Review: Kingsbane – Claire Legrand

Review: Kingsbane – Claire LegrandKingsbane by Claire Legrand
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: May 21, 2019
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four-stars

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength―and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien―but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity's long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption―fear of becoming another Rielle―keeps Eliana's power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted―by embracing her mother's power, or rejecting it forever.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Finding a way to review Kingsbane is basically impossible. First and foremost this book almost killed me. Not because it is almost 600 pages (those big books can be dangerous!!!) but because it took all my emotions and threw them in a blender and then tried to make me choke on them. I know, I know, it sounds dramatic, but trust me, it’s not. I was terrified to finish Kingsbane. So much so that it took me a solid month to read it. I was scared where Claire would leave off and when all is said and done, I was right to be afraid. This book took me on an emotional roller coaster and the ride still is not done.

I honestly have no idea what to say about this book. I’m still kind of broken by the whole ordeal. Kingsbane picks up right where Furyborn left off and it doesn’t slow down. Eliana and Rielle are both fighting a war centuries apart and the decisions they make will in some way affect the other.  Both women are on their own journeys and trying to find a way. Rielle thinks she knows what she is supposed to do and what side she is on, but she has forces working against her. Eliana on the other hand just learned her role in this sordid story and is grappling what that means to her and for her family and friends around her. Every decision these women make has repercussions and consequences and you can feel that with every turn of the page.

The truth for me with Kingsbane is I was more invested in Eliana’s story. Don’t get me wrong, Rielle has a great story and I really think it is going to hit its stride in book 3, but for me, Kingsbane was about Eliana. Her world was the one that changed the most. She had the rug pulled out from under her and was left to pick up the pieces and figure it all out which relying on people she was just learning to trust. Plus I really love all of her supporting characters more than Rielle’s (minus Audric). But the thing about Eliana’s story is I have no idea where it is going. Rielle you know because it is in the past so you have a road map, but Eliana you have no idea what is coming and how it will all go down.

Without saying too much, this book was amazing. There was a twist that took place that I am still reeling from. Did I love it as much as Furyborn? No. That book was super special to me. But I did think it was awesome. It set up everything that will go down in book 3 to perfection and I personally cannot wait to see how it all ends…if the wait doesn’t kill me first that is. Definitely, a series that needs to be read.

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Barely Have the Words (1)

I was looking at some of my 5 star reads, some read almost 3 years ago, that I still need to review. I realized there are some books I love so much I’m not sure I will ever be able to put into words how I really felt about them so welcome to my new feature, Barely Have the Words. I can’t adequately review this books since “READ IT” doesn’t really tell you how it made me feel, but this is my start:

Barely Have the Words (1)Sadie by Courtney Summers
Published by Wednesday Books
Published: September 4, 2018
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five-stars

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she's left behind. And an ending you won't be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

It has been months since I read this and I still can’t accurately put my feelings into words. I know this is the best Courtney Summers book I have read to date and left me emotionally wrecked.  It is dark, and hard to read, and what can be ugly about the world, but it is a story of love and strength too. It broke my heart into tiny pieces and worth every sliver. Sadie was a broken girl and justice was her only way to deal with how truly demolished she was. But even with all the sadness and the pain Sadie is worth the read. Not only is the format awesome and something new/now, you will feel for these characters like you have never felt for fictional people before. This is a must read.

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Barely Have the Words (1)Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books
Published: September 4, 2018
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five-stars

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I don’t often give Christina Lauren books a 5 star rating. The highest to this point has been 4.5 stars. It isn’t because I don’t love them and enjoy my reading experience. It is mostly because there is that one thing in the story that ends up bugging me and taking away from the whole feel. Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating didn’t have that one thing. It was perfect, and I don’t know what else to say about it. I have been trying to gather my thoughts since I finished in mid2018 and I just can’t do it. What I can say is that I loved everything about it. I loved hos crazy Hazel was and how dumb Josh was. I loved their friendship and their not friendship. I loved there chemistry. Basically, I loved it and that is what it comes down to in the end.

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Barely Have the Words (1)Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: July 4, 2017
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five-stars

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Coming Up for Air is one of the rare books that I have read twice (once as a draft) that I still can’t find the words for. Part of the problem is it is Miranda Kenneally’s last book in the Hundred Oaks series and that is so hard to capture in a review. The other problem is that I loved Maggie and Levi’s relationship so much I can’t really describe the love I have for it. This book was probably Miranda’s funniest to date and her most sex positive and I still can’t tell you exactly why I loved it. Does just saying “read this book and this companion series and be done with it” work because that is all I’ve got. Also Kenneally writes a cute boy.

