By Cynthia Ayala
“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. 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. 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 spanning millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.” —Goodreads
Furyborn is a captivating story that is hindered only by its overwhelming predictability. Now that is not a bad thing, but it can turn the reader because they already know the eventual outcome. However, Legrand is very good at throwing in red herrings, keeping the reader on their toes but the fact that the story starts the way it does is unshakable, making it difficult for any of the red herrings to have any merit.
Despite that, however, the story remains fascinating in the way it goes back and forth from the past to the present. The story follows two female perspectives, different in tone, experience, and personality, and whom both live in different worlds. That is what makes the story compelling because, with a prologue as intense as this, to go back and focus on who she before makes the reader ask how she went from point A to point B, it is not hard to be invested in the story. Rielle is an exciting and complex character and her ending, the story’s beginning, is gripping. She is an intense character who feels so deeply, a character who struggles to prove herself and her control over her emotions. All of this makes her complex and interesting to follow, to see the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together to that ultimate ending of hers.
As for Eliana, her perspective is less appealing. Much of her narrative is very hard, very stiff, It reflects the hard times she lives in, but it does not serve to make her a captivating character. Her perspective shows a world long after the Rielle has passes away, centuries have passed between the two, and it is interesting to see two very different worlds exist. Just think, Rielle’s world is more like a romanticized renaissance period whereas Eliana’s life resembles more of the middle ages during the black plague. There are filters between the perspectives, built into the novel through tone and detail, giving the story two dimensions of the world. However, Eliana’s life is just so bleak, and her narrative, her hardness, and unyielding attitude do not make her a strong female character, it makes her almost bitter, unremorseful and cold, unlike Rielle. All of this does not make her likable for half the novel. The reader also knows the direction of her story which isn’t as compelling as Rielle’s journey. Again, the reader knows where her story is going, but the reader is drawn in by the mystery of how she gets there. That is the difference, and it is a big difference that impacts the reader. Eliana’s perspective does generate questions from the reader, but they are more about the world around her rather than about her.
Now, that is not to say there isn’t character development. It is interesting to see how these characters develop. While Rielle’s perspective is more interesting, making her more likable, her growth is slow and minimal. Her vitality is never ending which is why readers are going to connect with her more despite this. On the other hand, Eliana goes through an immense change. She evolves as a character. Parts of her personality remain the same, but the way she functions changes and influences her in different ways. Eliana learns to see the world differently, learns to empathize and sympathize and see the true villainy around her. By the end of the novel, she is a better character and the vitality in her changes. She is not just a character all around surviving; she is a woman bent on answers and revenge. That means something and makes an impact on the reader and the story.
Legrand showcases a keen ability to create intrigue and mystery. She creates wonder in the world she has established, and she makes the reader want to know how the world fell apart. It is intense how it functions, how these two worlds are so different. The reader is eager for the answers. As a beginning, it is an intense first novel to start a series with powerful momentum. (★★★★☆ | B)