Oh wow, where do I even begin with this book? So, first off, I thought I would like this book. The synopsis gives a nice hint at the political intrigue and of course, there are dragons. I was unprepared for how much I would love this book! From the incredibly real and complex characters to the world, fresh and still finding its feet after a revolution and oh yes, the dragons were incredible.
The book opens with a prologue on the final day of the revolution where Lee's family has been murdered and he is being attacked by the revolutionaries who have stormed the palace. The First Protector and leader of the revolution sweeps in and saves his life. Then the main action of the book begins nine years later. The book switches points of view between Lee and Annie, a fellow orphan he falls in with after the chaos of the revolution. It's so interesting to see how Lee deals with his history and the new reality of his present. One of my favorite examples of this was seeing him strive throughout the book for a dream he had since childhood before the horrors of the revolution. It's a dream he must have thought he had to abandon and I loved seeing him to his best to achieve it while also hiding how deeply it was affecting him. Annie was such an easy character to love. She was whip-smart and an amazing rider on her dragon but she's still incredibly insecure. Lee remarks on the difference between the confident Annie in the air versus the shy quiet girl on the ground. The prejudices from before the revolution are still hanging around and Annie was part of the lowest class and so she lets others comments about her potential ability get to her. The side characters were just as well written as Lee and Annie though a real standout for me was Power. He's an insufferable arrogant little shit but he's my insufferable arrogant little shit. I was not prepared to care about him as much as I do (like come on his name is Power!)
The world Fireborne is set in was fascinating to read. I loved seeing how the leaders of the revolution decided to restructure their new society. I found the metals structure so interesting. All children receive schooling and in their final year (around age 15) they are given a test to determine what work would best suit them. The highest level is Gold, they are the leaders in the country, the new elite. The next level is Silver, they are the military force of the country. Then there is Bronze, they are the skilled laborers like bakers and farmers. Finally, the lowest level is Iron, they are the unskilled laborers like factory workers. I also, of course, loved the dragons. There are three different species of dragons. Stormscourage are the biggest and toughest, Skyfish are the quickest, and Aurelian's seem to sit right in the middle of those two. Baby dragons choose their rider, there's a deep emotional connection that rises between rider and dragon. While they don't read each other's thoughts or communicate in that way they can share in each other's emotions, especially in times of great stress. I found the turmoil surrounding when the dragons would finally "spark" and be capable of producing dragonfire and not just hot ash very intriguing. It's not something I can recall reading about before and I thought it was such a unique aspect to explore.
This book has so many twists that took me completely by surprise. A few even made me put down the book because I was so shocked. I look forward to picking up a finished copy in October though, I can't believe how unbearable the wait is going to be for the sequel!