We Are the Fire
by Sam Taylor
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 16th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
As electrifying as it is heartbreaking, Sam Taylor’s explosive fantasy debut We Are the Fire is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes and the legend of Spartacus.
In the cold, treacherous land of Vesimaa, children are stolen from their families by a cruel emperor, forced to undergo a horrific transformative procedure, and serve in the army as magical fire-wielding soldiers. Pran and Oksana―both taken from their homeland at a young age―only have each other to hold onto in this heartless place.
Pran dreams of one day rebelling against their oppressors and destroying the empire; Oksana only dreams of returning home and creating a peaceful life for them both.
When they discover the emperor has a new, more terrible mission than ever for their kind, Pran and Oksana vow to escape his tyranny once and for all. But their methods and ideals differ drastically, driving a wedge between them. Worse still, they both soon find that the only way to defeat the monsters that subjugated them may be to become monsters themselves.
“How, Pran?” She pressed her head against his. “How will we do better?”
He wished he had an answer, a plan for how they could break from this fort. Leave it all behind and stay free, not be dragged back in chains and burned at stakes with a fire of their own creation. It hurt as much as his thigh, admitting he didn’t know, that all he had was hope.
But after seven years in this fort, hope was nothing to scoff at. Seven years surviving meant they were capable of so much more.
“We’ll find a way. You and I, we’ve always found a way. When we were Novices, you didn’t want to cast fire, but you learned it to teach me, so I’d stay alive. We’ll do that again but stronger, learn everything they demand from us as Hellions, and use all of it to turn this fort on its head. We’ll make our lives our own, and we’ll do it at each other’s side.”
Before he could talk himself out of it again, he plucked the ring from his pocket. It was silver, a thin band engraved with roses, poppies, yarrow, and peonies, exactly like the wreaths she’d talked of wearing at dance festivals with her mother and sister.
Oksana’s jaw dropped as he passed the ring to her. “Where did you get this?”
He’d stolen this ring during a mission last spring. He’d been sent out before nightfall, when the markets were still open, and while slinking through the shadows behind stalls, a silver gleam caught his eye. The moment he saw this ring, he wanted it for Oksana, something so clearly from her homeland.
Then he’d seen the words inside—in Horádimian, no less: Ya abetschayu. I promise.
A flush bloomed across Oksana’s cheeks as she caught sight of those words.
“You promise . . . what?”
That was what he hadn’t known for so long. How could he promise anything when he had no control over his life? But after tonight, this change in rank . . . he would not spend such power bending to the Commanders’ whims.
He lifted the ring from Oksana’s trembling hand, though his own shook so badly he could hardly slide the ring onto her finger. “I don’t know what our future holds.” He cupped her face in his hands, and only then did they go still.
“But I want to give us freedom. And I’d like to share it with you.”
She was silent for so long he feared he’d said the wrong thing. Perhaps these claims, this ring, were too absurd, too much this impossible night.
But then she leaned close until her breath fluttered like a moth against his jaw.
“That is a future worth fighting for.”
Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona’s deserts and now lives among Connecticut’s trees. She spends her days writing, being mom to the world’s cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes. She does not possess fire magic, but does have one fire-colored cat. We Are the Fire is her debut novel.
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