Legendborn Novel Summary and Themes

 Legendborn Novel Summary and Theme

A cop tells Bree that her mom died in a car crash. She senses magic around the cop. Three months later, Bree is at UNC Chapel Hill’s Early College program with her best friend Alice Chen. Their friend Charlotte invites them to a cliff-diving party where they meet her boyfriend Evan.

Bree meets Sel and sees a beast. Sel and a young lady named Peak battle this animal after Sel mesmered (mysteriously spellbound) everybody except Bree, who is resistant. The police show up and return Alice and Bree to their residence at Sel's order.

Because of this, the Senior member of Understudies says Bree and Alice should have peer coaches. Bree's tutor Scratch finds her and they experience another mystical animal, which harms Bree as Scratch kills it. He takes her to a house where she is mended by William and again mesmered by Sel.

The following morning, Bree opposes Sel's mesmer. With her memory flawless, she recognizes the Hotel of the Request for the Round Table. Bree goes to the Cabin and requests Scratch assist her with disentangling the secret encompassing her mother's demise by supporting her to join the Request. Scratch hesitantly acknowledges.

Bree joins a competition to turn into an Assistant and meets different competitors: some are caring to her and others offer bigoted remarks. The up-and-comers make otherworldly Vows in the forest. Bree meets Scratch's father, Davis, and learns Scratch is the main successor to the amazing Arthur. Sel is Scratch's Kingsmage: a Merlin. Toward the finish of the function, a Request part is Stirred (moved by) a Knight and a hellhound assaults. Bree and Sel kill the hellhound; William mends wounds. William takes Bree to the Mass of Ages and makes sense of the set of experiences and powers of the Request.

At the quarters, Bree contends with Alice; the following day Bree's father calls and says she needs to go to treatment. Bree meets a specialist named Patricia who tells Bree her mother was a professional of Rootcraft — a matrilineal Dark profound practice.

Bree gets back to the Hotel; Sel thinks Bree is an evil presence in camouflage. In the main competition occasion, Bree and her accomplice pass the principal round. An evil spirit assaults Scratch, yet Sel kills it. Bree visits Scratch after William mends him and stays in Scratch's room. They don't kiss until the following morning when he drops her off at her quarters.

Patricia meets Bree in the burial ground, and they go on a Rootcraft memory walk where Bree sees Patricia's predecessor helping a lady who was whipped by a slave driver, the introduction of a junction kid (part-evil spirit), and a Door — an entry for devils — being opened nearby. Bree races to the Hotel to inform Scratch regarding the Door yet can't track down him; she converses with William and learns Merlins are part-evil spirit. Sel comes to the clinic and contends with them.

Sel starts the following competition preliminary — a puzzle scrounger chase — and matches himself with Bree. Hellfoxes assault them, it Sel's wizardry to eat. They get away from through an arrangement of passages, however the hellfoxes are holding up outside. Bree and Sel kill them with sorcery. They meet with the Request and learn Pinnacle has Stirred. Scratch punches Sel and gets Bree mended prior to kissing her goodnight.

Patricia and Bree meet Mariah, who attempts yet neglects to assist Bree with reaching her progenitors. Back at the Cabin, Bree starts battle preparing. Patricia stops by Bree's residence and says she is finishing their treatment meetings.

Bree completes seven days of battle preparing with Sel. She endures the battle preliminary several successes in coordinates with training weapons. She is taken out by Vaughn after their match is called, and William recuperates her once more.

Bree converses with an aether-intoxicated Sel. Sel brings Bree to his and Scratch's experience growing up back home where they find a record about the Door being opened. It goes against everything Sel was said to about his mother and shows Bree's mother was killed in a fender bender while being observed by the Request. Bree stays away from the Request individuals — including Scratch.

Bree's father gives her mother's wristband which contains a memory about the powers of her maternal line: both Bloodcraft and Rootcraft. Bree endeavors to reach her predecessors once more. She becomes moved by her grandma, it is a Medium to uncover that she. Her grandma says she'll contact another predecessor who is familiar with Bloodcraft.

