Furyborn, a tale of two Queens
Wow, I must say wow. I was blown away by this book and confused but mostly blown away. I believe this was the author's first entrance into YA Romance Fantasy, usually, I am not about this. For a few reasons, I come to fantasy to escape, it is my preferred genre, so I hold it to a high degree. Usually, the world-building is weak in place of a lot of smut of romantic pining, and while we certainly got the characters chasing skirts, I didn’t hate it. The sex scene did surprise me, but I will get into that later.
I’ll start as I usually do, with Worldbuilding.
Rielle and Eliana live 1,000 years apart, one in a prospering world and one where the Gate to the Depths is shattering releasing angels into the world. Rielle is the daughter of the King's guard Captain and as such spends many of her days playing and falling for the prince. The world explores a myriad of Saints and stories of how the world once ways and the creation of the Gate that trapped the angels forever. It was really cool to have Rielle experience the artwork of her time and listen to the stories people tell around her without truly listening to them.
It has a wonderful magic system that is built with limits but it was closer to a soft magic than a hard magic, think Air Benders (ATLA) to Alchemist (FMB) It wasn’t explained if anyone can wield magic but those that can world with the church and pray to the saints to channel their power. It’s mentioned once in a quote before the chapter that casters work with metal smiths to create an object that the wielder can use to channel their magic. Rielle does not need that as she has a connection to the Empirium, the magical force similar to leylines. It makes her a little OP but it's part of a prophecy and was used to win the love of the masses.
My biggest hindrance with this novel was the shift in time didn’t feel 1,000 years apart. Rielle’s world is of swords and magic, and Eliana’s world is of swords and guns. Now if we were to take a look at our world and see how much things can change in 200 years, i.e. the industrial era, compared to say England 1,000 years ago, we can truly see a shift in the world. From our technology to the places people concurred the spice trades, the revolutions of the industrial age, hell even smartphones. Even if we push the timeline before the industrial era and into the height of seafaring piracy and gunpowder, it still feels more like 500 years between the two characters.
I understand that the world Eliana lives in has been under the control of the Undying Emperor and thus progress is slow. But we have laboratories, where scientists experiment on living girls to change their bodies into monsters. This is some mad scientist shit, and we only have guns and cannons for weapons. It feels almost steampunk but not quiet and I would have loved to see that.
I wish we had gotten more of the architecture in Rielle’s time so that in Eliana’s she can see the ruins of the world and we can feel that tragedy. It would be difficult seeing how Rielle lives in Celdaria, the seat of power in Eliana’s time, while she is half a world away in Ventera. I hope to see something like that in the second book, mostly from Simon's view but I’ll get into that with Characters and plot.
Either way, I did like the worldbuilding, it didn’t hold me back with the shifting timelines. I hope to see a more diverse world in the second book and look forward to the rest of the series.
I was really drawn into the book because of the writing. The first few pages were amazing, I didn’t understand why Simon's father threw himself from the Queens tower, but I moved past it. The writing was great. My only hindrance would be between the two pov’s, they didn’t feel different. They were both written as show-off characters, who were overly thirsty for hot, heavily built men. I truly could only tell the difference between the two by what they were doing. Rielle participates in her Trials, and Eliana fighting to survive. I understand they are *Spoiler*
Mother and daughter.
But that isn’t enough of a reason for them to be written the same. I wish Rielle spoke in a more high lady tone, with that darkness lurking from her father's hate and her mother's death. While Eliana did speak as someone desperate to survive and protect those around her, which made sense for her world.
I started to see Rielle’s story as more of a tragedy after she started speaking with Corien, purely because of that first chapter that gave too much away. We know that Rielle will become the Blood Queen, we know she will kill the man she loves, and we know she dies to hurt Corien and protect her daughter from him.
Corien is an angel who needs her power to break the Gate and find a body to claim his revenge on the world.
While Eliana was born into this world and became a puppet for the Emperor to protect her family. She works for the very people who killed her people and conquered her homeland. But as she learns more and meets Simon, her need to protect her family takes hold and she goes with him. Sidenote, I had an idea early on that Eliana would be a far descendant of Rielle’s daughter who escaped with Simon. Then Simon showed up and I knew there was some time travel, portal shit that happened between the two.
The book ends with Rielle being named the Sun Queen and Eliana becoming the true Sun Queen.
Rielle is the daughter of the Captain of the King's guard. I’m not sure if she was supposed to be written as a morally- grey character or if she was supposed to be tragic. Either way, I read her as a tragic character but she felt too cocky, someone who didn’t feel the danger she was in until children are put in danger and then her teacher. She’s a very selfish character, taking what she wants when she wants it, whether that be Audric’s love or the people’s. She does things if she can gain something from it. And that selfishness and power hunger is her downfall. I just wish her greed was a little more upfront and less hidden.
Where her mother is selfish, I found Eliana to be a very selfless character. Her actions are motivated by her will to survive and protect her family. She has no sense of self-preservation because her body has never been put in danger, she has never felt in danger. Eliana is not so much a weapon, just a person hiding her humanity to make her job easier. She hates herself for it but won’t admit it to anyone but her brother. I didn’t find her to be annoying or bland, I would take her over Celaena from the TOG books any day of the week.
Also, I guess she’s BI, it was more of a throwaway line which was sad. It would have been nice to have her also pining after some pretty girls but maybe we’ll get more of that in the second book.
The sex scene. I was not expecting it to be that... long. I was expecting a fade to black thing, but we didn’t get that and honestly, I’m happy with that. We do need more sex-positive in books, and it was better than others I’ve read that had the female lead lose control of her power. (Looking at you Fourth Wing.)
But Audric alone wasn’t much of a character. He lusts after Rielle and really is only there for her, he doesn’t feel like a prince and rarely speaks about anything but her and the Two Queen prophecy. Honestly, I was expecting Audric to become a sort of abuser and love her dearly because of her Sun Queen power and use her to better himself, but he doesn't, he is just a lovey-dovey boy toy.
Hello Wolf Boy. I was excited when Simon showed up. I liked their dynamic, the witty bickering, the heat that came mostly from Simon in the beginning then both of them. I was here for it after the fight to free Navi when the two of them worked as a powerhouse. He was broody and snappy but that was about it. When to truth comes out that he’s known Eliann since she was born and knew what she was the whole time his personality turns. He changed into a sappy boot licker. He was already on the way there but I thought it was really strange that we took this powerhouse of a couple and turned one into a loyal puppy dog. Maybe I read into it wrong but it didn’t sit with me very well.
Die in a hole. Fucking psycho.
I was happy to read this, it was really enjoyable, and I liked the ride. While I had my problems with it, they didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I look forward to seeing some growth in the BI rep, hopefully with the next book and maybe some better definitions between the characters and more play on the tragedy that will be Reille and Audric. Either way, I am excited for the rest. In the end, I will rate this a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Primarily because of the characters and some of the world-building. Let's see what the other two will bring.