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Literature / Empirium

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The world will fall. Two Queens will rise.

In a world where people can control only one element, Rielle Dardenne can control all seven. There are just two people are said to possess such power: the Sun Queen- a woman who will bring light to the world- and the Blood Queen- a woman who will bring death and destruction. However, the prophecy does not state which Queen will appear first. For all her father knows, Rielle could be either.

In an effort to keep her safe from such scrutiny, he forces Rielle to keep her powers hidden, only letting the most trusted individuals know about her abilities. This works for eighteen years until Rielle sneaks herself into the annual horse race. During this, her close friend and crush, Prince Audric, is ambushed by a group of assassins. In order to save him, she reveals her multielemental status, killing the assassins and over a dozen other innocent racers in the process.


Questioning her intentions and control over her powers, the King gives Rielle an ultimatum: she must face seven trials that will test her powers and morality. If she passes all seven trials, she will be deemed the Sun Queen, savior of the land. If she fails, she will be executed- if she even survives the trials first.

Over 1,000 years in the future lives one Eliana Ferracora. She is a young women with a secret: she is nigh invulnerable. Cuts and bruises heal quickly and even falling off a roof leaves not a scratch. This mysterious power is an asset given that she is a bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, a ruthless regime that invaded her kingdom and many others.

When women and girls start to mysteriously vanish, Eliana suspects that the Empire is behind it all. After her own mother disappears, she teams up with the Wolf, a masked stranger who says he will help her if she assists him first. Desperate to save her remaining parent, Eliana agrees.


In a story that spans centuries, Rielle and Eliana's fight against the perils that threaten them begin to intersect. It is these connections that will ultimately determine the fate of their lives and of their world.

The Empirium Trilogy is a series of YA Fantasy novels written by Claire Legrand. Each book starts with a prologue and alternates between Rielle and Eliana's eras.

The series consists of:

  • Furyborn (2018)
  • Kingsbane (2019)
  • Lightbringer (2020)

This series provides examples of:

