The Boy with Fire
The Ravence Trilogy: Book One
by Aparna Verma
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 31 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 9 Aug 2021
New Degree Press, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles
Dune meets The Poppy War in Aparna Verma’s The Boy with Fire, a glorious yet brutal tour-de-force debut that grapples with the power and manipulation of myth in an Indian-inspired epic fantasy.
Yassen Knight was the Arohassin’s most notorious assassin until a horrible accident. Now, he’s on the run from both the authorities and his former employer. But when Yassen seeks refuge with an old friend, he’s offered an irresistible deal: defend the heir of Ravence from the Arohassin, and earn his freedom.
Elena Ravence prepares to ascend the throne. Trained since birth in statecraft, warfare, and the desert ways, Elena knows she is ready. She only lacks one thing: the ability to hold Fire. With the coronation only weeks away, she must learn quickly or lose her kingdom.
Leo Ravence is not yet ready to give up the crown. There’s still too much work to be done, too many battles to be won. But when an ancient prophecy threatens to undo his lifetime of work, Leo wages war on the heavens themselves to protect his legacy.
The first of The Ravence Trilogy, The Boy with Fire is the tale of a world teetering on the edge of war and prophecy, of fate and betrayal, of man’s irrevocable greed for power — and the sacrifices that must come with it.
A Note From the Publisher
KINDLE (ISBN: 9781636763590)
“The Boy with Fire is a true testament to the power concealed within words. Aparna has artfully woven a tale of myth, magic, and intrigue that will keep you flipping pages into the late hours of the night.”
— Emily VanderBent, author of Crimson Time
"The Boy with Fire is an astonishing and inspiring fantasy journey among assassins, monarchs, and prophets – all vying to topple or save their world from the edge of chaos. Aparna Verma’s interlocking narratives weave a rich, savvy tapestry of courage, deceit, and hope."
— Tom Kealey, author of Thieves I've Known
“In a world that is entirely foreign yet somehow familiar, Aparna Verma weaves an intricate story that looks unflinchingly at the costs of war, power, and comfort in a broken world. The moral sacrifices they demand from Yassen, Elena, Samson, and Leo in this story hold up a mirror to the morality of our world in a way that is convicting and terrifyingly necessary.”
— Rachel Mumaw, author of Jericho: Echoes of Jericho (Book One)
“Aparna Verma does a fantastic job weaving readers into the mystical world of Sayon with well-rounded characters you’ll want to root for! The Boy with Fire is truly a breath of fresh air in the way it comments on war from an interesting new perspective.”
— Ashlea Hearn, author of Take It: Genesis Mortalis.
Average rating from 221 members
This book will make your heart bleed and burn, and want you to have it done all over again. A must-read. Talk about an EPIC fantasy debut. The world of Sayon is so captivating and beautiful. I want to run in the dunes of Ravence and take the holotrains through the brass cities of Jantar. Also, the cloud cookies! I want one! The book is written in 3 distinct, character POVs: Yassen Knight, Elena Ravence, and Leo Ravence. Yassen breaks your heart, Elena inspires you to burn your enemies, and Leo just scares you. I have to say that my favorite is (surprisingly) Leo. He's such a dynamic character. You know that what he's doing is WRONG (like hello!!), but you understand WHY he goes batshit crazy. The author said on her Twitter that her book deals with themes of historical trauma and Indian mythology and damn, it REALLY does. The book can be dark and violent at times, but so is history. Every character is drowning in a sea of grief and unbridled rage. Sometimes, I just want to give them a hug, but I'm afraid I'll get burned. All in all, I LOVED this book. I can't wait for the rest of the trilogy. I'm going to call it now - Aparna Verma will be one of the best fantasy writers of our generation. Disclaimer: As a a beta reader, I've read an early copy of the book. I was not asked to write a review. This is my honest opinion.
