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The official CHAOS & FLAME recap to read before BLOOD & FURY!

If you love dragons, magic, and an irresistible enemies-to-lovers romance, then we’ve found the duology for you! Blood & Fury, the conclusion to the Chaos & Flame duology, is on shelves this Tuesday. In case you need a book one refresher, we asked co-author Tessa Gratton to remind us of all the BIG things to remember before diving into the explosive finale.

Scroll down for Tessa Gratton’s official recap of Chaos & Flame, and remember to get your copy here!


I’m Tessa Gratton, co-author of Chaos & Flame and the sequel Blood & Fury, which releases on May 14th! This duology follows two ferocious warriors from opposite sides of a hundred-years war as they come together under the machinations of a mad king, forced to work side-by-side, falling for each other and into the mad king’s trap to revive the ancient monsters that used to rule the land.

Book 1 ended with quite the appalling cliff-hanger, everyone keeps telling us, so I hope you’re excited to find out what happens next to Darling and Talon (and Caspian). Penguin Teen challenged us to recap the most important things to remember from Chaos before Blood releases in a few weeks. I further challenged myself to do it…without looking anything up!

Here goes:

DARLING SEABREAK is a daring assassin for House Kraken, raised by their patriarch after her own family—House Sphinx—was massacred by the vicious House Dragon. She spent years living and hiding underground, and thanks to Chaos—the wild magic threaded throughout the land—her eyes are beautiful pools of silver-violet, and she sees best in the dark. During the day she wears shaded goggles to protect herself. She’s a skilled fighter, a strong leader, but longs to be able to stop fighting and killing.

TALON GOLDHOARD is the scion of House Dragon and has been raised in the army. He serves his brother, the current High Prince Regent, as his War Prince. He’s never known anything but war, and like Darling, he hates it. He’s worried about the future of Pyrlanum and his own family—Caspian who everyone believes to be mad thanks to his boon, and his aunt Aurora (wow I had to think for a minute to remember her name!!!).

  1. For most of Talon’s life his brother Caspian has been painting the same strange figure over and over again: a dark-skinned girl with no eyes, or eyes made of pearls or fire or bottomless red pits.
  2. When Talon and Darling come face to face during battle Talon recognizes her from Caspian’s paintings immediately. He manages to win their duel thanks to his ally and friend Finn, and brings Darling back to Phoenix Crest because he knows she’s important.
  3. Caspian is delighted to meet the girl from his dreams, and immediately makes a deal with Darling to name her the heir to House Sphinx and end the war. In return she gets reparations which is a line Justina wrote and I remember laughing pretty hard when I read that chapter.
  4. Talon feels very close to his Aunt Aurora, like she’s his only ally in worry about Caspian’s state of mind, but he also brought Elias to Phoenix Crest to help Caspian. Elias is a healer from House Griffon who specializes in boons, and Talon fears Caspian’s boon is what is driving him crazy.
  5. Everyone has boons! The way that Chaos has manifested in the land for the past few generations is by giving most people random gifts. Some are huge like prophecy (which tends to make their wielder untrustworthy) but others can be as simple as being able to summon a candle flame or grow plants. Caspian’s secret boon is prophecy, but it doesn’t work the way people think it does, and he and his sneaky Aunt Aurora have hidden from everyone that he paints prophecy. (And dreams it.) Talon’s boon is tracking, which means he’s…good at tracking. He can also use it to “track” how people fight, allowing him an advantage. Darling’s boon is healing. Which will definitely come in very handy in that cliffhanger.

6. Caspian declares he’ll take Darling on a tour of the nation, culminating in a ceremony to officially name her the heir to House Sphinx and end the war! Huzzah!

7. There are rumors Caspian plans to marry Darling, which he doesn’t mind, but both Talon and Darling dislike. Darling claims to hate both sons of House Dragon, and Talon is aware of his attraction to Darling, but doesn’t think it will matter.

8. On the tour we meet the regent of House Griffon who is amazing, smart, has a huge library, and is actually friends with Caspian. I am sure she has a great name. Also on the tour Caspian shifts between playful and terrible, flirting with Darling and acting strange with Talon, as if he expects to die. Talon and Darling continue to dance around each other.

9. Don’t forget the war drakes! They’re more like huge velociraptors than dragons, but technically in this world they are dragons. They’re the preferred mounts of House Dragon, and are very temperamental, with jewel-like eyes and feather crests. Darling is charmed by Talon’s war drake and names her Kitty.