Bree goes to the Request's Choice Celebration. She hits the dance floor with Sel, and Scratch requests that she be his Assistant. She acknowledges, irritating the Request. Bree sneaks a kiss with Scratch before she is grabbed by Davis' Kingsmage, Isaac.

Davis offers bigot and chauvinist remarks and Isaac undermines Alice, so Bree leaves the Request. Bree is moved by an alternate progenitor who assists her with recuperating Alice. Bree uncovers everything to Alice, and they consent to battle the Request together. They learn evil spirits that are gathering in the focal point of grounds where Excalibur is held. Bree goes through the passages with Fitz and Evan. Fitz is killed and Evan is uncovered to be a devil in mask. Bree thumps him into a gorge.

Bree's progenitor Vera co-has her body and takes Bree on a memory walk. Bree learns one of the main beneficiaries of Arthur impregnated Vera while she was a slave, and hence moved Arthur to their line. Arthur stirs in Bree, Rhaz returns with additional devils, and Bree/Arthur removes Excalibur from the stone.Many Order members die in the fight. Sel shapeshifts, and Nick Awakens as Lancelot before being abducted by Davis and Isaac. Arthur has the remaining Order members kneel before he allows Bree to regain control of her body. She has everyone rise and puts the sword back in the stone.

After she is healed, Bree and Sel go off into the woods together. She jumps off the cliff from the beginning of the novel. The story is left open-ended, presumably for the yet to be published remaining books in the trilogy.

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Legendborn Character Analysis


Bree is the first-person narrator of Legendborn. She’s Black, “beautiful” (69), “stunning” (411), and as tall as many men—like UNC’s Dean of Students—at 16 years old. The novel begins with the death of her mother, Faye, in a car accident, which gives Bree Sight: the ability to see magical energy (aether or root). Once she starts classes at UNC Chapel Hill’s Early College, she begins to seek answers about her mom and her mother’s family. At the end of the novel, Bree learns she is a Medium and possessed by King Arthur: the heir of two magical traditions.

However, Bree’s character arc is atypical because she is a young Black woman who inherited Arthur’s Bloodcraft-bound spirit through the peculiar institution of slavery. Bree says, “I’m not some chosen one. I am the product of violence, and I am the Scion of Arthur, and I don’t want to be either” (479). Her family line is not well-known in the (white) magical world, like that of Harry Potter (a series directly alluded to in Legendborn); rather, she and the magic users of her direct maternal line are outcast from both magical worlds, white Bloodcraft and Black Rootcraft, due to an heir of Arthur raping one of his slaves.

In addition to being magically gifted, Bree is also intellectually gifted. From getting excellent grades in her high school English classes to being able to easily answer questions on a UNC Genetics 201 pretest, Bree academically shines. Her ability to enter the Early College program is at least partially due to a scholarship based on “merit” (30).

Bree’s development as a character can also be tracked through her processing of grief and finding community. Emotionally, she becomes divided into Before-Bree and After-Bree: “After-Bree came into being the day after my mom died [...] in a constant state of near explosion” (13). When Bree participates in the ceremony to join the Order, After-Bree’s “anger” (110) threatens to break through, but After-Bree doesn’t claw, “raw and spiteful [...] to the surface” (307) until the Medium Mariah initially reveals that something awful happened to Bree’s ancestor.

Bree starts to repair the split in her identity the second time Mariah helps her contact her ancestors. While Mariah tries to reach Bree’s ancestors, Bree realizes she has to dismantle After-Bree: “bright, unending fury [...] I unwind her” (395). After this event, Bree reiterates “No more Before. No more After” (395, 490). The second time she repeats this phrase—at the end of the novel, before jumping into the Quarry—she adds “Only Now” (490). Bree resolves her identity crisis once she goes through a process of discovery and release.


