Lightbringer: Empirium, Book 3

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Lightbringer: Empirium, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Epic, if overlong, finale is full of twists and violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will continue learn how to discern different points of view in a book dealing with vastly different timelines and more than one first-person perspective.

Positive Messages

The final installment has positive messages about the importance of honesty, forgiveness, redemption, and love. The story continues to remind readers about owning your power and talents but also being aware of how power can manipulate and corrupt. Various characters display courage, perseverance, and self-control.

Positive Role Models

Rielle and Eliana are both courageous and love their families and friends fiercely. They both struggle with whether to unleash their power or keep it controlled -- to do what's best for themselves or to do what benefits the people they love and their communities/kingdoms. Audric and Ludivine care deeply about Rielle and are supportive and protective of her, even when they are scared of her. Remy adores his older sister, Eliana. Simon seems like a traitor but shows willingness to help and put his life on the line. There's continued LGBTQ representation in this installment, as well as characters with different fantasy cultural backgrounds.

Violence

As with the previous installments, this book has a huge body count as well as torture, abduction and hostage-taking, and violent mind control and manipulation. Many characters die due to armed battles, explosions, and hand-to-hand combat.

Sex

Slightly fewer love scenes in this installment than the previous ones, but there are still several, almost all in one queen's timeline. One queen still has a ravenous need for sex to quiet her spinning mind. Some references are vague (e.g. they "moved together" all night) and others are more overt.

Language

Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," "ass," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Given the intense circumstances of the storylines, there's less drinking in this book. But adults still drink at dinners. Angels can intrude in, read, and muddle human minds.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lightbringer is the final book in Claire Legrand's best-selling fantasy trilogy that began with 2018's Furyborn, followed by 2019's Kingsbane. With the continuation of its supernatural time-traveling, epic cast of characters, and elaborate world-building (not to mention its nearly 600 pages), this installment is a must-read for those already invested in the series about two warrior queens who could just as easily destroy the world as save it. There's slightly less sex in this book than the previous ones, although there are still several references and a few love scenes. The violence can be disturbing and ranges from up-close-and-personal decapitation, disintegration, and torture to massive battles between angels and humans. Several prominent characters are injured or die. Mature teen readers who've already read the first books will want to finish the epic series.

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What's the story?

Lightbringer is the third and final installment in author Claire Legrand's epic Empirium trilogy, and it continues where Kingsbane left off: with a grieving and heartbroken Rielle turning to the manipulative arms of the tyrannical angel Corien, while a thousand years in the future Eliana is kidnapped, betrayed, and presented to the Emperor (also Corien). Reeling from the fact that Simon betrayed her, Eliana refuses to unlesh his power to travel through time as the Emperor wishes, so the Emperor has her continuously tortured. In the past, Corien convinces Eliana to open the Gate keeping angels out of the mortal realm and to resurrect them through the bodies of fallen humans. Meanwhile, both queens are helped by those who still love them, even if they don't realize it.

Is it any good?

Longer than it needed to be, this trilogy finale reveals all the truths, twists, and turns between the Sun Queen and the Blood Queen that readers have been waiting for since Furyborn. Even though it has only been a year since the previous book was released, it was difficult to remember all of the details and characters that pop up, so the passages that work best concentrate on the main characters from each timeline: Rielle, Audric, Ludivine and Corien in the past and Eliana, Simon, Remy (and the Emperor) in the future/present. Plenty of secondary characters make appearances and have their storylines resolved, but readers are tuning in to see if/when Eliana will confront her out-of-control mother, Rielle. That, and to figure out which of the various couples will be left standing (and in love) when all the magical dust (and blood, so much blood) settles.

Final books of beloved series are usually unputdownable, but this one is occasionally a slog to read, particularly in Rielle's timeline. She doesn't do much more than burn/ache/rage, and it gets tiresome. Even Audric's and Ludivine's pining for her starts to feel repetitive. It's Eliana's story and character arc that really saves the day in this book, as she rises to meet the challenge set before her, with (and without) help she neither imagines nor fully understands (until the end). Despite getting bogged down in side stories that makes one wonder if author Claire Legrand will return to this fantasy universe via another character or kingdom in the future, the final quarter of the book is terrifically paced and plotted. The stories converge and the queens (and their loved ones) have their glorious moment together. The author knows how to end a book, full of precious, if bittersweet, hope and love.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Lightbringer and the entire Empirium series. Why is it necessary to the story? Does fantasy violence impact readers different than realistic violence?

  • Do you consider anyone a role model in this installment? What character strengths do they display? Why are courage, perseverance, and self-control important?

  • Which romantic relationship do you most "ship"? Which couple do you think has the best and healthiest relationship? 

  • What do you think will happen in the altered future? What do you think of the ending?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy

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