4.5/5 ⭐ It's safe to say that The Boy with Fire's painstakingly fine-spun (and stunningly painted) backdrop and the subtleties of its ambiguously amoral protagonists blew me away, almost as profoundly as its startling twists stopped me in my tracks several times. Ravence's immensely detailed and dedicated imagery of unforgiving deserts and frenzied infernos fit flawlessly with the fervor and fury of the inhabitants of this full-bloodedly futuristic and flame-fanatic sovereignty immersed deep amid the dunes. The trenchant play-by-play on religion-based rule, the indictment of the frightening manipulative scope of mankind, and the inclusion of different types of social structures and approaches to faith - paired with the innate political tensions that plague Ravence and its foes - are themselves an inventive and well-plotted feat of pseudo-satirical imitation, a scathing portrayal of the realities that inspired this fictional world. The Boy with Fire's intoxicatingly passionate trio of focal perspectives manages to forge a troupe of intensely distinct protagonists and side-characters that have you doubting anyone's integrity or surety of motive. I feel attached to Elena and Yasseen's devoted plight and their impossible predicaments already (those slowed-down, super-soft moments between them were really precious) and I'm truly stoked to see where this trilogy goes - ideally the sequel will wind up with our poor former assassin and incited princess in faintly less dire straits 🔥 Thank you to NetGalley and New Degree Press for kindly passing on this ARC! 💫
I’m mindblown 😳 The plot twists , the character development , the mystery and suspense. Everything about this debut novel was amazing. The scenery and world building was beautiful, and the essence of Indian mythology was seen easily. This book went beyond my expectations and I loved the mix of a plot driven and character driven novel. There was no room for confusion but the details were subtle and crafted/woven into the story expertly. I adore this book and every character - there was no character that you could hate because they were all complex and unique. Their histories linked in some way or another. Their pain and feelings so perfectly depicted. How will I wait for the next book? 😭
To be forgiven, one must be burned. When I started this book, I thought, “hey, not so bad.” Two days later, I’m lying in my bed, figuring out what to do next because this book broke me. The Boy with Fire exceeded my expectations. The world-building was intricate that despite my mixing up of the terms used all throughout the book, I had no trouble figuring out how Verma’s world works. How she describes her places from the dunes to the Kingdom of Ravence was colorful and rich in detail. Verma did focus a little more on her world building then, which was not really a problem to me. Although three hundred pages in, that came with the thought of where was is the part that warns this is not for the faint of the heart. Just a few pages after, Verna delivers and here I am. One thing that appalled me from the start was how the story was a mix of mythology and technology (hey, that rhymes). Badass people who wield fire and pulse guns and hoverpads? It boggles my mind all throughout at how Verma made these two work together at this devastatingly beautiful tale. Now, my favorite, morally grey characters! Every character has an ambition of their own, that was made clear all throughout. The characters in play are a stark reminder that the ends do not justify the means. It took me two days to attach to these characters and Verma did a magnificent job of breaking my heart. All in all, the book had ups that made me smile and more downs that kept me going all up until the epilogue. Let me add here that I am not so well-versed with Indian mythology, but this book inspired me to study more about Indian folklore. I am looking forward to its release on August 31, because this book will make you want to go to therapy.
This book had so many things I loved and didn’t know I needed. Yassen, Elena and Leo are amazing and unique characters. This story drips with delicate and delicious worldbuilding, overall a shimmering debut. ARC kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I adored this book. The characters, the writing, the romance and most of all the amazing indian representation. I rarely get to read about indian main characters and connect to the plot the way I did. I quite literally cannot wait for the next book in this trilogy to be released.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! I loved this book so much. The characters, the plot, the world building, the romance. It totally won me over <3
This was an epic I could not put down. I felt that if you liked THE POPPY WAR you will love this cultural fantasy that is brimming with history. Loved it. Thank you for the e-arc!
What a debut! The worldbuilding is unlike anything I've ever read before and very well done. I'm always looking for more fiction with morally skewed characters and there's some great ones in here. The multi POV was fantastic - It took me a minute to warm to Elena but once I did...wow she's exactly the type of character I enjoy. Leo was super interesting and I very much enjoyed Yassen and his arc as well. A really well written debut with interesting characterisation and genuinely shocking plot twists. Definite recommend!
