When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.
A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Empirium Trilogy
How did I get this book: Arc from Netgalley
I think the last time I was this excited about a fantasy novel, I’d just heard about Queen of the Tearling. Actually, it’s not all that surprising that I was immediately drawn to this book the way I was drawn to that one. My favourite things from that series are clearly going to be present in this one. Strong female characters, rebellions, thought out magic systems and great world building….what can I say? I have a type.
I joined Netgalley a while ago and only really started using it recently. I was so thrilled to receive an ebook ARC of Furyborn. I started it right away and although it took me a few days to finish it (life is annoying and gets in the way of reading) I couldn’t help staying up late to finish the final quarter last night. Tired? Yes. Worth it? Oh yes.
The prologue opens with a boy hiding, while a queen screams into the night. This immediately gripped me. The boy frozen, terrified, while the castle rattles from her emotions, the queen desperately crying out…it just pulled me in. Sometimes you know from the first page that a book has got you. This is one of those.
Rielle is a real spitfire. Best friend to the crown prince and his betrothed, she’s spent her life growing up around the palace. However, her father keeps her on a fairly tight leash and she breaks out one day by sneaking off with Prince Audric to compete in the Boon Chase. It’s then that they are ambushed and Rielle realises with horror that they will kill her best friend and the boy she loves if she doesn’t stop them.
Eliana is a bounty hunter, a thousand years later. The Blood Queen is only a myth and legend in the stories that her brother Remy loves. Eliana is far more concerned with keeping herself and her family safe in a war-torn land. She makes some hard choices and although this does trouble her, self-preservation is more important. After the death of her father in the war, she will do anything to keep her family safe, even stalk the streets at ‘The Dread of Orline.’
Audric is the prince and childhood friend to Ludivine and Rielle. Ludivine is his cousin and also his future bride. He is a sunspinner, which is quite fitting for a prince. He appears to be smart and kind, concerned about Rielle and judging by the prologue, a wise and beloved leader. Rielle is in love with him and will do anything to save him when his life is threatened.
Ludivine is the sweet and optimistic friend of Rielle. She might also be a bit mischievous and observant but I won’t tell you why I think that! Her aunt is the queen and she will follow suit after marrying Audric.
Harkan is Eliana’s fellow bounty hunter and friend. He tries to keep her wild spirit under control and…..probably often fails. He and Eliana are very close and occasionally lovers, seeking comfort from their hard jobs in each other. He’s strong and fast but almost too kind and empathetic to be a bounty hunter.
Remy is Eliana’s younger brother. He loves stories and legends, often rewriting them and adding his own flourishes. He worries about Eliana and her job, even though she insists it’s for their benefit. Despite his protests though, he loves his sister dearly.
There are a great many other diverse and colourful characters but to avoid spoilers I can’t list too many here. Every time I’m tempted to say something I think better and erase it! I loved reading through this spoiler free and finding out each twist and reveal for myself. You guys should have the same.
The problem with having two main characters that you focus on is that one can easily be less interesting or fall by the wayside in terms of characterisation or plot. Not here. Both Rielle and Eliana are as equally captivating characters, similar in their strong characters and deep love for the ones they care about. I was gripped by both their stories and desperate to find out how they intertwine.
Both girls have struggles and flaws. For starters, they’re both stubborn and headstrong. Rielle resents being controlled and that Audric, as the prince, has been betrothed to their mutual friend Ludivine. Eliana, on the other hand, can’t be kept in check by anyone who tries! Her mother taught her how to kill and it has clearly affected Eliana from when she was young but she sees no other way to ensure that her family and Harkan are safe.
Rielle’s journey is similar to Mare Barrow’s in a way. Be dressed up and put on a show – if she fails, she will die. She must prove that she’s the Sun Queen, prophesied to defend the kingdom or they’ll put her to death as the Blood Queen, destined to destroy. Rielle’s journey is as much fighting her own inner battles, such as the control of her powers, as it is fighting to ensure her survival. What’s heartbreaking about her though is how desperately she wants to be loved and adored. Her friends are to be married, her father can barely stand to look at her and her mother passed away years ago. When she sees the crowds for the trials, she wants to be loved and admired by them.
Eliana is dragged somewhat kicking and screaming into a rebellion. Literally. She knows that getting involved with the Red Crown is a sure way to get her family killed. But with girls disappearing into the night and danger everywhere, she doesn’t have much of a choice. She seems a little hard and unsympathetic at first but she’s had to steel herself against doubt and guilt in her heart. If she lets it consume her, she will never be able to fulfil her duty as a bounty hunter. Her learning to trust people and let go of her edges are part of her development.
But neither of these girls are even half way done yet and I can’t wait to see what will happen to them in the sequel.
Magic and world building
Rielle’s world is one full of magic. There are seven types of elemental magic: fire, shadow, water, metal, sun, earth and wind. Rielle’s secret is that she can control all seven, even without a casting to focus her power. She has to undergo trials for each type of magic to prove her control and gifts.
I love the magic in this and especially the trials! If I had to choose, the metal trial was my favourite. My heart was in my throat the whole time.
Eliana’s world has no magic but makes up for it with assassins, conspiracy and Eliana’s seriously cool knives. They all have names, just to amp up the awesomeness. Eliana’s world is definitely a much less stable one than Rielle’s. It’s full of rebels and refugees and women disappearing in the night. She probably needs the knives TBH. But that doesn’t mean Rielle’s time isn’t full of danger. Sure, it might be less obvious but everyone has their own agenda. If Rielle underestimates them and what they want, she may end up killed. I hope we learn and explore more of both worlds in the next two books. I have so many questions of how we went from Rielle’s time of and royalty to Eliana’s uncertain period of war and cruelty.
I am seriously freaking out about this book. A few great series are ending this year and I’m thrilled that there’s a new trilogy to give me something to look forward to each year. It can be a bit frustrating – like I have to wait HOW long?! – but it can be so great when you get your hands on the next book in a series that you love.
Hang on. I take that back. Furyborn isn’t even officially released yet which means it’s aaaaaaaages until the second one even exists!
Anyway, this cover is fantastic and if all of them are this gorgeous I will gladly give all my money to have them on my shelves.
If I had to choose a favourite, it’s probably Rielle. Or at least, that’s probably what I would have said for the first half of the book, at least. Eliana was a little harder to love. She really closed herself off. She has these walls which, considering the world she lives is, is probably justified. At first I thought she was a bit hard and cold. She seemed so unfeeling to the plight of those who were so in need around her. Luckily that’s not the case and over time her walls come down. Rielle might still be my favourite but it’s Eliana’s story and character development that I’m most looking forward to seeing.
But at the moment it’s Rielle I feel most for. She seems quite lonely to me, what with her missing mom, distant father and the fact that her two friends are engaged. She has all this power and when she’s discovered it’s quite obvious that people fear her, separating her from them even more. Is it any wonder that she wants to be loved? I think the prologue makes my heart hurt even more for Rielle, knowing what will happen to her and how much she’s going to suffer.
This book kept me guessing and even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it! I love those books where it gets in your head until your mind is filled with magic and battles and royalty. There were twists that I suspected and twists that I didn’t see coming. I spent every second not reading wondering what might come next.
Final verdict: 5 stars. I’m buzzing from this book so badly I kind of want to read it again. I will definitely reread it when I get my hands on a physical copy. I’ve got to do something to get me through to the sequel!
Thank you to Netgalley for letting me have this arc! It was a brilliant experience for me having my first ARC be a book that I loved so much.
How excited are you for this book? If you happened to get a physical ARC copy in the November Fairyloot box, I am so jelly of you right now….