Author: Rosaria Munda
Audiobook Length: 14 hours
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone–even the lowborn–a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.
Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.
But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.
With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.
Fireborne is the debut novel in the Aurelian Cycle series. The stories are a reimagining of Plato’s Republic, which I have not experienced before in a modern-day novel. I commend the author greatly for even attempting this as it was a lofty goal. As a standalone, this story would have just been okay to me, however, I have hope that it will only go up from here and the next one will be excellent. It is a story that takes time to get involved with as I did not really care much about what was happening at the beginning, but now I find myself anxious to find out what happens in the next installment. The one thing I can say is that there are dragons in this story, but they do not play a huge role or at least as big of a role as I thought. It could change in the future novels, but there were less dragon-centric pages than I anticipated. I did not consider this a negative as the amount of dragon appearances worked with the story, but I wish I had a hint of it before beginning so I could lower my expectations a little.
Our two main characters are Annie and Lee. They were orphaned as children and formed a friendship. The story takes place mainly with the two of them as sort-of star-crossed teenagers where Lee obviously has feelings for Annie, but it took a long time for me to think Annie had the same for Lee. It was hinted at and discussed a little, but it was not as obvious as Lee’s was for her. Lee’s past is huge crux of the story as there are a lot of secrets that can affect their potential relationship as a couple or even as friends. A lot of the story circles back to their interactions and details of their friendship. There are a group of side characters that are featured, but I did not find myself connecting to the majority of them. I did, however, like Power as he is a character where you do not know how he will turn out, yet he made the reading experience interesting. He may turn out one way or another, but I found myself at least being entertained with his general existence in the story.
Each chapter features three narrators – the main narrator, Annie, and Lee. It created a unique practice as I have not had chapters being read by multiple narrators before. Typically, it is one narrator per chapter and the main narrator will voice everyone else before it switches to another narrator. It added a very unique element to my experience and it made me wish that more stories would follow this line of thinking. All three narrators were excellent and gave a new layer to the reading experience and helped keep me interested when the pacing was a little slower. The traumas from Annie and Lee’s pasts were conveyed well by the narrators and the writing, as you sympathized with both of their backstories and their struggles to move forward. There are some inconsistencies in their characters, but it was difficult to tell if it was intentional or a mistake on the author’s side. I will have to see how the next novel turns out as I could not make a judgement call based on this novel alone.
There is a lot of information in this story with incredible detail as the world is built up. Unfortunately, it meant the pacing suffered a little as at times it went too much into detail and focus was taken away from moving the plot along. This was an interesting novel as I felt that the story dragged for almost three quarters of it and in the moment felt like nothing actually happened, but there was actually a lot packed in during those pages upon reflection. Definitely by the end, it picked up a lot and, as this is a series, it does end on a semi-cliffhanger where you need to read the next one to see what happens to all of the characters and the plot.
Overall, I am thrilled that I did the audiobook version compared to the novel/ebook. Some of the pieces from the chapters were difficult to tell whose point of view they were supposed to be as they did not distinguish themselves enough from each other. With the audiobook, it was clear who I was focusing on because of the narrator. This novel has a massive amount of potential and I can definitely see how tons of people loved it. For me, there were flaws that made it feel more like a draft (not a first draft, but maybe one down the line), than a final copy. However, there were a lot of elements that overrode any negativities and made me become invested in the story. I feel that the pieces that I did not enjoy could easily be “fixed” in the next novel to become semi-perfection as this one just missed the mark in some areas. Generally, a great novel featuring childhood friends, a revolution, secrets, politics, and, of course, dragons! There is a lot that could potentially happen in the next novel and I cannot wait to find out more!