Sel is “tall, dark-haired” (16), “unsettlingly beautiful” (17); he looks like a bad boy with his all-black wardrobe, “gauged ears bearing small rubber plugs,” and a large number of tattoos, including a magical symbol on his forearm: “a bold black circle divided by five lines into five equal segments” (276). He is moody, often aether-drunk, and well-read in occult philosophy. As a descendant of Merlin, Sel is a “cambion [...] part human and part demon” (244). Merlin’s bloodline gave Sel the powers of a sex demon (incubus), and he was raised to be a sorcerer for the Order from a young age after the Order betrayed his mother. Sel is Oathed to Nick as Kingsmage (25).

In terms of Arthurian archetypes, Sel fills both the roles of Merlin and Guinevere. While learning to become a Merlin (sorcerer) for Nick, Sel developed a crush on Nick. Sel also becomes enamored with Bree over the course of the novel. They have a magical connection from their first meeting when Sel’s “gaze sends tiny, invisible sparks of electricity dancing across [Bree’s] cheek” (17). In the final chapters, Sel says to Bree: “‘You are my king now, cariad.’ His voice carries all the intimacy of a caress, and his eyes are a melted gold” (487). Because Nick is the heir of Lancelot and Bree is the heir of Arthur, Sel’s part in the triangle is the person in love with both Arthur and Lancelot.


Nick, a 17-year-old built like an “Olympic gymnast” (49) with “tousled straw-blond hair” (48) and blue eyes, is Bree’s love interest. He is taller than Bree and is “as smart as he is good-looking” (71). His role is not only as a potential significant other; he is Bree’s Early College peer mentor, sponsors her to join the Order as his Page, and asks her to be his Squire. For most of the novel, Nick—and all the other characters—believe he is the heir of King Arthur: a Legendborn whose Scion is only awakened if Camlann (the final war) arrives.

However, it turns out Nick’s ancestor had an affair with a different Legendborn: a man named Reynolds who actually made Nick the heir of Lancelot. During their first kiss, Bree says she feels “the two sides of our familiar dance. The call and response of trust and loyalty, intermingling until they become a melody” (215). After Nick’s true ancestry comes to light and Bree is Awakened by Arthur, she wonders “how much was me and Nick and how much was Arthur and Lancelot. Call and response [...] tied together by the deep bonds of loyalty and betrayal” (483).


Alice Chen is Bree’s best friend: They enter Early College at UNC as roommates after growing up in Bentonville together. Alice is a short, wiry, lesbian Taiwanese American, who “pushes her round glasses up her nose” (12) and has the energy of a “fierce evil librarian” (67). Her relationship with Bree starts out as “sleepovers and skinned knees and first crushes and always making sure our lockers are side by side” (149). They come into conflict when Bree hides information about the Order. While Bree is trying to keep Alice away from demons, Alice tells Bree’s dad that Bree is staying out late and coming home messy and injured. When Bree protests, her dad says, “Don’t get mad at Alice now! That’s a good friend you got there” (156).

The young women reconcile as Alice helps Bree get ready for the Selection Gala, and events there cause Alice to get pulled into the secret world of the Order and magic. After Isaac (Davis’s Kingsmage) kidnaps and mesmers Alice, Bree’s ancestor Jessie takes over Bree’s body and heals Alice. William is the first member of the Order to accept Alice, saying she’s “catching on fast, all right” (484). When Bree tells Alice everything about her powers, Rootcraft, and the Order, Alice takes her place at Bree’s side, saying: “If this is your fight, then it’s mine too” (431).


William is the Scion of Gawain, a textually important knight due to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a romance story by an unknown author simply known as the Gawain poet. This work includes many specific powers, which results in William’s Bloodcrafter abilities being more specific (and literary) than the other Scions. His formal regalia is all green (in reference to the romance), his strength grows as the time grows closer to noon or midnight, and he has dramatic powers of healing that are critically important throughout the novel. Bree is knocked out seven times throughout the novel and awakens in William’s care four times, with him saving her from death at least twice. When Bree thanks him for these efforts, and questions why he would do this, William responds that “none of us have a choice” (140), alluding to Gawain facing death for no reason but honor in the medieval romance.