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Barely Have the Words (1)There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Published: September 26, 2017
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five-stars

Love hurts...

Makani Young thought she'd left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She's found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn't far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I read There’s Someone Inside Your House almost 3 years ago, the days after I met Stephanie Perkins for the first time. The whole this was surreal and I think that is why I have had such a hard time reviewing it. I’m not a horror/slasher book kind of person but TSIYH was just fun (and I’m aware that is odd to say). It brought me back to those great Kevin Williamson written horror movies with some of those Stephanie Perkins’ contemp moments. It is not the same experience as I had with Anna/Lola/Isla. It is a completely different book yet I still felt Steph when reading it. I can’t really say much else because a) I don’t want to give anything away from the book and b) I’m still kind of a loss for words from meeting Stephanie to reading the book right after. I just know I need something new from her and I need it now.

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These ‘reviews’ don’t do the books justice, but I have no other way to describe them. In the end I leave you with…READ THEM!

What books to you love and can’t review because you love them so much?

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Review: Furyborn – Claire Legrand

Review: Furyborn – Claire LegrandFuryborn by Claire Legrand
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: May 22, 2018
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five-stars

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire's heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When I heard about Furyborn I was interested but I wasn’t sure I wanted to start another fantasy trilogy. It appeared to have all the elements I want in a fantasy read, but I’m in the middle of so many series it gave me pause. Then people started talking about it and really amping it up. And then I got my hands on a copy and I was done for. Furyborn was everything I needed and more.

Furyborn is the story of Rielle and Eliana, two women on a path in two different worlds. For years Rielle has hidden who she was from her world, hidden the fact that she can control all 7 types of powers. When she uses her powers to save her best friend and future King, Rielle finds herself participating in trials to find out just who she is. Eliana, on the other hand, is doing everything and anything she can to protect her brother and find her mother and finds herself waged in a war that is centuries old. She is hiding an important part of herself from the world for fear of how it will be used and who it could hurt. Both women are on separate journeys, but connected in ways they couldn’t imagine. In the end one of these women will save the world and one will doom it.

It is really hard for me to put into words what I loved about this story. The world building was fantastic and I got a really clean picture of what I think Rielle and Eliana’s worlds were like. I also loved the narrative and how it was told from beginning to end. And can we talk about the supporting cast of characters? From Audric, Ludivine, and Corien to Remy,  Navi, and my FAVORITE, Simon. All of these characters really made both Rielle and Eliana who they are and gave them the drive they have. But honestly, I think the dual POVs of Rielle and Eliana really helped me fall as hard for this book as I did. Really getting to know their fears and desires and inner thoughts made me understand their motivations and how they got to the places they were in their lives.

From the moment I opened Furyborn I was hooked. The opening chapter gave so much yet so little away I needed to know more immediately. I felt like I got to know some of these characters in the first few pages and I was itching for more. I can’t say it enough, get your hands on this book and start this fantastic trilogy!

Have you read this amazing book yet?

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New to You (13): Michelle Reviews Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next up for New to You is Michelle from Pink Polka Dot Books. Michelle and I have always shared a love for a certain kind of book. It goes back to 2014 when we met in line for a signing of Tease by Amanda Maciel at BEA. When she signed up and wanted to read Breathe, Annie, Breathe, I knew it would be a good fit for her. Let’s see what Michelle had to say about it.

New to You (13): Michelle Reviews Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda KenneallyBreathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: April 7, 2015
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four-stars

From the bestselling author of Catching Jordan comes a contemporary YA you won't forget.

The finish line is only the beginning.…

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can't escape the guilt that if she hadn't broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she's at war with her body, her mind-and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms...and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

 

When I spied this book in Andi’s New To You options, I knew I had to choose it.  It’s been sitting on my shelf since one of my first BEAs and I’ve been meaning to read a book in the Hundred Oaks series since forevs.

I feel like this may have been the perfect book for me to start with because the subject-matter is a lot more serious and lot less romancey– although, the romance is DEFINITELY there.  I was really surprised how much I enjoyed reading about running, considering whenever I have to run in real life all I can think about is the intense pain all over my body, but I liked seeing how Annie progressed.

