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Furyborn by Claire Legrand


Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: 22 May 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart 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.”

My Thoughts: These last few years have been excellent for fantasy novels. They are escapism at its finest, as the worlds in such novels are so far removed from our own that we can forget about the insane headlines or the rest of our problems. The heroes allow us to live vicariously through them, fighting insurmountable odds to make a difference and change their world for the better. Plus, no matter how crazy the fantasy world is, it still makes more sense than the United States right about now.

I say all this because it shows I am thoroughly enjoying the fantasy genre these days. It is better than any so-called beach read. Novels like Furyborn make me happy. The combination of a world that contains magic and mythical beings, where women quite literally rule and save the day against overwhelming odds not only captures and holds my interest, such stories give me hope. More importantly, they inspire me. Often what the heroes of these stories have most of is a desire for change and an urgent need to right a wrong. I may not be able to call on the elements, cast spells, or wield a sword, but I can use the weapons I do have – my voice, my vote, my money – to right wrongs in my world and influence changes for the benefit of others. Such is the power of the fantasy novel.

Furyborn fits right into the reasons I love the fantasy genre. The story occurs within two very richly developed worlds with plenty of action and suspense to keep things interesting. There are multiple power struggles at play, only some of which we know. The situations within which Rielle and Eliana find themselves are often morally ambiguous, making it easier to sympathize with the difficult decisions they must make. The enemy is nebulous, mostly hidden; even as the story ends, we remain uncertain what the enemy’s true purpose is. There is a complexity to the entire story which allows it to transcend to the next level of story-telling.

What impresses me most about Furyborn is its complexity as well as the fact that Ms. Legrand does not spoon-feed her audience the particulars of her world. There is none of the lengthy exposition of the political situations or detailed descriptive passages building the world. Instead, we are thrust into Rielle’s and Eliana’s lives with no backstory. We must discern details about these worlds from context clues, and I love it. The action is intense and nonstop because there are no breaks to explain the situations. Moreover, we empathize with Rielle and Eliana because we don’t have the full picture; we only see the world through their eyes, especially in the beginning. Because Eliana’s story occurs 1,000 years after Rielle’s, we can piece together tidbits of information to form a greater picture of what happened during those lost years, which then provides greater context for Rielle’s story during the next narrator shift. Not only does this all make the story more interesting, it forces you to be an active reader, involved in deciphering the clues left by Ms. Legrand to build her world on your own. This, in turn, allows more room for flexibility in interpretation, as no one reader is going to have the same mental image as another.

In this way, Ms. Legrand takes a major chance on Furyborn. Not every reader is going to appreciate the role she forces readers to take. After all, this is almost the exact opposite of current trends, in which we are fed news at such a rapid pace that it leaves no room for interpretation or study; we have to rely on experts to give us our opinions about events. In Furyborn, Ms. Legrand takes a step back and requires readers to seek out the news and take the time to understand it without outside commentary. Some readers will not take the time to do so and will find the story confusing as a result. This is their loss. For the right reader, the one who not only recognizes what Ms. Legrand is doing, appreciates it, and becomes the intended careful reader, the story that unfolds is remarkable in its detail, its gray morality, and its exploration of survival and power with two heroines that elicit sympathy and generate empathy for their complicated plights.

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