Furyborn (Empirium, #1)by Published 22 May 2018
|Furyborn (Empirium, #1).pdf|
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, 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.
Furyborn (Empirium, #1) Reviews
🌹🌷 full review & rant now posted!! 🌷🌹
There are books I will never be able to remember even if my life depended on it, and there are books that I wish I didn’t remember. Furyborn is one of the latter.
I enjoyed parts of it? I hated others of it? I was confused about it, but also really bored, and I found it hard to actually care about it sometimes? (So basically, everything I feel towards myself.) I’m just a whole bunch of negative emotions right now.
A list of what disappointed me:
🌹 the bi rep?
🌷 the bi rep
🌹 THE BI REP
🌷 actually, the bi rep that didn’t feel like rep to me
🌹 the characters
🌷 the plot
🌹 the pacing
🌷 the predictability of certain plot twists
🌹 my… sudden inability to care about anything
🌷 so basically, a lot of things
And here’s a list of what didn’t disappoint me:
🌹 THE BEGINNING
🌷 two (2) characters. just two
I think that the problem with this book is that it has such an interesting and fabulous premise. There are so many tiny aspects of this world and the story taking place that are so fascinating, and it could’ve made a REALLY great novel… but it didn’t.
Those aspects really could’ve been amazing also if the book had not been 400+ pages long. It is unnecessarily long and it was PAINFUL to get through. Even worse, it was told through alternating viewpoints, making it even longer. Rielle’s chapters were mainly about very similar trials that we knew she would complete, so they were boring. Eliana’s chapters were filled with lots of action, but it was all pointless, with no ultimate goal to everything that was happening.
The beginning was super !! good !! and it was actually interesting !! The prologue got me instantly hooked*. The first few chapters were action-packed and well-paced. And then suddenly we get to a point in the book where things start to drag and I suddenly find myself not caring anymore. A shock.
*Actually, while the prologue was exciting and engaging, it gave away waaaay too much information. Certain plot twists that were revealed around the 75% mark were easily guessed… right after reading the prologue. This is not good writing? When your plot twists aren’t twists and more of a confirmation of a theory you’ve had 300 PAGES AGO, you have a problem??? (But I will give credit to certain plot twists that I didn’t see coming. Unfortunately they happened at the end when I had stopped caring about anything.)
The characters could have been SO GOOD. So, so good. But again (like everything else in this book!!!), the actual writing of them failed and whatever emotion I felt towards them at the beginning slowly faded away after the numbing apathy that comes when you have to read 500 pages of something you don’t like.
☼ RIELLE ☼
Rielle is a woman whose magical powers are discovered after a certain incident, and she is forced to complete trials to prove those powers. She is written as a good-person-soon-to-turn-evil, so this gives off the impression throughout the book that she is a morally grey character. Except… is she? Is she really anything but a character who alternates between lusting after a prince and an angel?
She also just got on my nerve a lot. I don’t know what it was about her, but there was something in the way that she was written that just made her SO annoying. And also, I can’t define any personality traits of hers. None. (Besides annoying.)
☼ ELIANA ☼
Eliana is a bounty hunter who kills to survive. But an attempt to write her as if she is three-dimensional, or the least bit interesting, fails, and she is instead written in two dimensions: One is the “I kill everyone and I fear no one and you can try to hurt me and you will FAIL” side, and the other is the “I am so guilty about everything and I’m going to get really angsty and I’m also going to do something reckless” side. It doesn’t work well.
She was a slightly better character than Rielle, in my opinion, but just like Rielle, it’s very hard to actually get an idea of what her character is like?? Because she is nothing but bland??
☼ AUDRIC, SIMON, & CORIEN ☼
I’m grouping these three together because they were the love interests. First of all: THAT SEX SCENE NEVER HAPPENED I DO NOT CLAIM IT. Second of all: There is a really weird love triangle between Rielle, Audric, and Corien. Except Rielle doesn’t want to be attracted towards Corien, but can’t help it. (Oh yes, totally healthy.) [spoilers removed] The romance between Eliana and Simon was weird, unnecessary, had no chemistry, and also, had a suspicious age gap (8 years). I found myself in between levels of “dislike” and “I don’t care” about all of these characters.
