Fireborne is a story about family and the future. Taking place nine years after a bloody revolution that turned society on its head, Fireborne is about the world the ashes left behind.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Fireborne is about who is born from the ashes of revolution. In the moments of anger, heat, and pain what will we become and how much of us will remain? Told from dual perspectives, Anne and Lee, Munda asks the characters if we are where we’ve come from or if we have the ability to transcend our prejudices. There are questions of privilege, merit, and ethics. It is fiercely political, asking questions about propaganda and censorship implicitly. Our characters are all asked whether the world they know is better than before, or just the same system with a different name.
I couldn’t help but fall in love with Annie. Sure Lee is charismatic and faces this conflict between right and wrong, between the past and the future. Discovering the truth behind our family, behind what we have been taught, and our own memories. Lee feels the pull of wanting something familiar, a shred of the past. But Annie was the character who stole my heart. She’s shy, powerful, and clever.
There are so many forces coming against Annie. She lives in this new society where we are supposed to only be judged for our merits, but Annie shows us how we can’t change society overnight. The prejudices and discrimination don’t just evaporate with new titles. Annie is looked down upon because of her background. Fireborne is as much her story as Lee’s as as she struggles to see her own worth, to come to terms with the new government (and her role in it), and to find her own voice.
Themes and World
But where I took so many notes was in the world building of Fireborne. In the midst of this government upheaval, the characters are asked how can we make a system better for everyone? And how much change can we really impact? We like the sound of things – like being tested only for merit, not for our birth – but then there are other factors like learning disabilities that illustrate it’s always more complex. Are there roles we are just born into? What information should people have access to, and the danger of interpretation.
All of these questions, and more, are asked throughout Fireborne. What is the lesser evil? There’s the harsh realities of war, causalities, and famine. Can we really do this to the people around us? Our neighbors? What makes our brand of cruelty different? And the quintessential conflict between nature and nurture.
Fireborne is a complex book. Focusing on politics and ethics, Fireborne does not cease to ask the difficult questions. I cannot wait to see how these characters will grow and evolve. The choices they will have to make. It’s one of those books that shows readers the choices people will have to make. It’s not about the savior, or the leader, but the soldiers on the ground, and their choices. What can the individual do? At the end of the day, who can they save?