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  • All Your Powers Combined: The Blood and Sun Queen have access to all seven elements. The Blood Queen is a villainous version, whereas the Sun Queen is the heroic variant.
  • Alternative Calendar: The timeline is split between three eras: the First Age, the Second Age, and the Third Age. Month names, number of days, etc. are the same as real life.
  • Anachronic Order: Each book begins with a prologue that explains how Eliana was brought into the future and how Simon met the Undying Emperor. The first book jumps back two years previous; the rest of Rielle's story shows what she was like before she became the Blood Queen and exactly how that happened. Additionally, there's a 1,020 year time difference between the time that Rielle and Eliana's stories take place. Each chapter alternates between the two time periods with viewpoints from other characters added in later books.
  • And I Must Scream: Upon entering the Deep, the angels are stripped of their bodies with only their consciousnesses left.
  • Another Dimension: This is where the cruciata came from.
  • Anti-Human Alliance: Angels hate humans due to them claiming land that, they feel, is rightfully theirs. They banded together in order to kill them off, starting the Angelic Wars.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: The Blood Queen has the power to bring the angels back, effectually ushering in the end of humanity.
  • Arranged Marriage: The Courverie's (the ruling family) and the Sauvillier's (nobility) are planning for Audric and Ludivine to be in one, of the "politically advantageous" kind. Audric and Ludivine have known each other since childhood and are close friends, but neither of them are particularly eager to get married: Audric is in love with Rielle and Ludivine doesn't want to come between them. The arrangement breaks down later on and Audric ends up marrying Rielle.
  • Background Magic Field: The empirium is a magical force that everything is made out of. The ability to tap into it is what gives humans their powers.
  • Barrier Maiden: The Sun Queen is stated to have the power to save the world.
  • Constructed World: The world of Aritas has very different geography and history from our own.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Corien's main goal is to push Rielle into accepting the fact that she's the Blood Queen and eventually turn her against the people of Celdaria. He ends up doing exactly that.
  • Elemental Powers: There are seven main powers that can manifest in a person:
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Each chapter begins with a quote of some kind. These quotes can be from an In-Universe book, an excerpt from a character's letter, something a deceased character said, etc. All quotes are relevant to the chapter in some way, though the relevance for some are more vague than others.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Rielle's story details her turning from a heroic icon for her country and loved ones into the ally the angels have been waiting centuries for. Kingsbane shows the exact point in which she goes to join Corien.
  • Fantastic Racism: There is equal animosity between humans and angels. Angels hate humans because they keep taking land they lived on first. Humans hate angels because the angels keep killing them for reasons out of their control.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The seven Saints were humans that were each exceptionally gifted in a particular magic. They created the Gate and were the ones that helped end the Angelic Wars. In Rielle's time, temples dedicated to each Saint exist as well as prayers related to that particular saint's magic. (There are also many references to God, but it's unclear if this God is the same or similar to the Christian God/Jesus Christ.)
  • Feminist Fantasy: The series features two female leads that drive their own stories.
  • Foregone Conclusion: There's no attempt made to hide what becomes of Rielle and which of the prophesied Queens Eliana will become. The main questions then are "What events lead to Rielle becoming the Blood Queen?" and "Will Eliana be able to defeat the Undying Emperor and restore the empirium?".
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Blood Queen, though she's not necessarily an actual Queen. It does turn literal after Rielle marries Audric.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Angelic Wars were a series of battles between humans and angels.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Marques are beings that are half-human, half-angel. Since part of their blood is angelic, all of them have the ability to time travel and teleport.
    • Half-Breed Discrimination: However, it's because of these powers and their half-breed status that they were hunted down by both humans and angels.
  • Heroic Second Wind:
    • In Furyborn, Eliana gets one during the fight with the Empire fleet. Exhausted, hungry, and distraught after killing Rozen, she starts a raging storm without even realizing that that's what she's doing.
    • In Kingsbane- when it becomes apparent that her newly unleashed powers won't come to her willingly- Eliana believes that this trope is the only way she'll be able to use her powers in an upcoming mission. So she tries to invoke this by deliberately depriving herself of food, foregoing sleep, and just generally not taking care of herself. It works. Thankfully, she no longer needs this trope once she grows more used to her powers and how they work.
  • Heroic Fantasy/High Fantasy: The setting and overall story have shades of each.
  • Kill All Humans: Angels have this ideology against humans, seeing them as an invasive species that's trying to take over their homeland. They attempted to wipe them out as a result of this.
  • Love-Obstructing Parents: Rielle's father and both Ludivine's and Audric's parents don't approve of Rielle and Audric becoming a couple. In Ludivine and Audric's case it's because their parents want to join their families in marriage. In Rielle's case, it's because her father doesn't want her to overshadow Audric's talent or accidentally kill him.
  • Matricide:
    • Part of Rielle's backstory includes her accidentally killing her mother.
    • In Furyborn, after Rozen becomes a literal monster, Eliana mercy kills her to put her out of her misery.
  • Named Weapons: Several characters give their weapons names. Audric's casting is named Illumenor and Eliana has Arabeth and Whistler among others.
  • Our Angels Are Different: In this world, angels are winged humanoid beings with various powers that are separate from the main seven. They also existed before humans.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Wraiths are angels that were stripped of a physical body.
  • Plot Parallel: Much of Rielle and Eliana's plot parallel each other, from the broader strokes (becoming one of the two prophesied Queens) to some minor details (such as each of them having a Wraith ally).
  • The Prophecy: "The Gate will fall. The angels will return and bring ruin to the world. You will know this time by the rise of two human Queens- one of blood, and one of light. One with the power to save the world. One with the power to destroy it. Two Queens will rise. They will carry the power of the Seven. They will carry your fate in their hands. Two Queens will rise."
