A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Furyborn is the first in a compelling fantasy trilogy by author Claire Legrand. Set in an alternative universe where angels can telepathically communicate with humans, and select humans possess mastery of an element, the bestselling book follows two young women warriors (one a paid bounty hunter/assassin, the other a queen) who are more powerful than they ever imagined. The unputdownable novel features loads of violence (both up close with swords and knives and on a vast, earth-shattering scale) and some fairly overt romance and sexuality (by the end of the book, both protagonists have had love scenes). Readers who enjoy authors like Sarah Maas and Leigh Bardugo will gravitate toward this novel.
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What's the story?
FURYBORN is Claire Legrand's first book in a fantasy series called Empirium, about two young women with supernatural powers beyond all measure in an alternative fantasy universe. The prologue starts off with Queen Rielle giving birth, pushing the baby into the hands of an 8-year-old angel-human hybrid named Simon (who can time travel), and then proceeding to destroy everything around her to get away from a telepathic angel, Corien. Then the chapters alternate between Rielle in the past and a young woman named Eliana 1,020 years later. Rielle lives during a time in which a select group have 1 out of 7 elemental powers, but she can master them all -- something her father and tutor have been keeping secret from the royal crown. When assassins threaten her best friend (and secret beloved) Audric, the kingdom's crown prince, Rielle uses several elements at once to save him (and kill the mercenaries after him). It turns out Rielle's powers deem her either the prophetic Sun Queen, who will save the world, or Blood Queen, who will destroy it (by handing it over to oppressed angels desperate to leave their realms). A millennium later, Eliana's world is post-ruin and run by an evil emperor, but she works for it anyhow as a well-paid bounty hunter for the Empire. When Eliana's mother is kidnapped, she teams up with a rebel faction to save her, only to discover she's now part of a thousand-year-long battle that connects her storyline to the legendary Queen Rielle's.
Is it any good?
An amazing prologue and intriguing premise make this series starter a riveting YA fantasy read, particularly among fans of ultrapowerful "chosen one" protagonists. Legrand's opening chapter is brilliant and sets the page-turning tone -- a baby, an evil queen, mentions of a lost love, and a battle between said queen and an even more mysterious angel. That's a compelling start if ever there was one. Once the story rewinds (for Rielle) and goes forward (for Eliana), it occasionally gets tripped up with more action than world-building (and definitely more steamy romance and sex positivity than is typical in YA books outside of, say, Sarah Maas' bestsellers), but readers will still want to barrel through to figure out what's happening and what turns Rielle into the character we meet in the opening pages.
Between the two main characters, Rielle is the more likable, even though readers know where her story "ends" from the start. At times she seems a bit too overwhelmed by desire for Audric (and even the sexy angel speaking in her mind) than worried for her world's future, but she is, after all, a teenager in love. Audric, for his part, is an earnest, handsome hero without any stereotypical bad-boy edge. That edginess is reserved for Simon, who's scarred and cryptic and has a complicated attraction to Eliana. The plot is super simple if excised from all the action sequences (a seven-part trial in the past, a rebel mission in the present). But younger readers unused to timeline changes may find it difficult to understand if they're rushing. Even after 500-plus pages, readers may not fully grasp the scope of what's at stake for Eliana's timeline, but they'll be ready for more of the Blood and Sun Queens in Book 2.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Furyborn. Does reading about violence affect teens differently than seeing violence portrayed on a screen? Why?
One half of the story goes in reverse chronological order. Does that in any way lessen the impact of what happens to that main character?
Will you read more in this series? What do you think will happen to the two main characters? Which storyline do you find more compelling?
Do you consider any of the characters role models? If so, which ones?
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