Set to be released in North America on May 22, 2018, Furyborn is Claire Legrand’s new stunningly original, must-read fantasy that features two strong, powerful young women who find themselves drawn into an age-old magical prophecy neither of them can escape – even a thousand years apart.
(I would like to thank Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for providing me with an Advance Reader’s Copy of Furyborn by Clair Legrand in exchange for an honest review).
Furyborn follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world – or doom it. 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.
I received an Advance Reader Copy of Furyborn in the November 2017 FairyLoot Box, and as soon as I unboxed this one I was so excited to read it! However, the size of this book was slightly daunting (over 500 pages!), so it sat on my bookshelf for a couple months until felt ready to tackle it – and I am so glad that I did, because while Furyborn isn’t perfect, it is a highly enjoyable read, with a rich world that spans a millennia, a well-developed magic system, and a cast of intriguing characters.
“We live in a world where good kings die and those foolish enough to hope for something better are killed where they stand.” – Claire Legrand, Furyborn ARC, p.58
Claire Legrand immediately begins to develop her fictional world by effectively introducing a variety of characters, historical contexts, and interconnected settings with ease – all while avoiding the classic trap of info-dumping. By having Rielle’s story line, Legrand easily built the historical context for Eliana’s story line – but she also kept the world in Rielle’s story quite concise and contained, meaning that it felt very well rounded, despite its noticeably smaller scope. Eliana’s world, as a result of her travels, was quite broader, but the contexts developed in Rielle’s timeline (of angels, neighbouring nations and magic) made the scope much more manageable and easily understood. Therefore, as a reader, I never felt confused about the function of the different aspects of the Furyborn world.
“The Gate will fall. The Angels will return and bring ruin to the world. You will know this time by the rise of two human Queens – one of blood, and one of light. One with the power to save the world. One with the power to destroy it. Two Queens will rise. They will carry the power of the Seven. They will carry your fate in their hands. Two Queens will rise.” – Claire Legrand, Furyborn ARC, p.103
This development bleeds over into the magic system – which is most present in Rielle’s story. Legrand kept the magic system quite concise and limited, but this was (in my opinion) to her benefit. By clearly stating the different types of magic workers, such as Lightbringers and Earthshakers, Legrand outlines a familiar yet original magic system, with the magic wielders drawing power from the power of the universe – called Empirium. Furthermore, Rielle’s trials give the reader a very personal and in depth look at how, exactly, magic works in Legrand’s fictional world, a unique but effective way to introduce the reader to the magic system. Legrand also introduces magical foes and friends – Angels, who are feared and exiled from society, and the Two Queens, one to save the world and the other to bring it to ruin. These factions are explored at length and expanded upon with all the necessary detail.
Legrand also created two casts of intriguing and memorable characters – notably Rielle and Eliana themselves. Rielle is exposed as being able to control each force of elemental magic – therefore identifying her as one of the Queens – so she’s required to endure magical trials to prove her allegiance to the country. She is helped through these trials by her friends – especially the Crown Prince Audric and his fiance Ludivine. Eliana is a bounty hunter working for the Undying Empire after it conquered her kingdom – one thousand years in the future. After her mother vanishes, she’s thrust into a new life and discovers the true horrors of the world around her, with her brother and the ominous bounty hunter Wolf (Simon) by her side. Both women are strong, powerful, and motivated to achieve their goals, despite the darkness that lurks within them.
“I can see all the machinations of the world in your eyes.” – Claire Legrand, Furyborn ARC, p.49
While Furyborn stands out in regards to its complex plot throughout the entire novel, Furyborn is almost two separate novels in one – and this isn’t necessarily always a good thing. I enjoyed this method of storytelling because as the reader progresses through the story, small hints and references are made that connect both timelines, weaving two very different stories into one connected narrative in ways the reader will not see coming. This makes it intriguing to keep reading to understand how the world got from the world Rielle lives in to the world Eliana exists in. However, especially at the beginning of the book, I struggled with the parallel story lines, as the chapters were shorter than I would have liked, and I often became confused by what was happening in which story. In addition, I found it hard to really “get into” either story, because I never spent enough time with either one to fully engage with it.
Overall, I really enjoyed Furyborn. From the depth of the world-building, the the well-rounded magic system, and the powerful cast of characters, it was a book I greatly enjoyed, despite the fact that the storytelling had the potential to be confusing and alienating (4/5).