  • Power Crutch: Each human has to craft a casting through which they can channel their abilities. Even the Saints, as strong as they were, needed one. The fact that each of the prophesied Queens don't need one is another mark of how powerful they are.
  • The Reveal:
    • In Furyborn, Ludivine is revealed to have been an angel the entire time.
    • In Kingsbane, Simon is revealed to be a double agent for the Empire and Ioseph- Eliana's adoptive father- was taken over by an angel.
    • In Lightbringer, the Prophet appears in person.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: Since Eliana is the one person with the power to defeat the Undying Empire, Simon does everything he can to keep her alive, if not safe.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Gate is a powerful barrier that keeps the angels from returning.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ludivine has been secretly rooting for Rielle and Audric to get together, as it's quite obvious the two are head over heels for one another.
  • Space Master/Time Master: Marques have both the ability to teleport and time travel.
  • Twopart Trilogy: Averted. The series was always intended to be three parts, with each subsequent book adding on to the previous one.
  • Void Between the Worlds: The Deep is an empty pocket of nothing.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each element comes with its own type of weapon. Characters who partake in battle also have their preferences regarding weaponry.
    • Elemental Weapon: Audric's casting is a sword made out of light.
    • Knife Nut: Eliana the bounty hunter prefers knives and daggers, even giving each one a name.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Rielle desperately tries to convince everyone- herself included- that she's the Sun Queen. She eventually realizes that there's no point trying to fight who she is anymore and fully embraces being the Blood Queen.
  • Horseback Heroism: During the Boon Chase- an annual horse race- Rielle sees Audric about to be attacked by assassins. Without a second thought, she rides to where he is and uses her powers to stop the assassins.
  • How We Got Here: The book starts with Rielle giving birth to Eliana and facing down Corien, an encounter that leads to Eliana and Simon being thrust into the future and the empirium being stifled.
  • Inciting Incident: Rielle fighting off Audric's assassins is what makes her reveal her powers, kicking off her storyline. Rozen's disappearance is what gets Eliana to team up with the Wolf, starting hers.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Rielle and Audric are about to go all the way when Ludivine's father walks in on them.
  • Mercy Kill: When Eliana finds Rozen in a monstrous state, she kills her, knowing that leaving her alive would be more cruel.
  • Mission Creep: At the start, Eliana's main mission is to rescue her mother. By the end, it's to find and kill the Emperor.
  • Patricide: After the fire trial turns deadly, Rielle ends up killing her father by accident.
  • Promotion to Parent: Eliana becomes Remy's sole caretaker after killing her mother. (Their father has been out of the picture for some time.)
  • Screaming Birth: The book opens with Rielle screaming while giving birth to Eliana.
  • Trial by Ordeal: In order to determine whether Rielle is the Blood or Sun Queen, King Bastien has Rielle undergo seven trials, one for each element. If she can control her powers and prove her virtuousness, then she will be declared the Sun Queen. If not, then she'll either die in one of the trials or be executed as the Blood Queen. She gets through five of them successfully until chaos erupts during the fire trial.
  • Alternate Timeline: Eliana's brief interaction with Rielle altered present day Ventera as well as various characters and their pasts.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Eliana forges a casting with the hope that it will help her use her powers more easily.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: About a quarter of the way through the novel, other characters get chapters where they're front and center; Corien gets two and Simon, Navi, Ludivine, Jessamyn, Harkan, and Audric each get one.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Rielle has one while fantasizing about Audric and Ludivine.
  • Body Horror: Upon coming across a severely wounded solider, Rielle tries to heal him. Not only does it not work, the flesh she tries to regrow ends up enveloping her hands. By the time Audric snaps her out of her trance, that soldier is nothing more a large puddle of blood and guts.
  • From Bad to Worse: For both Rielle and Eliana; Rielle starts out the book with many dissenters who accuse her of being the Blood Queen and finishes the book mindlessly killing bodyguards on her way to join Corien. In Eliana's case, the mission to travel back in time to stop Rielle was not as easy as Simon had thought and the consequences of her time in Old Celdaria changed several people and past events for the worse. Then Simon reveals that he's been working for the Undying Empire this whole time and her once thought-to-be deceased father is the Emperor's Admiral.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: In order to restore the Gate, Rielle is tasked with finding all seven of the Saint's castings, the logic being that it's entirely possible that the castings remember how the Gate was made, which will make repairing it more successful. Rielle manages to get three castings before her situation gets infinitely worse.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted twice. The very first chapter opens with Rielle lamenting the fact that Sun Queen status doesn't lessen her period cramps. Later on, Eliana starts hers and experiences the cramps that come with it for the first time. (Her healing ability meant she never felt them up until her powers finally broke free.)
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Rielle tries to repair the fissures in the Gate on her own. Her efforts end with it being more cracked than before.
    • Eliana goes back in time in an effort to convince Rielle to not join Corien. Not only does she fail, her presence in Old Celdaria changed things for the worse in present day Ventera.
    • After being shown what actually happened to his father, Audric confronts Rielle about her lies. Their argument ends with Audric saying that she probably is the Blood Queen that everyone thinks she is. This turns out to be the event that finally tips Rielle over to joining Corien.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Using Simon's ability to travel back in time, Eliana attempts to talk to Rielle in an effort to stop her from joining Corien. Rielle, thinking her appearance is a trick by Corien, attacks Eliana in short order, forcing Eliana to retreat back to her own era.
  • Unwanted Rescue: After tumbling off of a balcony, Rielle manages to bring Genoveve back to life. Genoveve weeps upon being revived, wishing she had been left for dead so she could see her recently deceased husband again.


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