Putnam. (Aurelian Cycle: Bk. 2). Mar. 2021. 496p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780525518242.
Gr 7 Up–Nearly 10 years ago, First Protector Atreus led the people of Callipolis in a bloody revolution, overthrowing and slaughtering the aristocratic rulers and their families. Although the rebellion’s intent was to build a new society based on merit rather than noble birth, most citizens still struggle under the new system. Now, as the city’s food supplies dwindle and citizens rally for equal rations and free speech, dragonrider Guardians Lee and Annie must balance keeping the peace with serving the people. Meanwhile, on New Pythos, the few surviving dragonborn aristocrats, known as the Triarchy, are forming a dragon army augmented by “humble riders”—poor conscripts trained to ride muzzled dragons into battle. Griff is one such rider, squire to the sadistic Firstrider Ixion. When Ixion attempts to kill Griff’s family, Griff’s tenuous loyalties snap and he plans to betray his oppressors. Much like its predecessor, this second book in the “Aurelian Cycle” trilogy finds its strength in complex, compelling characters and thought-provoking socio-political intrigue. By interweaving the perspectives of Annie, Lee, and Griff, the author gives readers insight into each character’s ethical struggle while keeping the plot moving forward. Amid the politics there are plenty of dragon battles, clandestine missions, and secret meetings to keep readers flying through the pages, ending with a nail-biting cliffhanger. Many readers will also appreciate the authenticity of Griff’s romance with his handsome friend Delo. Characters have various skin tones.
VERDICT Readers who enjoyed Fireborne are sure to tear through this sequel. Highly recommended for middle and high school readers.

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