What a fantastic debut. This is an indie/small pub that reads like a big-budget new adult. It's warm and inviting enough for YA fans, and mature enough for adult fantasy fans- and really has a little something for everyone. Elena is a princess soon to ascend to the throne. She is unable to wield fire- a skill that defines her family's rule. Yassen is an ex-assassin looking for a break. He finds that in his childhood friend and partner in crime Samson, in a plot that will lead both of them to court. Meanwhile, war and conflict looms over all of them. As the story progresses, you get a little bit of everything- what starts off as intrigue and court politics evolves into a super exciting and fast-paced adventure fantasy without ever losing that mystery touch. Aparna Verma pulled from a lot of Indian/SEA lore, but her world feels completely unique- a blend of fantasy and sci-fi that exists outside of culture and time. It's easy to get lost in, and its uniqueness begs you to keep digging through it to learn more. The characters all had big personalities- and I consider it an especially impressive feat when you care for the non-POV characters as much as the POVs, no existing character is spared devoted development - both internally and externally. Characters will make questionable choices, and what really hit me was how measured the response of the people around them would be. It was great seeing people react to things like actual humans. The character relationships are drool-worthy- there are so many good friendships and potential romances- all with their own merits. Intensity, codependency, longing, curiosity, and kindred spirits. It's all here. One of the high points of my reading adventure, and it came from such a unique place. The Boy With Fire is proof positive that small pub authors should not be ignored or dismissed. Verma shows a clear understanding of writing what readers want in 2021 while driving a story that is all her own.
What is it about: The book follows Ravani king, his daughter who is heir to the throne and ex assassin. The Boy With Fire is the tale of a world teetering on the edge of war and prophecy, of fate and betrayal, of man’s irrevocable greed for power — and the sacrifices that must come with it. This book has all my favorite elements and yet it's so different from others. Author was not joking when she said it has dune vibes, enemies to lovers trope, corruption and redemption arcs, Indian mythology. I really love how sci-fi and fantasy elements were blended together and created such unique world that is very easy to imagine. As for characters we have 5: Elena Yassen, Leo, Samson and Ferma. Every character is distinct and well developed and I enjoyed reading about each of them. I really recommend this book!
I really enjoyed reading this, and i was very interested in the story. Loved a lot of the characters and their personalities. One of the first stories i have read that were written as good as this. I love the way magic is used in the book. Highly recommend to anybody looking to read this and i'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Aparna Verma's "The Boy With Fire" is advertised to be a mix between R.F Kuang's "The Poppy War" and Frank Herbert's "DUNE". And while elements of both books can be seen in the novel, it still manages to be something completely unique on its own. The Boy With Fire immerses you in a captivating fantasy world using its descriptive worldbuilding and easy to follow terms. With every word that is read, one can feel as if they are stepping into the world itself and watching the story unfold before their eyes. It paints a picture of destruction, loss, and power that much like fire, you can never seem to look away from. The book was paced in such a way that felt so organic; it was neither rushed nor too slow for my liking. It rode the course of the plot that takes you along for the ride of your life. You follow the perspectives of Leo, Elena, and Yassen throughout the book and each character's voice is so distinct and fleshed out that you have no trouble distinguishing them from each other ; they each have their flaws, motivations, and inspirations that drive them to make the decisions that they do. But that isn't to say that these characters are predictable and flat. Even as the story progresses and their characters slowly develop, nothing ever seems out of place or out of character. Each decision and scrap of dialogue has its meaning behind it. And while I can say that some of the character relationships just didn't click for me, I have no trouble following their stories at all. This book has morally gray protagonists, corruption and redemption arcs, and Indian mythology packed into one hell of an alluring writing style that will leave you wanting to know more. You better mark your calendars for August 31st because this book is certainly worth the hype!
