Fireborne: Rosaria Munda's Influences: Background information when reading Fireborne

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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
    Dec 2020, 464 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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Fireborne: Rosaria Munda's Influences

This article relates to Fireborne

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Rosaria Munda author photo Fireborne, the first book in The Aurelian Cycle trilogy, features a society that is restructuring after a political revolution, in which a select few citizens become dragon-riding warriors that protect the nation. This is the debut novel for author Rosaria Munda, who first conceived of the idea while listening to an audiobook about the Blitz, the nighttime bombing raids on London during World War II. She imagined a story with a focus on planes and aerial battles, but at that point, Munda describes the idea as "Ender's Game but with pilots in North Korea." Although that plot evolved over the years, the aerial battles remained, morphing from dogfights between pilots to epic battles waged from the backs of dragons. The idea for the two main characters also persisted; in fact, Munda says that Fireborne's Annie and Lee have been in her mind since she was in high school. Annie was created to go against the "Chosen One" trope that is prevalent in YA. She's an orphaned serf who has flourished under the new government, but who is still underestimated at every turn. Lee, on the other hand, is an orphaned aristocrat who has every right to seek revenge, but who instead sees the wrongs his family committed and chooses a different path.

Both Annie and Lee are products of the revolution that ripped apart their society, a revolution that was inspired by the author's time in Paris. While exploring the city, the remnant markers of the French Revolution inspired her to think about what comes after the fighting is done and everything changes.

But what Munda says really pulled the story together was her study of political theory and Plato's Republic. In his writing, Plato discusses the ideal government and eventually proposes a society ordered by meritocracy rather than birthright. This society would be composed of three social classes based on scholarship and specialization. Accordingly, Fireborne features a class system organized around intelligence and aptitude, as measured by a government-issued test. While those who test poorly are placed in the Iron class as unskilled laborers, the best and brightest become Guardians. Combining this world-building with dragons puts an even more unique twist on the story; before the revolution, only the ruling class were allowed to ride dragons, but Atreus, the leader of the revolution and the new regime, chose to grant everyone the opportunity, provided they tested well. It's this opportunity that allows Annie to become one of the nation's best dragonriders, something that could've never happened under the old rulers. It's also what provides Lee, the son of a dragonlord, a way to claim the birthright that was stolen from him with the murder of his family at the height of the revolution.

Munda was further inspired by Plato in establishing Callipolis, the setting of Fireborne. The city is named and based on Plato's Kallipolis, the utopian city-state ruled by a philosopher king and viewed by Plato as the epitome of a governmental seat. He imagined Kallipolis as a place that promoted truth and rationality, where the leaders were not born, but made based on their pursuit of knowledge; the king would have to train in a 50-year-long scholastic program before he would be permitted to lead. Although Atreus didn't study for decades before becoming the First Protector, he prides himself on his knowledge of the history and culture of the people he rules, and his partiality for those of the philosophical Gold class comes into play as the first overtures of war threaten the city and its resources. Munda has created a society and a ruler that are thoroughly influenced by the Republic, but she also shows the flaws in such a form of government, flaws that will most certainly be exploited as Annie and Lee's story continues.

Rosaria Munda, courtesy of Nelson Literary Agency

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Article by Jordan Lynch

This "beyond the book article" relates to Fireborne. It originally ran in October 2019 and has been updated for the December 2020 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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