We follow Annie’s training schedule in the 6 months leading up to her first marathon.  Annie isn’t a runner, so having only 6 months to train to run a full marathon (26.something miles) is tough stuff.  I loved reading about her training and learning things about running that I never knew (like eating fish is good for your knees and weird things about Vaseline).  I actually loved being in her head, which I usually do not like.  When you run, you have A LOT of time to think and for the most part, I liked Annie’s thoughts.

Annie is running the marathon in honor of her boyfriend who passed away before he could run in one.  It gets complicated when her trainer’s brother enters the picture and gives her all kinds of crushworthy-feels.  I could see why she didn’t feel great about getting with a guy who is involved with something that connects to her boyfriend’s memory.  It was awkward as all hell.

The thing about Jeremiah (the brother) is that he’s an adrenaline junkie, constantly seeking the next high, putting himself in all kinds of unnecessary danger.  I felt like Annie was right to be wary– how could she go through another accidental death of a love interest???

What I liked about the Jeremiah situation: He sounded hot as hell.  Boys that don’t have fear are hot– they just are.  I liked their chemistry together, and I liked that hooking up wasn’t the biggest deal in the world to this author.  I thought Jeremiah might have been the most patient college kid on the planet and I respected that.

What I was MEH about the Jeremiah situation: I didn’t care for Jeremiah using Annie as a way to get his new high.  What’s going to happen when that newness wears off??  It will wear off Jeremiah, I promise you.  Also, why was every guy in love with this Annie chick??  She seemed like an everyday girl, I didn’t think she needed to be HOTTEST GIRL EVER for me to believe Jeremiah would be interested in her.

I will definitely be reading more Miranda Kenneally books!!  I really enjoyed the flow of this book. reading about marathon training, going to college, and awesome families.  Thanks to Andi for getting me to read this backlist book that I should’ve read years ago!!

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Thanks Michelle for signing up for New to You! I knew Annie would be a good fit for you!

My Breathe, Annie, Breathe review.

Have you read any books by Miranda Kenneally? If so which ones?

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Spotlight Tour: Excerpt of Furyborn – Claire Legrand {giveaway}

Spotlight Tour: Excerpt of Furyborn – Claire Legrand {giveaway}Furyborn (Empirium, #1) by Claire Legrand
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: May 22, 2018
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Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.

Praise for Furyborn

“A page-turner. Readers will find the complex and flawed characters immensely relatable. The two narratives are deftly interwoven, and plot twists will keep teens on the edge of their seats.” School Library Journal, popular pick

“A dark yet rousing adventure story that combines passion and danger at every turn.” Booklist

“High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies.”Kirkus

 Strikingly vivid prose… the nearly five hundred pages race by in stunning fashion. This is a must-have for fans of Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles (Finnikin of the Rock, or Cashore’s Graceling.”Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED Review

 “Beautiful, brutal, heart-stopping, and epic, Furyborn is a world to lose yourself in—just bring weapons. It’s dangerous there.”Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Strange the Dreamer and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone saga

 Legrand has created magic on every page. Flawed, smart, and fierce heroines kept me dazzled and breathless. Furyborn is explosive and stunning.”Mary E. Pearson, New York Times bestselling author of The Remnant Chronicles and The Jenna Fox Chronicles

 

Book Site Link: http://empiriumtrilogy.com/

Furyborn Video Trailers Link:
Blood Queen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTe7AZmSHh4
Sun Queen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-f2jvmmyok

Goodreads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34323570-furyborn?from_search=true

Buy Links:
Amazon || Barnes&Noble || BooksAMillion || Indigo || Indiebound

About Claire Legrand

Claire Legrand is the author of several novels for children and young adults, most notably The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, Some Kind of Happiness, and Winterspell. Claire lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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1

Rielle

“Lord Commander Dardenne came to me in the middle of the night, his daughter in his arms. They smelled of fire; their clothes were singed. He could hardly speak. I had never seen the man afraid before. He thrust Rielle into my arms and said, ‘Help us. Help her. Don’t let them take her from me.’”

—Testimony of Grand Magister Taliesin Belounnon, on Lady Rielle Dardenne’s involvement in the Boon Chase massacreApril 29, Year 998 of the Second Age

Two years earlier

Rielle Dardenne hurried into Tal’s office and dropped the sparrow’s message onto his desk.

