FURYBORN by CLAIRE LEGRAND
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Furyborn by Claire Legrand is the much-hyped first book in the Empirium Trilogy, a series of high fantasy novels set in the fictional world of Avitas. When Furyborn was first announced in 2018, I saw it everywhere. Everyone on Booktube was talking about it, ARCS (advance reader copies) were being given out in subscription boxes, and the social media blitz was undeniable. Furyborn was supposed to be the next big thing. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me as many YA fantasies are these days.
Furyborn’s premise hangs on the fact that there are two different protagonists in two different timelines: We have Rielle, a noblewoman with the power to control all the elements in the world, like a European fantasy version of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Then we have Eliana, assassin and maybe-immortal. These two women–both nineteen, I think–find themselves entwined in a centuries-old prophecy about the Sun Queen and the Blood Queen, neither of which are explained properly in the book. Not only that, Rielle and Eliana are 1000 years apart.
Yes, you read that right. 1000 years apart. Not 10. Not 100. 1000.
The massive time gap between the two storylines might be my biggest gripe with the book. It’s too big! It’s not feasible that, 1000 years after the events of Rielle’s storyline, Eliana’s begins. What’s worse is that nothing really changes between the two storylines, despite them being centuries upon centuries apart. The technology is still largely the same, the political factions are largely the same, and nothing is truly different aside from the fact that Eliana’s timeline has guns. Everyone in Eliana’s timeline is a bit too aware of Rielle’s time, if that makes sense. The events in Rielle’s timeline have become mythologized, but Eliana and her companions talk about them as if they were there. It’s an annoying disconnect that honestly distracted me so much that I couldn’t stop thinking about it as I was reading this 500 page book.
Just think, for a moment, how much has changed in our own world in the last 1000 years. In the last 10 years, even! I understand the desire for a timeskip, but 1000 years is too much. 100 would have sufficed, especially if the author wasn’t interested in making any huge changes to her world.
Aside from the unrealistic timeskip, another thing that irritated me about this book was the characters. I only really liked Rielle and found her story to be the most interesting. She has all this power and no idea what to do with it. Her growth from the first half of the book to the second half proved to be an interesting read. I wouldn’t exactly call it entertaining, but interesting nonetheless. On the other end of the spectrum, I kind of hated Eliana. She’s was so grating, all bluster and bravado. She’s called “The Dread Of Orline” for her deadly assassin skills, but we never see much demonstration of that, so every time someone calls her “Dread,” I just rolled my eyes because we as readers never saw in the narrative where the “dread” part of Eliana’s character comes into play. Eliana and Rielle are both supposed to be beautiful and incredibly powerful, but I never felt it with Eliana the way I did with Rielle. I always found myself skimming her chapters, which is something you never want to do as a reader.
As I mentioned previously, Furyborn is 500 pages long. The result of those 500 pages is a poorly paced story that drags on and on without much in the way of satisfying resolution. Eliana is dragged from place to place a lot, Rielle endures “trials” to test her powers–trials we know she’ll win for the sake of the plot. There’s a lot going on, but not a lot actually happens.
One last note before I go: Furyborn has explicit sexual content in it. It’s pretty graphic and detailed and representative of the current shift in YA to more “mature” themes. If you’d rather not read such things, steer clear of this book.
If you’d like to check out Furyborn, you can find our copy at the Oreana library!