☼ REMY & NAVI ☼
These are the only two people I claim. Remy is a poor smol who deserves better, and Navi is a GAY ICON I TELL YOU SHE IS GAY SHE IS GAY SHE IS GAY.
Okay, and now the rant regarding… the bi rep, which was extremely messy. And vague. And unclear. And just so very hidden.
One main character is said to have flirted with both men and women, but that’s the only mention of it. There is nothing else to suggest that she is actually attracted to both men and women. Bi women can flirt however they like, of course!! But just saying that they flirted with both men and women doesn’t mean actual attraction to them and to me, it just doesn’t offer good rep.
And the second main character mentions that in the past, she has had sex with both men and women in order to get information… but that doesn’t equal actual attraction. She also talks about the best lovers she’s had, one male and one female. This can totally mean that she is attracted to women and men! But the way this was written, FOR ME, someone who is attracted to multiple genders, read off as her just enjoying sex with that woman. The act of only having or enjoying sex ≠ equal attraction.
And I don’t mean to shame sex at all—we need more sex positivity in books!! (In fact, though it was a very very strange scene because of the context of it, there was also female masturbation in this book, which is important to be normalized!) But to me, again, one enjoyed experience of sex in the past does not automatically equate to actual attraction. You can enjoy sex with someone, but it doesn’t mean that you’re actually attracted to that gender. (There is, of course, sexual attraction, but not even that seems to be implied.)
And I’m completely fine with the fact that both of these girls end up with male characters—if they’re bi, they’re bi, and the gender of their partner can’t change that. But I didn’t feel like they were bi at all, just straight, and if they WERE bi, it was really messy rep to me.
I also feel like I should mention that I personally felt like other side characters could be queer?? For example, Navi I feel is a SAPPHIC PRINCESS who loves girls, and I could feel romantic tension between her and Eliana. And also Ludivine! Who seems like she had feelings for Rielle!! I have no idea if anyone else got those vibes, or if it will be explored in the rest of the series, so it was probably just my Wishful Gay Thinking.
(If anyone has specific quotes or anything that clears some of these things up, I’d love to see them! Note that I read an ARC and it may change in final publication. But the way this all read to me as a multi-gender attracted person did not seem like actual bi rep. I PERSONALLY do not feel good calling this bi rep, but if you felt represented by this, yay!! That’s awesome, and your feelings are 100% valid! But so are mine.)
There is a chance that in the next books, the plot may have an actual point (wow!), the characters may actually be well-developed and fleshed out (omg!!), and bisexuality will actually be clarified and explored (amazing!)… but this particular book did a sore job of it. It’s a big no from me, and everyone can leave me alone all bi myself to cry in disappointment, good night.
// buddy read with scrill, sapphic queen, psych nerd, & danielle
Thank you to Sourcebooks for providing me with a review copy! This did not affect my opinion in any way.
ARC provided by Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.
✨ Pre-order campaign: Form Here! (US & Canada only, I'm sorry)
✨ Signed and personalized copies are available through my favorite book store: Books of Wonder!
“The queen stopped screaming just after midnight.”
Apparently, this is going to be a super polarizing book here on Goodreads, which is totally fine. Whatever your feelings are towards this book, they are totally valid. I did end up really enjoying it though. I thought it read like an adult high fantasy, I loved the constant juxtaposition between the two main protagonists, I thought it was high action back to back to back, and I loved how morally grey and ambiguous everyone was. Maybe this book just catered to my personal reading tastes a bit more than others, but I really loved reading this.
I loved the worldbuilding, I didn’t find it difficult to understand. I loved the fast paced and constant action. I ended up completely adoring many of the characters. I thought the writing was smart and lyrical. And I just overall thought this was an expertly crafted tale and made these two girl’s stories and parallels blend perfectly.
Furyborn is a book about two girls who are leading very different paths, from very different times:
“She was supposed to be the Sun Queen, their savior and protector. And yet she had become the Blood Queen. The Kingsbane. The Lady of Death.”
➽ Rielle Dardenne - A girl that has been forced to hide who she is her entire life. In this world, it is rare to have a magical power, but completely unheard of to be able to wield all seven, well, except in a prophecy. After a life or death situation, her kingdom finds out, and then she is forced to complete seven magical trials or be executed.