While every young-adult character in the novel texts, William’s use of notes—especially notes left attached to the subjects of his healing—outweighs them all. These notes demonstrate his personability and attentiveness even when he isn’t present. He occasionally uses these to provide romantic advice to Bree and operates as her closest friend in the Order.


While Bree is, at first, forced to attend counseling sessions with Dr. Patricia Hartwood, their relationship soon becomes a source of strength. Patricia acts as a connection to both Bree’s mother and the Black community Bree lacks in the Caucasian world of secret societies and hereditary wealth. Patricia respects Bree’s boundaries and supports her—even after Bree is revealed to be a Bloodcrafter.

As both a doctor and a practitioner of Rootcraft, Patricia subverts the classic magic/technology dichotomy, integrating her psychiatric training with her curative rituals. She identifies Persistent Complex Bereavement Syndrome—the source of Bree’s magical difficulties—which allows Bree to both connect with her ancestors and the ancestral power she needs to survive. Her acknowledgement of Bree’s pain with “You’re suffering right now, Bree. More than I realized” (314) leads to this resolution, and Bree’s triumph over the demons.


Like Bree, her father (Mr. Matthews) begins the book grieving for the death of his wife and Bree’s mother, which complicates their relationship. A call from the Dean provokes him into intervening by forcing a therapist, Patricia, on Bree. While intrusive, his actions do help Bree both in the long run, as well as in the short-term, when he arrives unbidden at Bree’s dorm and brings her to Waffle House. The conversation they have—as well as the magical bracelet he gives her—provides Bree with the information and strength to confront the forces arrayed against her.

Bree’s father acts as a foil to Nick’s father, Dr. Martin Davis. Bree’s father loves and cares about his daughter while Nick’s father sees him only as a tool to fulfill his desire to unleash Camlann. Bree’s father is worried about Bree’s isolation, and the trauma she will experience as a Black woman in a gentrified space, and asks if she’s “[m]et any Black kids yet?” (41), a question that is reiterated in the Waffle House when he describes his anger at the Dean.


Martin Davis, generally referred to as “Davis” or “Lord Davis,” is Nick’s father and the secret antagonist. He is extremely deliberate, making plans over decades, and typifies a Southern Gentleman; his accent is indicated in both the dialogue and the narration: “The steps are low and measured, but the older man’s heavy drawl holds barely contained fury” (104). Lord Davis is responsible for the inciting incident of the novel, as it was his orders that opened the Gate which made Bree’s mother the target of the Order’s surveillance. Despite this, he is superficially kind, accepting Bree and thanking her for returning Nick to the Order.

In the conclusion of the novel, this guise is abandoned in a way that reflects his traditionality. He says to Bree, “Malory tells us ‘the very purpose of a knight is to fight on behalf of a lady’! And now my son’s foolishness in choosing you, who sits at the crux of two faults” (423). Quoting Malory as he reveals how misogynistic and racist he really is reflects Davis’s introduction when he quoted Tennyson in defense of Nick and Bree.


“Evan” is the identity assumed by the goruchel Rhaz. Goruchel, like other demons in the world, feed on negative emotions and Evan/Rhaz does this from his introduction. His first line in the novel, “You’re the girl whose mom died, right?” (11) induces a “trickle of pain” (12) inside Bree, which blends in with Charlotte’s vague idioms about grief, but also showcases the similarity between bland human thoughtlessness and actual demonic malice.

When he is revealed to be a demon, his human appearance falls away: “[Rhaz] grins, his human teeth stretching in his mouth until they look like a boar’s canines. His ringers darken and elongate to crimson claws. The skin of his eyes recedes into deep hollows, and his blue eyes bleed to red” (455) shows Rhaz developing from an emotional threat to a physical one—a near-indestructible demon who went undetected due to his Caucasian guise. Bree is able to defeat Rhaz, but it is not clear when the real Evan died.