“Princess Runa is dead,” she announced.

She wouldn’t describe her mood as excited exactly, but her own kingdom, Celdaria, and their northeastern neighbor, Borsvall, had lived in a state of tension for so many decades that it was hardly noteworthy when, say, a Celdarian merchant ship sank off Borsvall’s coast or patrols came to blows near the border.

But a murdered Borsvall princess? That was news. And Rielle wanted to dissect every piece of it.

Tal let out a sigh, set down his pen, and dragged his ink-smudged hands through his messy blond hair. The polished golden flame pinned to his lapel winked in the sunlight.

“Perhaps,” Tal suggested, turning a look on Rielle that was not quite disapproval and not quite amusement, “you should consider looking less thrilled about a princess’s murder?”

She slid into the chair across from him. “I’m not happy about it or anything. I’m simply intrigued.” Rielle pulled the slip of paper back across the desk and read over the inked words once more. “So you do think it was assassination? Audric thinks so.”

“Promise me you won’t do anything stupid today, Rielle.”

She smiled sweetly at him. “When have I ever done anything stupid?”

He quirked an eyebrow. “The city guard is on high alert. I want you here, safe in the temple, in case anything happens.” He took the message from her, scanning its contents. “How did you get this, anyway? No, wait. I know. Audric gave it to you.”

Rielle stiffened. “Audric keeps me informed. He’s a good friend. Where’s the harm in that?”

Tal didn’t answer, but he didn’t have to.

“If you have something to say to me,” she snapped, color climbing up her cheeks, “then just say it. Or else let’s begin our lesson.”

Tal watched her a moment longer, then turned to pick up four enormous books sitting on the shelf behind him.

“Here,” he said, ignoring the mutinous expression on her face. “I’ve marked some passages for you to read. Today will be devoted to quiet study. And I’ll test you later, so don’t even think about skimming.”

Rielle narrowed her eyes at the book on the top of the stack. “A Concise History of the Second Age, Volume I: The Aftermath of the Angelic Wars.” She made a face. “This hardly looks concise.”

“It’s all a matter of perspective,” he said, returning to the papers on his desk.

Rielle’s favorite place in Tal’s office was the window seat overlooking the main temple courtyard. It was piled high with scarlet cushions lined in gold piping, and when she sat there, dangling her legs out into the sun, she could almost forget that there was an enormous world beyond the temple and her city—a world she would never see.

She settled by the window, kicked off her boots, hiked up her heavy lace-trimmed skirts, and rested her bare feet on the sill. The spring sunlight washed her legs in warmth, and soon she was thinking of how Audric blossomed on bright, sun-filled days like this one. How his skin seemed to glow and crackle, begging to be touched.

Tal cleared his throat, breaking her focus.

Tal knew her far too well.

She cracked open A Concise History, took one look at the tiny, faded text, and imagined tossing the book out the window and into the temple courtyard, where citizens were filing in for morning prayers—to pray that the riders they had wagered upon in today’s race would win, no doubt. Every temple in the capital would be full of such eager souls, not just there in the Pyre—Tal’s temple, where citizens worshipped Saint Marzana the firebrand—but in the House of Light and the House of Night as well and the Baths and the Firmament, the Forge and the Holdfast. Whispered prayers in all seven temples, to all seven saints and their elements.

Wasted prayers, thought Rielle with a slight, sharp thrill. The other racers will look like children on ponies compared to me.

She flipped through a few pages, biting the inside of her lip until she felt calm enough to speak. “I’ve heard many in the Borsvall court are blaming Celdaria for Runa’s death. We wouldn’t do such a thing, would we?”

Tal’s pen scratched across his paper. “Certainly not.”

“But it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, does it? If King Hallvard’s councils convince him that we killed his daughter, he will declare war at last.”

Tal dropped his pen with a huff of annoyance. “I’m not going to get any work done today, am I?”

Rielle swallowed her grin. If only you knew how true that is, dearest Tal.

“I’m sorry if I have questions about the political climate of our country,” she said. “Does that fall under the category of things we’re not allowed to discuss, lest my poor vulnerable brain shatter from the stress?”

A smile twitched at the corner of Tal’s mouth. “Borsvall might declare war, yes.”

“You don’t seem concerned about this possibility.”

