Excerpt from Fireborne by Rosaria Munda, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Fireborne

The Aurelian Cycle Book 1

by Rosaria Munda

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda X
Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2019, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2020, 464 pages

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Prologue

Later, he would be known as the First Protector, and under his vision the city would transform. Serfs would be freed, schools would be built, and dragons would, for the first time, be ridden by commoners.

Before that, he was the leader of the bloodiest revolution his people had ever seen.

He never doubted that he would create a just city. Nor did he doubt that the families of the old regime deserved to die. But he did, sometimes, regret the way it happened, the day the palace was finally overrun.

He remembered in particular one of the ruling families, their tormentors still at work when he found them. The dragonlord had been kept alive, to watch; his youngest son was the only child left. A boy of about seven or eight, his expression blank beneath a mask of blood. The remains of their family lay around them.

"Stop this foolishness at once," the First Protector said, when he and his guard found them.

The revolutionaries let go of the boy, whom they had been hurting, and began to protest: This man is Leon Stormscourge, don't you know what he's done—but they fell silent when the dragonlord spoke from his knees on the bloodstained carpet.

"My son," he said, in the language he and the First Protector shared. "Please, Atreus."

The First Protector took a half glance at the child. He said, "Leo will be looked after."

He gave one of his guard a murmured order. The soldier started, hesitated, and then lifted the dragonlord's son in his arms. When the boy had been carried, limp and silent, from the room, the leader of the Revolution knelt before the dragonlord.

"Those—animals—" the dragonlord rasped.

The First Protector did not disagree. Instead, he put a hand to the knife on his belt. When he met the dragonlord's gaze, it was in an unspoken question. The dragonlord closed his eyes and nodded.

Then, to the First Protector's surprise, he spoke.

"Your vision," he said. "Do you think it will ever be worth this, Atreus?"

The First Protector drew his knife.

"Yes," he said.

The dragonlord's question returned to him often in the years that followed. Even as many of the other details of the Revolution began to fade from his memory, he remembered Leon Stormscourge.

Leon's son, on the other hand, was a detail he forgot.



Chapter 1
Messages from the Ministry
Nine Years Later

Lee

Morning is our favorite time to fly. Today, even with the tournament looming and the empty arena below us a reminder that soon we'll be watched, for the first time, by thousands, it's still possible to savor the city sprawled beneath a dragon's wings. When we pull tight on a turn, I glimpse one of Pallor's black eyes, depthless, turned on me. The line between us, of shared emotions and thoughts that are usually latent in the saddle, goes taut. Yes. Today it begins. Today we'll rise.

But in order to do that, I'll need a clear head. I gently extricate myself from Pallor's simmering anticipation and refocus on the arena. Two other dragonriders fly with us, each riding one of the other two breeds: Crissa and her skyfish are in the air above us, while Cor and his stormscourge glide below, bellowing ash over the arena stands. We're on our last rehearsal, this time with just the squadron leaders.

I lift my voice over the wind. "You're taking her too low, Cor."

Cor grunts, frustrated, and urges his stormscourge higher. We've been over the choreography of the tournament's opening ceremony over and over with ministry officials, and every time the question of how to demonstrate stormscourge might becomes tricky. Before the Revolution, the dragon breed of Stormscourge House—of my family—were known for terrorizing the countryside; but in even older days, they were our island's greatest defense against aerial invasion.

Excerpted from Fireborne by Rosaria Munda. Copyright © 2019 by Rosaria Munda. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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