Tor is one of the Scions to be called by her Knight (Tristan), as well as the first non-Merlin Bloodcrafter Bree witnesses. As an Awakened Scion, as well as a popular and high-class white girl, Tor is a figure of power and authority throughout most of the novel and is generally polite to Bree. Her declaration at the end of the novel, that Bree is “not [her] king” (483) due to Bree’s Blackness and lack of a traditionally upper-class upbringing demonstrates that even in the face of ancient prophecy, racism persists.

Tor’s Knight Tristan is third-ranked, second only to Lancelot before Arthur. In Arthurian myth, Tristan is often conceived as a foil to Lancelot, continuing to support the King until the very end, and lusting after a married woman, but not consummating that infidelity. This creates a paradox, as Lancelot and Tristan’s representatives are inverted in their roles relative to the returned King—Bree.

Legendborn Themes


Legendborn combines two systems of magic in its protagonist; Bree is both a Rootcrafter and a Bloodcrafter. These systems are based in historical occult traditions: the European grimoire tradition as well as the oral traditions of Black rootwork. The systems are distinguished by the language and practices they use—both in Deonn’s novel and her source materials.

The system of magic that The Order of the Round Table uses is inspired by grimoires (books of magic) that can be traced back to medieval and renaissance alchemists. Famous grimoires, like Henry Cornelius Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy, include blood magic that summons demons. This is similar to how Davis uses blood magic to open Gates for Shadowborn with the intent of starting Camlann—the war to end all wars.

The focus on the elements and pentacles (five-pointed stars) in the grimoire tradition is also reflected in the Order. The latter defines magic through five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and aether—or “quintessence”—which, according to Sel’s readings of the Order’s “gramarye[s]” (275), or grimoires, “cannot be created or destroyed, only infused into a body or manipulated into a temporary mass” (276). This element is most effectively directed by Merlins, like Sel, who “are the Order’s sorcerers” (80) and part demon (part incubus, like Merlin).

There is a high cost to the Order’s Bloodcrafting: a lack of consent and shortened life spans. The descendants of the Knights of the Round Table, or Scions, “can’t opt out of their blood. And once Awakened, they feel this…this need. To fight. Directly from their knights” (145). Possession is not a choice but carried through bloodlines. Both Awakened Scions and their Oath-linked Squires suffer from Abatement: a drain of life that causes them to die in their 30s.

Bree is able to resist Bloodcraft magic, like mesmer and Oaths, through “pain” (72) and carrying a second blood-linked magic: Rootcraft. Deonn offers an author’s note clarifying that Rootcraft is inspired by “rootwork, also known as hoodoo or conjure” (496). Though the details of this spiritual practice are often orally passed down by practitioners, folklorist Harry Middleton Hyatt conducted a series of anthropological interviews titled “Hoodoo—conjuration—witchcraft—rootwork” that provide details about the art. More recently, and including more accurate information, books like Flash of the Spirit by Robert Ferris Thompson and Conjuring Culture by Theophus Smith explain the practices of rootwork: spirit possession, ancestor worship, healing, and protection.

At the heart of Rootcraft is a borrowing of “root”—their term for “aether”—rather than ownership of the magical element. Patricia tells Bree: “Rootcrafters—borrow root temporarily, because we believe energy is not for us to own” (223). Rootcraft focuses on summoning ancestors, rather than demons, and is used for “healing, protection, and self-knowledge. The same can be said for therapy” (315). There are many different styles of Rootcrafting; Bree’s mom did Wildcrafting, or working with plants, but Bree is a Medium.

As an heir of both kinds of magic, Bree is also an outcast from both systems. Her mom kept a low profile because she and Bree have “something else even more special inside us that only we know about, because other Rootcraft users wouldn’t like what we have” (389). This “special” part is Arthur, carried in their bloodline because of rape and slavery. The Order, as seen in its condonement of slave owning, is a deeply racist institution. However, despite her outsider status, Bree is the most powerful magic user in the world of Legendborn.