10. During the tour Caspian seems to be collecting things from each house. A Griffon-claw dagger, the emerald eye of House Cockatrice…other…things…

11. Darling’s allies from House Kraken are following her, eager to exploit her position in House Dragon, especially her friend whose boon is invisibility. He can slip in and out easily, and delivers to Darling a poison that rubs on her lips, with which she’s supposed to kill Talon and/or Caspian. Darling doesn’t think that’s a good idea, even though she does sometimes want both Dragon princes dead. She thinks Caspian truly wants peace.

12. Vivian! Vivian is the name of the House Griffon regent!

13. The party is attacked by wild drakes and Darling and Talon must fight together to save everyone, which brings them closer. At the same time, Talon realizes his brother predicted the attack exactly.

14. Darling and Talon kiss for the first time at House Cockatrice, high up on a peak near an old handprint supposedly burned into the stone by the First Phoenix.

15. Directly after their kiss, Talon is caretaking his mad brother, when he senses an assassin. He tracks the assassin and ends up killing him—it’s Darling’s invisible friend. This was a really intense scene to write, that is what I remember most.

16. The grand tour is cut short because the regent of House Barghest is murdered and they have to speed up to be there for the naming of the new regent. Things are tense between Darling and Talon, though they’re starting to trust each other, want each other, and hope that maybe, just maybe, things can work out for them. (Uh oh.)

17. At House Bargest, all the players arrive together (except Vivian, who can’t arrive from House Griffon fast enough). There is a huge party/wake to celebrate the life of the Barghest regent, with dancing and fires and wine. Darling and Talon finally get together! Talon realizes that with Darling the regent of House Sphinx and Caspian the regent of House Dragon they can’t really be an item, despite rumors and their weird friendship. But Talon is only the scion. He can marry Darling and solidify the peace and alliance between the Houses that originated the war. He’ll leave Dragon for her. For peace. Darling can hardly believe it, but she wants Talon, and decides to trust him with her heart. 

18. Darling learns the hard way not to trust a Dragon with her heart! The next day the ceremony for naming the new Barghest regent goes wrong when an evil uncle is named instead of the rightful young heir. Caspian loses it, confused and angry, but he leaves dramatically just in time for House Kraken to attack from the bay. Talon keeps Darling’s adoptive father the regent of House Kraken captive instead of freeing him.


20. Darling goes after Caspian to reason with him, while Talon tries to rally his army to stave off Kraken’s attack. He follows his Aunt Aurora who’s taken the Kraken regent into her custody, bursting into Aurora’s room just in time to see her bury her hand in Leonetti’s chest, tearing out his heart to use for gruesome blood magic! She’s been using blood magic to fake a prophecy boon! Talon is horrified and immediately orders her arrest. But! Not before Aurora says that Darling is going to kill Caspian with a kiss. !!!

21. Finn (Talon’s second in command and very good friend) runs up to Talon and says he caught Darling getting her dagger, and that she had a poison lip balm. Talon believes Aurora’s prophecy and runs after Darling.

22. Meanwhile, Darling finds Caspian on the ramparts of Barghest castle, putting together a ritual with objects from all of the House empyreals. He’s planned for years to find the pieces and Darling, and perform this ritual to bring back the Phoenix, who creates and maintains peace and balance. He traps Darling, still acting very strange, and starts his ritual. He uses every item, and finally eats a piece of the Last Phoenix’s heart before kissing Darling.

23. Talon bursts onto the ramparts with Finn and Elias just as they kiss—and explode into flame! From the conflagration rise a massive dragon and a fiery phoenix. The beasts fly way together, spiraling in magical, furious communion!

24. There is a kraken destroying ships in the bay, indicating that whatever Caspian did, it changed their whole world. (That might be the actual last line of the book???)


I’m sure I missed some nuance, but those are the big beats. What a ride! I’m glad to have gone through this, because it made me remember what we did in Blood & Fury and how everything pulls together (falls apart).

Blood & Fury picks up a few months after that devastating finale, with Talon alone, trying to find his brother and all the missing regents who transformed into ancient empyreals. He’s barely holding the nation together, barely managing to make House Dragon serve him in bringing wide-spread peace. There will be so many more monsters, more kissing, a Caspian apology tour—just kidding, Caspian would never apologize for anything!—and an explosion of magic that was so much fun to write. Plus! More species of drakes.

Check out details for Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton’s book launch event here!

Penguin Teen