“I find it unlikely. We’ve been on the edge of war with Borsvall for decades, and yet it has never happened. And it will never happen, because the Borsvall people may be warmongers, but King Hallvard is neither healthy nor stupid. We would flatten his army. He can’t afford a war with anyone, much less with Celdaria.”

“Audric said…” Rielle hesitated. A twist of unease slipped down her throat. “Audric said he thinks Princess Runa’s death, and the slave rebellion in Kirvaya, means it’s time. That the Queens are coming.”

Silence fell over the room like a shroud.

“Audric has always been fascinated with the prophecy,” Tal said, his voice deceptively calm. “He’s been looking for signs of the Queens’ coming for years.”

“He sounds rather convinced this time.”

“A slave rebellion and a dead princess are hardly enough to—”

“But I heard Grand Magister Duval talking about how there have been storms across the ocean in Meridian,” she pressed on, searching his face. “Even as far as Ventera and Astavar. Strange storms, out of season.”

Tal blinked. Ah, thought Rielle. You didn’t know that, did you?

“Storms do occur out of season from time to time,” Tal said. “The empirium works in mysterious ways.”

Rielle curled her fingers in her skirts, taking comfort in the fact that soon she would be in her riding trousers and boots, her collar open to the breeze.

She would be on the starting line.

“The report I read,” she continued, “said that a dust storm in southern Meridian had shut down the entire port of Morsia for days.”

“Audric needs to stop showing you every report that comes across his desk.”

“Audric didn’t show me anything. I found this one myself.”

Tal raised an eyebrow. “You mean you snuck into his office when he wasn’t there and went through his papers.”

Rielle’s cheeks grew hot. “I was looking for a book I’d left behind.”

“Indeed. And what would Audric say if he knew you’d been in his office without his permission?”

“He wouldn’t care. I’m free to come and go as I please.”

Tal closed his eyes. “Lady Rielle, you can’t just visit the crown prince’s private rooms day and night as though it’s nothing. You’re not children anymore. And you are not his fiancée.”

Rielle lost her breath for an instant. “I’m well aware of that.”

Tal waved a hand and rose from his chair, effectively ending all talk of the prophecy and its Queens.

“The city is crowded today—and unpredictable,” he said, walking across the room to pour himself another cup of tea. “Word is spreading about Princess Runa’s death. In such a climate, the empirium can behave in similarly unpredictable ways. Perhaps we should begin a round of prayers to steady our minds. Amid the chaos of the world, the burning flame serves as an anchor, binding us in peace to the empirium and to God.”

Rielle glared at him. “Don’t use your magister voice, Tal. It makes you sound old.”

He sighed, took a sip of his tea. “I am old. And grumpy, thanks to you.”

“Thirty-two is hardly old, especially to already be Grand Magister of the Pyre.” She paused. She would need to proceed carefully. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you were appointed as the next Archon. Surely, with someone as talented as you beside me, I could safely watch the Chase from your box—”

“Don’t try to flatter me, Lady Rielle.” His eyes sparked at her. There was the Tal she liked—the ferocious firebrand, not the pious teacher. “It isn’t safe for you out there right now, not to mention dangerous for everyone else if something set you off and you lost control.”

Rielle slammed shut A Concise History and rose from the window seat. “Damn you, Tal.”

“Not in the temple, please,” Tal admonished over the rim of his cup.

“I’m not a child. Do you really think I don’t know better by now?” Her voice turned mocking. “‘Rielle, let’s say a prayer together to calm you.’ ‘Rielle, let’s sing a song about Saint Katell the Magnificent to take your mind off things.’ ‘No, Rielle, you can’t go to the masque. You might forget yourself. You might have fun, God forbid.’ If Father had his way, I’d stay locked up for the rest of my life with my nose buried in a book or on my knees in prayer, whipping myself every time I had a stray angry thought. Is that the kind of life you would like for me too?”

Tal watched her, unmoved. “If it meant you were safe and that others were safe as well? Yes, I would.”

“Kept under lock and key like some criminal.” A familiar, frustrated feeling rose within her; she pushed it back down with a vengeance. She would not lose control, not today of all days.

“Do you know,” she said, her voice falsely bright, “that when it storms, Father takes me down to the servants’ quarters and gives me dumbwort? It puts me to sleep, and he locks me up and leaves me there.”