“We live in a world where good kings die and those foolish enough to hope for something better are killed where they stand.”
➽ Eliana Ferracora - A bounty hunter that is forced to work for the Empire, who put every rebel they find to death. In this world, this is the only way to survive, until Eliana’s family gets broken apart, and she is forced to truly see the world in a different light.
And one of the best prologues that I’ve ever read, shows the starts of how these two women are connected, despite their stories taking place one-thousand-years apart. We are also introduced to a prophecy about two queens, who will change the world and leave it impacted forever.
“Two Queens will rise.
One of blood. One of light.”
My favorite part of this entire book was seeing the juxtaposition between Rielle and Eliana constantly. This story is told entirely in alternating chapters/points of view of the two girls. They would be doing such similar things, a millennium apart, but we’d get to see the different reactions, choices, and actions they decided upon.
And we have a full cast of side characters who also have completely stolen my heart:
➽ Ludivine - My second favorite character, and an amazing representation of found family and the unconditional love we have for friends. And like, give me all the wonderful girl friendships!
➽ Audric - Rielle’s love interest, and the king in waiting. Also, a sweet cinnamon roll and powerful light bringer.
➽ Corien - I could write at least one page on this character alone. But he’s wonderfully crafted, and I can’t wait for you all to meet him.
➽ Remy - Eliana’s little brother, who is in love with stories and is just adorable in general.
➽ Navi - Princess from another country that truly stole my heart. Also, more friendship goals.
➽ Simon - Oh boy, I don’t even know how to talk about him. Simon ended up being my favorite character, but I can’t say much without spoiling things. He’s amazing, he’s caring, he’s selfless, and he’s a wonderful leader.
(Six of the Seven beautiful character cards created by Kate Trish!)
Next, I love you all, and these next two paragraphs aren’t directed at any one person. I’m only even writing them, because I’ve seen many reviews talking about both of the things I’m about to talk about. And both of these paragraphs are also going to be very personal to me, so please be respectful, and try not to hate me. Thanks.
I see a lot of people talking about how they feel the bi rep is bad because those characters think and talk about sex a lot, but I honestly think that’s such a dangerous way to think. Bi people/characters should be able to be promiscuous without the world yelling that it’s bad rep/bad actions. You all that do this set queer people back every time. And you only help to reinforce that stereotype. Hi, my name is Melanie, and I identify as pansexual, and you know what I like to have? A lot of sex. So, whenever people say things like this, it actually hurts me and makes me feel bad about myself. People should be able to have sex, a lot of sex, sex with one partner, sex with many partners, sex with themselves, and they shouldn’t be shamed for it. Literature, our society, and the damn world need more sex positivity. And you’ll never catch me shaming anyone or any book for having too much of it, as long as it’s healthy and consensual.
I also see a lot of people saying that there isn’t bi rep in this. Just because a bisexual ends up with the opposite gender, and only has sex on the page with the opposite gender, that doesn’t make them not (or less) bisexual. Both main characters, who both identify as female, state attraction to women, a few times, and that’s enough. Am I going to say this is the best rep in the world and I see myself so much on the pages? No. But am I going to discredit female bisexuals who are with men or who have never even been with a woman? Hell no. This is also super harmful thinking. Hi, my name is Melanie, and I identify as female pansexual, and you know what I’ve been in? A lot of monogamous relationships with partners that identify as male. People shouldn’t make bi/pan people only feel valid if their representation means they end up with the opposite sex/people who identify as nonbinary. Miss me with that gross line of thinking, please. Bisexuality is about attraction, not action, you don’t have to perform any action, sexual or not, to prove your bisexuality. And both these characters say they are attracted to women, one of them many times, despite her also performing sex work with females, which many are acting like that’s the only time she’s expressed attraction to women. Also, I’m not going to write a third paragraph about how we shouldn’t shame sex work, you all should just know better in 2018.
Okay, so moving on, the next thing I want to talk about is the portrayal of grief. I really appreciated the portrayal of grief and how real and constant it felt. And it is focused on by both of the leading protagonists throughout this novel. And even though this book is at least borderline New Adult, I still think YA and NA need so many more normalized stories of grief, and how it’s something you might always struggle with, with good days and bad.
