3.5 star, YA

Review: Flamefall by Rosaria Munda

Series: The Aurelian Cycle #3

Revolutionary flames ignite around Annie, Lee, and a brand new POV character in the second book of the Fireborne trilogy.

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.

With war on the horizon from an enemy previously thought vanquished, this society Annie and Lee live in continue to make us question what is the right decision to make in hard circumstances in Flamefall. For a story about dragons, this series and book stands out for its exploration of government and politics with the added bonus of dragons thrown into the mix.

Annie is now head of the fleet of dragons, a feat that once would not have been possible as she was born into a serf family. With such great responsibilities, she is already put to the test with the looming threat from escaped dragonlords who were now refocusing their attention on the kingdom that once was theirs.

I continue to love Annie so much because she was put through impossible situations in this book. With food shortages and potential enemy attacks, she has to balance resources among all the people. While it never is fair to discriminate against one group over another, the question is always posed: who needs to have more food in order to maintain the runnings of society? That’s something that I had to ask myself time and time again as I agreed and disagreed with the actions of these characters. Maybe I was right some of the time, but maybe sometimes I sided with the wrong. It’s hard to say. But at the end of the day, what would I do if I were in her position?

As for her supposed partner in crime, things aren’t going well with Lee in this one. A Dragonborn son who now wanted to prove that he agrees with the ideals that no one is better than another just because of their birth or station. I understand the why that drives him, but I can’t understand how much he hurts Annie here. There’s hardly any romance in this sequel, if you can call their interactions even semi-friendly half the time, because they’re on opposing sides due to his choices. There was a lot of miscommunication here and I hope things get better for them. Lee is definitely not one of my favourite people in this sequel.

Surprisingly, Annie’s real ally comes in the form of Power, a bully from book 1 who had also ranked high in the dragon fleet. He is by no means the best kind of guy out there, but he did right by Annie. When she had absolutely no one because the others sided with Lee, he stood by her and ensured she ate and had backup in missions. I don’t think he deserved how Annie treated him at times, only seeing the bully and not the friend he was trying to be now. I will say this once, but, Power deserved better in this book. I don’t care if some people kind of ship him with Annie. At this rate, he’s becoming a better option than Lee. After all, actions speak louder than words.

I did really enjoy the addition of a new protagonist and voices that alternated with his own POV along with Lee and Annie. Griff is part of the native group that lives on the island the escaped dragonlords had taken over when they left the mainland. He and his Dragonborn love interest, Delo, kept it entertaining as we get a glimpse at what is happening over in New Pythos on the opposing side of the war. Griff’s part of the story also brings some sort of levity that helps cut the tension that is absolutely everywhere in Lee and Annie’s POVs.

While this does not have as much action as there could be, it really sets up the stage for book 3. A rather fun tidbit was thrown out at the very end I had not seen coming so I am super curious to see what comes next. But please, Rosaria, could we patch things up with Lee and Annie just a tad bit? Their tension is becoming almost unpalatable at this rate. Otherwise, this book provides thought-provoking questions and a refreshing look at how societies are ruled in YA.

Overall Recommendation:

Flamefall continues to explore a society governed by different ideologies and morals with our girl Annie at the heart of some impossible situations. As war with New Pythos looms in the near horizon, the dragon fleet needs to prepare for battle. However, internal strife with rebels upholding a different view for their society embattles for power, with Lee being a key figure opposing the very government he and Annie are supposed to uphold. There is a lot of tension, angst and miscommunication in this sequel with minimal romance, so hold your frustrations as this propels us toward the next book. A new POV provided by newcomer Griff on New Pythos rounds out this book from the complete angst-fest it otherwise would be, and a shocking twist at the end has me waiting impatiently for the next one!


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