After a pause, Tal answered, “Yes.”

“I used to fight him. He would hold me down and slap me, pinch my nose shut until I couldn’t breathe and had to open my mouth. Then he would shove the vial between my lips and make me drink, and I would spit it up, but he would keep forcing me to drink, whispering to me everything I’d ever done wrong, and right in the middle of yelling how much I hated him, I would fall asleep. And when I would wake up, the storm would be over.”

A longer pause. “Yes,” Tal answered softly. “I know.”

“He thinks storms are too provocative for me. They give me ideas, he says.”

Tal cleared his throat. “That was my fault.”

“I know.”

“But the medicine, that was his suggestion.”

She gave him a withering look. “And did you try to talk him out of it?”

He did not answer, and the patience on his face left her seething.

“I don’t fight him anymore,” she said. “I hear a crack of thunder and go below without him even asking me to. How pathetic I’ve become.”

“Rielle…” Tal sighed, shook his head. “Everything I could say to you, I’ve said before.”

She approached him, letting the loneliness she typically hid from him—from everyone—soften her face. Come, good Magister Belounnon. Pity your sweet Rielle. He broke first, looking away from her. Something like sorrow shifted across his face, and his jaw tightened.

Good.

“He’d let me sleep through life if he could,” she said.

“He loves you, Rielle. He worries for you.”

Heat snapped at Rielle’s fingertips, growing along with her anger. With a stubborn stab of fury, she let it come. She knew she shouldn’t, that an outburst would only make it more difficult to sneak away, but suddenly she could not bring herself to care.

He loves you, Rielle.

A father who loved his daughter would not make her his prisoner.

She seized one of the candles from Tal’s desk and watched with grim satisfaction as the wick burst into a spitting, unruly flame. As she stared at it, she imagined her fury as a flooding river, steadily spilling over its banks and feeding the flame in her hands.

The flame grew—the size of a pen, a dagger, a sword. Then every candle followed suit, a forest of fiery blades.

Tal rose from his desk and picked up the handsome polished shield from its stand in the corner of the room. Every elemental who had ever lived—every waterworker and windsinger, every shadowcaster and every firebrand like Tal—had to use a casting, a physical object uniquely forged by their own hands, to access their power. Their singular power, the one element they could control.

But not Rielle.

She needed no casting, and fire was not the only element that obeyed her.

All of them did.

Tal stood behind her, one hand holding his shield, the other hand resting gently on her own. As a child, back when she had still thought she loved Tal, such touches had thrilled her.

Now she seriously considered punching him.

“In the name of Saint Marzana the Brilliant,” Tal murmured, “we offer this prayer to the flames, that the empirium might hear our plea and grant us strength: Fleet-footed fire, blaze not with fury or abandon. Burn steady and true, burn clean and burn bright.”

Rielle bit down on harsh words. How she hated praying. Every familiar word felt like a new bar being added to the cage her father and Tal had crafted for her.

The room began to shake—the inkwell on Tal’s desk, the panes of glass in the open window, Tal’s half-finished cup of tea.

“Rielle?” Tal prompted, shifting his shield. In his body behind her, she felt a rising hot tension as he prepared to douse her fire with his own power. Despite her best efforts, the concern in his voice caused her a twinge of remorse. He meant well, she knew. He wanted, desperately, for her to be happy.

Unlike her father.

So Rielle bowed her head and swallowed her anger. After all, what she was about to do might turn Tal against her forever. She could allow him this small victory.

“Blaze not with fury or abandon,” she repeated, closing her eyes. She imagined setting aside every scrap of emotion, every sound, every thought, until her mind was a vast field of darkness—except for the tiny spot of light that was the flame in her hands.

Then she allowed the darkness to seep across the flame as well and was left alone in the cool, still void of her mind.

The room calmed.

Tal’s hand fell away.

Rielle listened as he returned his shield to its stand. The prayer had scraped her clean, and in the wake of her anger she felt…nothing. A hollow heart and an empty head.

When she opened her eyes, they were dry and tired. She wondered bitterly what it would be like to live without a constant refrain of prayers in her thoughts, warning her against her own feelings.

The temple bells chimed eleven times; Rielle’s pulse jumped. Any moment now, she would hear Ludivine’s signal.

She turned toward the window. No more prayers, no more reading. Every muscle in her body surged with energy. She wanted to ride.