The trauma passed down through generations of Black people is another central theme of Legendborn. This trauma originated with chattel slavery and is perpetuated by organizations like the KKK and other modern institutions that attract white supremacists, like the police. Bree comments, “I don’t know if there’s a single Black person in this country who can say with 100 percent confidence that they feel safe with the police” (29), which is a reflection of sentiments circulating in more recent generations: the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, NWA’s “F*ck the Police” rap song in the 1980s, all the way to the Black Lives Matter Movement in the 2020s.

North Carolina and, more generally, the Southern United States, more profoundly carries the weight of slavery than abolitionist states. Bree thinks:

Growing up Black in the South, it’s pretty common to find yourself in old places that just…weren’t made for you. Maybe it’s a building, a historic district, or a street. Some space that was originally built for white people and white people only, and you just have to hold that knowledge while going about your business [...] You gain an awareness. Learn to hear the low buzzing sound of exclusion (75).

After slavery was abolished, segregation was still very present in the South and many monuments to slave owners and confederate soldiers exist even in the post-Civil Rights era. The location of Chapel Hill is significant for its physical reminders of enslavement and oppression that occurred across generations.

A significant repercussion of servitude is the breaking of families through selling individuals, yet in addition through assault. Many Individuals of color living in current America — like the person Bree — don't have the foggiest idea about their family history. While seeing the Request's Mass of Ages spreading out ages of white individuals, Bree accepts "somebody presumably needed to record everything, except who might have recorded my family's ancestry as far back as this? Who might have had the option to, been educated to, been permitted to? Where is our Wall?" (135). Slaves were not permitted to figure out how to peruse or set up to account their genealogies. The people who figured out how to pen accounts, as Harriet Jacobs, incorporate the way that lineages of subjugated families are confounded by aces assaulting the ladies on their estates.

The Request is an illustration of a well established organization that was capable — as a mysterious society — to hold Individuals of color back from becoming individuals and to conceal injury incurred for People of color. At the point when Davis seizes Bree to keep her from turning into an Assistant, he accepts "the defilement should be uncovered and rectified" (423), or in less metaphorical terms, that People of color should be rejected. The "debasement" is the miscegenation of his predecessor: an estate proprietor who assaulted Bree's progenitor Vera. Additionally, the Request has attaches with the police division and the College, supporting bigoted officials and directors. This addresses this present reality fundamental nature of bigotry, one that is implanted in designs of force and honor.


Legendborn opening with the death of Bree’s mother sets up the book as an examination of grief. Deonn states in her Author’s Note that Bree “suffers from acute traumatic grief, PTSD, and early symptoms of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (PCBD)” (495). Bree’s therapist Patricia notes that Bree’s “ghost” (315) is her mom’s life—not her mom’s death. The major symptoms of grief that Bree exhibits are the splintering of her identity into Before-Bree and After-Bree, as well as creating an emotional wall between herself and the world. She essentially hides behind her anger.

At first, Bree believes she can manage grief and trauma with retribution. She wants to punish the people responsible for her mother’s death, which seems to be a murder, because “acceptance is not possible for murder” (307). Bree feels disconnected from not only her mom, but also her entire maternal line: “death breaks our connection! [...] Death is not a thread. It is the sharp cut that severs us. Death separates us from one another, and yet it holds us close. As deeply as we hate it, it loves us more” (305). This foreshadows Bree’s powers as a Medium (someone intimately connected with death), but she is not emotionally ready to access these powers. Her wall and After-Bree keep her from accessing her Rootcraft.

When Bree is given data about her powers and the conditions of her mother's demise, she can handle her sorrow. To start with, Bree discovers that the Request followed yet didn't kill her mother. Then, her mom's appeal arm band delivers a memory about their supernatural powers to Bree. After these occasions, Bree can destroy her wall and bind together her character. This profound shift permits Bree to take advantage of her powers as a Medium and get additional responses from her predecessor Vera. Instead of looking for vengeance for homicide, a bound together, wall-less Bree can heed Faye's rehashed guidance: "Face challenges. Rely on your instinct. Also, push ahead" (417), as well as her father's recommendation: "Don't make your life about the misfortune. Make it about the adoration" (386). Bree choices from that point forward become about what her heart wants.


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