Everything points north, even death." 🔥Book Review🔥 Boy with Fire by @spirited_gal I was provided an e-arc for an honest review. 1. Synopsis: Yassen Knight, an assassin on the run after an accident is given a deal for his freedom : Protect the heir of Ravence from Arohassin, a guild of assassin who were also Yassen's previous employers. Elena Ravence, heir to kingdom of Ravence, is set to be a competent queen, ready to bring out the golden ages of her country, alas she cannot hold fire. She can't even sit in the eternal fire, which is necessary to do for thee coronation ceremony. Either she learns or she loses the crown. Leo Ravence, King of Ravence, is still skeptical of giving his throne away but when a horrifying fate disrupts his legacy, Leo is ready to set fire to heaven if it brings protection to his future. 2. World-Building: Aparna Verma has not only created a diverse world based on Indian Mythology, she has intricately woven a detailed background, themes of colonialism, genocide and racism in a thoughtful and beautiful manner into the book. She has truly created a living breathing universe with a history worth dying for. 3. Characters: One thing fantasy authors fail to do properly is characters. The author proves this thought completely wrong. Aparna Verma's ability to write raw,realistic and relatable characters is by far the best thing about the book. Not only i liked the 3 protagonists of the book but also fell in love with the side characters. 4. Plot twists and Writing Style: Aparna Verma knows the right balance between flowery language and fast paced action scenes. She writes wonderfully and keeps the reader hooked for all of the book. I couldn't breathe for the last few chapters of the book, it was that good. Final thoughts: I loved this book so much that its unfair that I'll probably need to wait a long time for the next 2 books in the Ravence triology. Out of the box and filled with tropes that aren't used as much or properly executed, the author is incredible and has written a strong debut that is going to change the world of fantasy literature. Also the Indian rep here is amazing, the accurate depiction of our culture is just ❤
Okay, I will be updating this review once the official release is out because my ARC was unfortunately lacking some of the glorious content 😔✊🏾. If you're tired of reading stories where the lines between good/evil are too clear cut, you will immensely enjoy this. Its easy enough to say that I think we've all grown out of yearning for a High Strung Hero, an either an Irredeemable Evil or an Evil thats how it is due to "society" treating them as an outcast. Of course, I think the latter can be more enjoyable when done correctly and the former can be enjoyable when the character is three dimensional. This book has that. You will LOVE the moral dilemma and complexity that plagues each narrator. Yassen and Elena are incredibly fleshed out characters and Leo is absolutely a driving force of ordered chaos. The lore of this book is based upon various Desi mythology (YESSSS) and while it is not meant to represent it traditionally, the Eastern influence is clearly captivating and will be engaging for readers who aren't familiar with the beauty of Desi mythos. Dare I say, The Boy With Fire will open up the gate for more people to embrace sci fi/fantasy with a background and setting based in a Pan-Asian experience. The Boy With Fire is marketed as Dune meets the Poppy War. I can definitely see reminiscent of Dune in the socioeconomic and sociopolitical climate and the Poppy War in the exploration of the characters' morality and ethical expositions. That being said, The Boy With Fire stands well on its own and provides unique characteristics that blend together with its developing atmosphere. I can say all that with an Incomplete ARC. I just know I will devour the full manuscript. PLEASE read this book. You're soul will thank you.
This book is extremely well written - it has a complex world and interesting characters. The ending took me by complete surprise and I can't wait to read the sequel when ever it releases! I will be looking for books by Aparna Verma in the future!
This book was a wonderful read. The author's writing is truly beautiful as it pulls you along Yassen's and Elena's journey. The author was able to world build so beautiful that you felt like you were right there with the characters. Using Indian mythology was a great idea as I feel it is one that is not typically depicted in most books (although this is starting to change). In addition, the character development was well done. The character's actions and growth made sense. Sometimes having multiple POVs don't always work, but I have to say this was not the case for this story. I truly enjoyed reading about Yassen's, Elena's, and Leo's points of view. Having Leo's point of view has to be one of the best ideas the author had in creating this book. It is not very often that readers get the tyrant's point of view, especially with Leo being the father of the main character. The book does have a slow start but as you continue reading it slowly starts to draw you in, to the point where you can't put it down. One of my favorite parts has to be the ending of the story. With so many unknowns about what's going to happen with the two main characters, I excitedly look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy. Overall a 4.5/5 star rating.