“I’d rather be dead than live as my father’s prisoner,” she said at last, unable to resist that last petulant stab.

“Dead like your mother?”

Rielle froze. When she faced Tal, he did not look away. She had not expected that cruelty. From her father, yes, but never from Tal.

The memory of long-ago flames blazed across her vision.

“Did Father instruct you to bring that up if I got out of hand?” she asked, keeping her voice flat and cool. “What with the Chase and all.”

“Yes,” Tal answered, unflinching.

“Well, I’m happy to tell you I’ve only killed the one time. You needn’t worry yourself.”

After a moment, Tal turned to straighten the books on his desk. “This is as much for your safety as it is for everyone else’s. If the king discovered we’d been hiding the truth of your power all these years…You know what could happen. Especially to your father. And yet he does it because he loves you more than you’ll ever understand.”

Rielle laughed sharply. “That isn’t reason enough to treat me like this. I’ll never forgive him for it. Someday, I’ll stop forgiving you too.”

“I know,” Tal said, and at the sadness in his voice, Rielle nearly took pity on him.

Nearly.

But then a great crash sounded from downstairs, and an unmistakable cry of alarm.

Ludivine.

Tal gave Rielle that familiar look he so often had—when she had, at seven, overflowed their pool at the Baths; when he had found her, at fifteen, the first time she snuck out to Odo’s tavern. That look of What did I do to deserve such trials?

Rielle gazed innocently back at him.

“Stay here,” he ordered. “I mean it, Rielle. I appreciate your frustration—truly, I do—but this is about more than the injustice of you feeling bored.”

Rielle returned to the window seat, hoping her expression appeared suitably abashed.

“I love you, Tal,” she said, and the truth of that was enough to make her hate herself a little.

“I know,” he replied. Then he threw on his magisterial robe and swept out the door.

“Magister, it’s Lady Ludivine,” came a panicked voice from the hallway—one of Tal’s young acolytes. “She’d only just arrived in the chapel, my lord, when she turned pale and collapsed. I don’t know what happened!”

“Summon my healer,” Tal instructed, “and send a message to the queen. She’ll be in her box at the starting line. Tell her that her niece has taken ill and will not be joining her there.”

Once they had gone, Rielle smiled and yanked on her boots.

Stay here?

Not a chance.

She hurried through the sitting room outside Tal’s office and into the temple’s red-veined marble hallways, where embroidered flourishes of shimmering flames lined the plush carpets. The temple entryway, its parquet floor polished to a sheen of gold, was a flurry of activity as worshippers, acolytes, and servants hurried across to the peaked chapel doors.

“It’s Lady Ludivine,” a young acolyte whispered to her companion as Rielle passed. “Apparently she’s taken ill.”

Rielle grinned, imagining everyone fussing over poor Ludivine, tragically lovely and faint on the temple floor. Ludivine would enjoy the attention—and the reminder that she had the entire capital held like a puppet on its master’s strings.

Even so, Rielle would owe her a tremendous favor after this.

Whatever it was, it would be more than worth it.

Ludivine’s horse stood next to her own just outside the temple, held by a young stable hand who seemed on the verge of panic. He recognized Rielle and sagged with relief.

“Pardon me, Lady Rielle, but is Lady Ludivine all right?” he asked.

“Haven’t the faintest,” Rielle replied, swinging up into the saddle. Then she snapped the reins, and her mare bolted down the main road that led from the Pyre into the heart of the city, hooves clattering against the cobblestones. A tumbled array of apartments and temple buildings rose around them—gray stone walls engraved with scenes of the capital city’s creation, rounded roofs of burnished copper, slender columns wrapped in flowering ivy, white fountains crowned with likenesses of the seven saints in prayer. So many visitors had come from all over the world to Âme de la Terre for the Chase that the cool spring air now pressed thick and close. The city smelled of sweat and spices, hot horse and hot coin.

As Rielle tore down the road, the crowd parted in alarm on either side of her, shouting angry curses until they realized who she was and fell silent. She guided her mare through the twisting streets and made for the main city gates, her body pulled tight with nerves.

But she would not give in to her power today.

She would compete in the Boon Chase, as any citizen was free to do, and prove to her father that she could control herself, even when her life was in danger and the eyes of the entire city were upon her.

She would prove to him, and to Tal, that she deserved to live a normal life.

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