And let me emphasize more, that this is a dark book that has constant dark actions and dark themes. When I said above that this reads like an Adult high fantasy, I truly mean it, even though I would consider this book New Adult, and even though it is marketed as Young Adult. Trigger/Content Warnings: Abuse, child abuse, death, gore, violence, abduction, kidnapping, animal cruelty, loss of a parent, loss of a loved one, sexual content, slavery, and torture.
Also, I’d like to touch on the animal abuse scene a bit more, because animal cruelty is one of two triggers that I personally have. Was the scene hard to read for me? Yeah, a bit. Do I think it was done in a malicious manner? No, not at all. Did the character feel really awful afterwards and remark on it a few times after the event took place? Yeah. And lastly, do I think it’s extremely believable that someone who doesn’t understand their powers would not think about harming an animal consequentially while using them to save the human being you love most in this world? Yes, 100% yes.
Okay, moving on to the romance. I was much more invested in Rielle’s romance than Eliana’s, which is maybe not the general consensus either. After reading the prologue, and knowing what happens between Rielle and Aurdric, I just became so invested to see the events that took place to make the events come to fruition. Like, I became obsessed. And I will read book two alone so that I can hopefully find out more. Also, yeah, there is sex in this book, but it’s tastefully done and for sure not anywhere close to the worst sex scene I’ve ever read. It was just a normal sex scene to me; nothing over the top and nothing bad. But it did heavily emphasize consent and making sure this was something that the woman wanted to do throughout the act. I loved that, and please give me more books like this.
“I don’t know how to both love you and be the person who sends you to war.”
But I really enjoyed this one, and I can’t wait to see where Claire Legrand takes these two interwoven tales next, especially with how both points of view leave off. I thought this was fun, and filled with action, and hard to put down each night. Also, give me all the *Breaking Benjamin voice* evil angelssssss! But I am excited to see how everyone feels upon release, since this does seem like a very polarizing book thus far.
You know who I really think would enjoy this book? Fans of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen! Now, I know that that series is super polarizing, and I was such a strange reader and gave the entire trilogy three stars, but I truly kept thinking how much Furyborn reminded me of that series. But, dare I say? Better. It reads and feels better. Yet, if you liked The Queen of the Tearling, I would 100% recommend this to you still.
Overall, reading is subjective. And something that one person loves, another could just as easily hate. And one ownvoices reviewer can think the rep is bad in a book, where another could really appreciate and love it. As long as someone isn’t personally coming into my house and bothering me or my loved ones, I’m not going to fight someone over a book. Let people enjoy the things they love, and let people dislike the things they hate. But remember, telling a person their feelings aren’t valid is never a good look.
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
(Massive) buddy read with:
💗 Jessica at fringereading
💗 Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills
💗 Julie at Pages and Pens
💗 Alexis at The Sloth Reader
💗 Destiny at Howling Libraries
💗 Jules at JA Ironside
💗 Jenn at I Will Seize the Day
💗 Lilly at Lair of Books
💗 Imogen at Imi Reviews Books
💗 Lourdes at Chapters We Love
💗 Paula at Je Speak Franglish
💗 And Rian
Release date: May 22, 2018
This was a really fun read! There are a lot of location names that sound vaguely like Game of Thrones names, some almost sci-fi stuff, and a LOT of magic, castles, princes, and adventure. There was even a character who completely reminded me of the Darkling. The story kind of felt like some roller coaster blend of epic elements at times, so I was pretty entertained. The diversity was great to see, too!
Rielle is kind of a special snowflake because "no human who has ever lived has been able to control more than one element. Not even the saints." But she's waaaay past that whole one element limit. Her story is mostly about how she has to go through seven trials to test her powers and prove she can control her abilities so she can serve the crown prince she loves. And then the rest of the story is pretty well explained in the book description. I wasn't super into the romance, but it was fine.
There are 2 stories going at once that take place thousands of years apart, so it did take me a bit to get into everything. I was super into the first half (the second half of the book got a little odd and lost some of my interest, but it's still fun). If you love YA fantasy then you'll probably like this one too!
Oh, and I thought it was hilarious how there were part human/angel characters who had marks on their skin and then the villain was a white-haired guy named Valentine. Just saying...
