A huge thanks to PenguinTeen for giving me a free digital copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
Missed my review of the first book, Fireborne? Check it out here. Possible spoilers if you haven’t read the first book.
Title: Flamefall (The Aurelian Cycle #2)
Author: Rosaria Munda
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Expected release date: March 23, 2021
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 336 pages (U.S. hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “After fleeing the revolution and settling into the craggy cliffs of New Pythos, the Dragonlords are eager to punish their usurpers–and reclaim their city. Their first order of business was destroying the Callipolan food supply. Now they’re coming for the Dragonriders.
Annie is Callipolis’s new Firstrider, and while her goal has always been to protect the people, being the government’s enforcer has turned her into public enemy number one.
Lee struggles to find his place after killing kin to prove himself to a leader who betrayed him. He can support Annie and the other Guardians . . . or join the radicals who look to topple the new regime.
Griff, a lowborn dragonrider who serves New Pythos, knows he has no future. And now that Julia, the Firstrider who had protected him, is dead, he is called on to sacrifice everything for the lords that oppress his people–or to forge a new path with the Callipolan Firstrider seeking his help.
With famine tearing Callipolis apart and the Pythians determined to take back what they lost, it will be up to Annie, Lee, and Griff to decide what to fight for–and who to love.”
One of the things I enjoyed about Fireborne is the intricacy and depth of the plot and story overall. While it took me a bit longer to really “get” into the plot of Flamefall, I found it just as riveting and captivating. We pick up only a few days after Book 1 ended. I liked the contrast of Callipolis and New Pythos, the fighting of the old regime versus the new regime intriguing, as it was something Lee seemed to struggle with internally but now we see this struggle externally and the repercussions of Lee’s actions at the end of Book 1 become a focal point in Flamefall. I admit that I grew frustrated in some instances, especially between Lee and Annie and even with our new character, Griff. I always find it interesting, too, how those who ushered in the “new regime” are still falling back to some aspects on the old regime of Lee’s father and are definitely benefiting from it. It was also a bit of a revelation when I was realized Callipolan’s fleet of dragons are completely made up of teenagers. We don’t see any of the adults taking their spot as riders. This might be a “duh” moment to some, but the amount of power this put into the hands of teenagers is astounding, and they truly do seem to carry the weight of the world–and its future–on their shoulders. I liked how events throughout the book played out, despite how frustrating some may have been and how many times I wanted to smack Lee!
I found the events in New Pythos, involving Griff and the dragonlords there, completely entrancing. Frustrating, for sure, (as that seems to be one of the common themes while reading this book), but also…liberating and brave. I’m really looking forward to see how this evolves, especially as we have a bit more expansion of the world itself beyond Callipolos and now New Pythos.
Right off the bat I was taken aback by the new POV of Griff, a dragonrider of New Pythos, an island that is still stuck in the ways of the old regime despite letting lowborn people ride. Automatically, readers can see what New Pythos lacks and despite giving the ability to ride and have a dragon doesn’t mean people like Griff are treated equally. The sense of yearning and desire between Griff and Delos, Griff’s lord, is felt so keenly as well. The same could almost be said of Lee and Annie. I’ve liked the two of them from the get-go, especially how much they mean to each other, how they’ve confided in one another, and to see that ripped apart in this book was difficult. But there is hope! The revelation regarding Lee is taken pretty well by his fellow dragonriders but even less so by those adults in power. The tension between Lee and Atreus was near palpable, and I found Lee’s anger quite fitting.
I really wanted to like Julia, too. Even though we don’t see her in Book 2, I hoped she was…different. But as we follow along those in New Pythos, we see that wasn’t the case. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes and ground my teeth in frustration so much regarding her role at New Pythos. I think I wanted her to be different, that the author would shout, “Kidding!” in regards to the end of Book 1.
I will continue to applaud Munda’s world-building. It’s incredible in this series, which can only mean it’ll get even better in Book 3. These characters and their world really pull you in and we’re left not really sure, in a sense, if this new regime in Callipolis is truly better, or if we’re seeing the faults and cracks in what they thought was “better.” I’m definitely excited to read the final book (even though this one isn’t out yet, haha) and see where we finally land with Lee, Annie, and now Griff.
Check out these other reviews:
- YA Lit Ramblings highly recommends this book.
- Alexis at From the Library of Alexis said this is one of her favorite trilogies.