also provides food for thought about power, especially compared with inner strength; about how people become powerful; and, most important, what they do with the power they have. It ends on a real cliffhanger that will have readers eager for the next volume.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Annie, Lee, and Griff as role models in Flamefall. What are their character strengths and weaknesses? Who was your favorite character, and what did you like about them?
Dragon fantasies have been popular for ages. What do we love about them? Do you have a favorite kind of dragon, or favorite dragon character?
What are some of the ways characters try to bring justice and equality to Callipolis and New Pythos? Are there right or wrong solutions? Which do you think have the best chance of succeeding?
- Author: Rosaria Munda
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Publication date: March 23, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 496
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 21, 2021
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