There is no simple way to put it, but I absolutely loved 'The Boy With Fire'. Right from the start, I was completely pulled into the story. Aparna Verma's prose is enchanting and I could easily imagine scenes from the book playing out in front of me, like they were a movie. This book gets really dark at times; and that's one of the things that elevates it for me. It doesn't shy away from showing power and madness and how selfish desires can lead to your own destruction. The book is told in three point of views; Elena Ravence, her father and king Leo Ravence, and Yassen Knight. Each of these characters are completely distinct from each other and are complex in their own way. I loved them all, but I have to say my favorite was definitely Yassen. And the ending? It broke me. I sort of saw what was coming, but still it was painful and it essentially pulled out my heart and ripped it into two. It's such a fantastic debut and I'm so excited to learn what comes next!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. When I heard this was a fantasy book inspired by Indian mythology and has morally grey characters,I immediately wanted to read it. Our culture is so beautiful and we aren’t really represented enough in this genre. But I’m glad to day that this book exceeded my expectations. It took me a few chapters to get into the story but once I got through it ,I couldn’t get enough. I loved how aesthetically pleasing the book is. The scenic beauty of Ravence,the legend and myths, and the world building was so beautifully described and it was easy to get lost in. Also, all the desi terms and influences in the story got me really excited each time. Aparna's writing flows smoothly and is easy to follow. What made me love the book even more were the characters. They were all so complex and had to make ruthless decisions that had terrible consequences. But they had their own insecurities and fears . It was so easy to relate to them and love them despite their flaws. It is really great for a debut and a captivating read. I really liked it and I can’t wait to find out more about the fates of the characters.
e-arc provided by netgalley in exchange for an honest review. "to be forgiven, one must be burned." this has got to be one of the most well-crafted debut novels i've ever read. everything from the cast of characters -a future queen on a warpath, a sorrowful ex-assassin, and an increasingly unhinged dilf- to the world and its politics, felt as real and fleshed out as if this was the seventh book in a series. the recent heat wave certainly helped, but the way the author writes just transports you right to the middle of a desert. the prose is simple enough not to get mixed up in, but at times so beautiful and lyrical i had to reread a passage thrice and write it down. and while the glossary may seem intimidating at first, i don't think this book would be as good as it was if it took place on Earth... But Magic™. i might not be fully clear on what a brenni looks like, but i want one. i won't regurgitate the plot summary you've probably read, but i will say that it surprised me how the three different plotlines wove together and even ran parallel at times. it made for an exciting read, and seeing an event from multiple perspectives (while not just rehashing information i already have) definitely helped me get into the story a lot more than if it had been just one pov. that said, leo's perspective was definitely my favourite. not that i liked 95% of what he did, but it was fun to read about, in a 'detective trying to figure out the crime' kind of way. the worldbuilding could be a bit heavy-handed at times, but i find that's the case with most fantasy books, anyway. my only real gripe was with the pacing, which could be inconsistent at times, but the last 15% of the book more than made up for it. and, of course, the epilogue chapter, which i read with a hand up to my mouth from shock alone. gonna have to start campaigning for a sequel first thing tomorrow. read 'the boy with fire', join the fight
OK WOW, iam literally speechless at how good this book is.Iam from India and I know ,not many books have indian representation.When the author said that this book has indian mythology i was immediately intrigued and OH BOY,did this book surprise me or what..I went through soo many emotions while reading this ,I am soo emotionally spent right now. So, we get 3 pov's in this book and I have to say I LOVED ALL THOSE 3 ,one would say more than I probably should lol.I literally started missing the characters as soon as I finished the books and started rereading it.The plot really felt cohesive and true to its nature.Usually ,one element or the other overshadows another thing,but omg the way aparna verma balanced the character moments and the story was truly admirable.U can see the reason for the things they do despite being like omg..Leo is probably my favourite character lol. Aparna Verma's writing is my most favourite thing ever.Its not overly-complex nor too simple ,its perfect mix of simple and complex that gives a amazing combination of beautiful writing.Safe to say,I WILL be reading anything she puts out from now.100% recommend a boy with fire for YA fans.