Cover reveal: Fireborne is here to heat up your fall


In Fireborne, there be dragons. Not only is Culturess pleased to reveal the cover, but we also have an excerpt of this YA fantasy with big promise.

For all that books like Crown of Feathers introduce other mythological creatures as rideable, there’s something to be said for how long dragons have managed to capture the imagination of fantasy fans everywhere. From Game of Thrones to Heartstone to yes, Dungeons & Dragons, the scaly firebreathers are everywhere. That means that debut author Rosaria Munda is wading into a crowded space with Fireborne.

So how will she differentiate herself?

Well, first we’ll give you a taste of the book’s summary. Below, you’ll find the cover, a bit of our Culturess analysis, and then an excerpt from the book ahead of time.

"Seraphina meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance . . . and dragons.The brutal revolution that overthrew the Dragonlords may have orphaned Annie and Lee, but it’s brought new hope to their city. Now anyone–including the lowborn–can have wealth, an education, and even test into the governing class of dragonriders.Aristocratic by birth and with his identity concealed, Lee’s confidence and air of power have made him a rising star in the very regime that slaughtered his family. Annie, a former serf, is as bold a rider as they come–in the air. On the ground, she struggles with self-doubt.Now, after seven years of friendship, Annie and Lee are rivals for the top position in the city’s fleet. All the riders have been preparing to lead their people into the future, yet no one is ready when survivors from the Dragonlord families resurface with dragons of their own, bent on reclaiming the city.With war looming and their relationship growing, Annie and Lee will both have to confront wavering loyalties. Lee will be forced to choose between killing the only family he has left, or betraying everything he’s come to believe in, while Annie will have to decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs."

The first thing that sticks out to this reader and reviewer is that this book sounds like it’s extremely class-conscious in a way that’s rather reminiscent of Heartstone. Check out how our main characters, Annie and Lee, come from different backgrounds, with that clearly playing a part in how they act post-revolution.

Notably, there are tiny hints of a possible romantic relationship between the two of them, but we don’t know if Lee immediately reciprocates Annie’s feelings in the same way. It’s explicit that she “loves” him in the final sentence, but the first sentence of that final paragraph suggests that things change in the book.

It’s also interesting that although the Dragonlords no longer reign, being able to ride a dragon immediately catapults you into a higher class. Considering current scandals around college admissions, meritocracies, and fairness, it sounds like this book could end up being more timely than ever.

Okay, we promised you a cover. Here it is in its full glory:

Cover to Fireborne. Image via G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

For all that this is a fantasy novel, the styling of the cover really reminds us of something a little more in the realm of science fiction, from the fonts chosen to even the simple decor. We sincerely hope that the print edition has some glitter in the dragon’s wings.

Just from this cover as well, these dragons seem to bear a closer resemblance to those featured in Game of Thrones rather than those in the Harry Potter series. We don’t expect that to play a huge role in the book itself, but it’s a nice touch of worldbuilding just from a cover.

This is also the first book in what’s been dubbed The Aurelian Cycle, which pointedly doesn’t limit Munda to a specific number of books.

So, here’s an excerpt for everyone to pore over. It’s from the first chapter, and told from Lee’s perspective:

"I lean forward and rest a gloved hand on Pallor’s silver-scaled neck as his wings, translucent in the morning light, tighten in a dive. Pallor is an aurelian, a breed known for being small, maneuverable, careful, and the aurelian formation for today’s ceremony is the only one complex enough to require coleaders. I can rehearse alone but, really, to do the thing properly, I need—Annie. There she is.[…]“Lee’s been flying like an idiot out here without you,” Cor says.Pallor and I fire ash downward. Cor dodges the stream with a bark of laughter.Annie’s lips curve at Cor’s remark, but instead of answering, she rolls seamlessly into formation opposite me, her dragon, Aela, mirroring Pallor’s movements. Her red-brown braidhangs low on her back, her freckled face is set in its concentration. I’ve thought of Annie as beautiful—strikingly beautiful—for almost as long as I can remember, but I’ve never told her.“Play it from the top?” I suggest.There are calls of assent from the other three.We right ourselves only when the bell rings the hour. The arena below, the Palace to one side and the pillar supporting Pytho’s Keep on the other, the jagged rooftops, the plainsstretching out to the sea—for a moment I feel a protectiveness, almost a possessiveness, of the city and island spread below. The vows that we took when we became Guardians echo in my mind: All that I am, henceforth, belongs to Callipolis. By the wings of my dragon I will keep her . . .Today, eight of the thirty-two Guardians will compete in the quarterfinal tournament for Firstrider, commander of the aerial fleet. I’m one of those eight, along with Annie, Cor, andCrissa. Qualifying rounds have been going on among the dragonriders for weeks.It will be the first time since the Revolution that Callipolis names a Firstrider, one of the only titles it’s kept from the old regime. The dragons of the revolutionary fleet are finally old enough, and their riders well-enough trained, to vie for a position that’s been vacant since the Revolution. For the other Guardians, the Firstrider Tournaments are a chance to prove themselves; for me, it will be that and something more.Because Firstrider is a title I’ve wanted since before the Revolution. It would be all the recognition, power, and respect that my family lost over the course of a single bloody monthwhen I was eight years old, regained."

That tells us a lot. First, Lee definitely has feelings for Annie as well, and here’s hoping that we get her perspective on things. It seems like we will, based on the description of the book.

Moreover, this excerpt shows us that there will be multiple types of dragons, and Lee has already established for us why the series is named The Aurelian Cycle: it’s the type of dragon that both he and Annie ride. Presumably, there will be other dragons — perhaps those ridden by the descendants of the Dragonlords — for the aurelians to contend with.

We’ll hopefully find the answers to all of our many questions when the book goes on sale Oct. 15. You can pre-order it through Penguin Random House or Amazon.

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