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.
This was REALLY fun, especially in the first 50%. I'll definitely pick up the sequel.
Only minor spoilers below - nothing big.
Let's start with the prologue because holy crap that was fantastic. Way to suck me in, Claire. Anyway, we're thrust into an intense birth-and-escape scene where Queen Rielle delivers her daughter and shoves her into the arms of a young boy-Simon- telling him he must escape and save her life. Simon basically witnesses this whole horrific scene with the queen and an angel that has come for her before whisking the baby to safety. (Safety meaning years and years later because Simon has that type of magic.)
The first chapter takes us years previous before Rielle becomes the ever-famous 'Blood Queen'. We follow her story as her life leads up to the inevitable prologue. Additionally, as a dual POV, we watch her daughter years in the future, who has no idea her real heritage. We learn of a prophecy, one that speaks of the coming of a 'Sun Queen' and a 'Blood Queen'. Thanks to the prologue, we know Rielle is the 'Blood Queen'.
Anyway, I was super invested in Rielle's story, especially knowing how it 'ends'. It's almost a villain origin story, except Rielle's heart stays true. I don't want to spoil much, but her story begins when the kingdom discovers she can control all the elements with her magic, not just one like the rest of the population. They assume she is the long-foretold Sun Queen, and to prove she is the Sun Queen and not the Blood queen, she must complete Trials in front of the kingdom. She also has a bit of a forbidden romance with Audrik , the prince, though there are about a billion things keeping them apart. Anyway, phew her scenes are super riveting, especially at first. While she's completing the Trials (which are cruelly put together), she hears a voice. She grows to know the voice as Corien and discovers he is an angel. (Which again, we know Corien is the one she tries to save her daughter from in the prologue.)
Then we have Elianna, her daughter. In her time, she's known as the "Dread of Orline" - she's something like a bounty hunter. Think Celaena Sardothian from the 'Assasin's Blade' - or something like that. She's a bit of an anti-hero--she's fierce and doesn't listen to anyone, but somewhere in there, she has a good heart. We don't know what happened to the boy that saved her as a baby, and she doesn't remember any of that. She was raised by another family and pretty much only cares about them and no one else. BUT her 'mother' goes missing and Elianna gets mixed up with a man called the "Wolf' who makes her a deal to find her mother if Elianna will help him.
So blah blah the story jumps in two different directions.
Anyway, the pacing was batshit crazy. Like, there isn't a single dull moment. I almost wonder if it was *too* fast at times, but I applaud Claire's ability to suck the reader in and keep them turning the page. Expect a ton of action and intrigue. I honestly thought this would be a 5-star book up until the last 70%. I think at that point though, the crazy fast pacing lost me a bit. I felt like everything was a bit lackluster to the build-up, but that's only a personal opinion. I feel like things with Simon + Elianna were a bit rushed [spoilers removed] - I think Elianna's character arc felt like it came out of left field. As far as Rielle, I still like her a lot, and I loved the whole struggle with Audrik vs Corien. I think at the end, I was just expecting a big blow up with Corien vs Elianna, but nothing really happened. (Soooo I'll be back for a sequel...)
Oh well, whatever. The story was fun! Corien was a fantastic villain - I'm super intrigued by him. If you know me, I'm a sucker for a good villain.
Do I recommend this? You bet.
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These are the books of my heart. I've been working on them for thirteen years.
It's a story about two young women deciding how to use their power--for good or for evil, or maybe to fight a war, or maybe not at all. These girls make lots of mistakes. They fall in love and they tell many lies. They do great things and they do awful things--sometimes to save the people they love. Sometimes to save themselves. Sometimes just for the hell of it.
It's a story about faith--how it can help, and how it can hurt. It's about god and rage and war and grief, and grappling with the dark side of humanity, and how to keep fighting for what's right even when it would be much easier not to.
It's about magic and temptation, sacrifice and desire, rage and belief. It's about monsters both profane and divine. It's about digging down into that deep burning place in your heart and telling yourself to stand up. It's about helping others who can't stand on their own, and broken people coming together to make a whole.
Also, there's kissing. Lots of it.
I'm so excited to share these books with you. <3