79 pages 2 hours read

Tracy Deonn


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2020

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Summary and Study Guide


Legendborn is a young adult urban fantasy novel by Tracy Deonn. It was published by Margaret K. McElderry books in September 2020 and is the first book in a trilogy of the same name. The book is set in North Carolina, mainly on the UNC Chapel Hill campus, and draws from the history of slavery and the Confederacy in that area. Deonn integrates elements from Black Girl Magic, Black spiritual traditions, and Arthurian legend. Legendborn is a New York Times Bestseller, won the Coretta Scott King — John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award, and was a finalist for a number of other awards.

Plot Summary

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 monster. Sel and a girl named Tor fight this creature after Sel mesmered (magically hypnotized) everyone but Bree, who is immune. The cops arrive and take Alice and Bree back to their dorm at Sel’s command.

Due to this, the Dean of Students says Bree and Alice must have peer mentors. Bree’s mentor Nick tracks her down and they encounter another magical creature, which hurts Bree as Nick kills it. He takes her to a house where she is healed by William and again mesmered by Sel.

The next morning, Bree resists Sel’s mesmer. With her memory intact, she identifies the Lodge of the Order of the Round Table. Bree goes to the Lodge and demands Nick help her unravel the mystery surrounding her mom’s death by sponsoring her to join the Order. Nick reluctantly accepts.

Bree joins a tournament to become a Squire and meets other candidates: some are kind to her and others make racist comments. The candidates take magical Oaths in the woods. Bree meets Nick’s dad, Davis, and learns Nick is the heir of the legendary Arthur. Sel is Nick’s Kingsmage: a Merlin. At the end of the ceremony, an Order member is Awakened (possessed) by a Knight and a hellhound attacks. Bree and Sel kill the hellhound; William heals injuries. William takes Bree to the Wall of Ages and explains the history and powers of the Order.

At the dorm, Bree argues with Alice; the next day Bree’s dad calls and says she has to go to therapy. Bree meets a therapist named Patricia who tells Bree her mom was a practitioner of Rootcraft—a matrilineal Black spiritual tradition.

Bree returns to the Lodge; Sel thinks Bree is a demon in disguise. In the first tournament event, Bree and her partner pass the first round. A demon attacks Nick, but Sel kills it. Bree visits Nick after William heals him and stays in Nick’s room. They don’t kiss until the next morning when he drops her off at her dorm.

Patricia meets Bree in the cemetery, and they go on a Rootcraft memory walk where Bree sees Patricia’s ancestor helping a woman who was whipped by a slave master, the birth of a crossroads child (part-demon), and a Gate—a portal for demons—being opened on campus. Bree runs to the Lodge to tell Nick about the Gate but can’t find him; she talks with William and learns Merlins are part-demon. Sel comes to the infirmary and argues with them.

Sel begins the next tournament trial—a riddle-scavenger hunt—and pairs himself with Bree. Hellfoxes attack them, eating Sel’s magic. They escape through a system of tunnels, but the hellfoxes are waiting outside. Bree and Sel kill them with magic. They meet with the Order and learn Tor has Awakened. Nick punches Sel and gets Bree healed before kissing her goodnight.

Patricia and Bree meet Mariah, who tries but fails to help Bree contact her ancestors. Back at the Lodge, Bree begins combat training. Patricia comes by Bree’s dorm and says she is ending their therapy sessions.

Bree finishes a week of combat training with Sel. She makes it through the combat trial with a couple wins in matches with practice weapons. She is knocked out by Vaughn after their match is called, and William heals her again.

Bree talks to an aether-drunk Sel. Sel takes Bree to his and Nick’s childhood home where they find a file about the Gate being opened. It contradicts what Sel was told about his mom and shows Bree’s mom was killed in a car crash while being monitored by the Order. Bree avoids the Order members—including Nick.

Bree’s dad gives her her mom’s bracelet which contains a memory about the powers of her maternal line: both Bloodcraft and Rootcraft. Bree attempts to contact her ancestors again. She becomes possessed by her grandmother, revealing that she is a Medium. Her grandmother says she’ll contact another ancestor who knows about Bloodcraft.

Bree goes to the Order’s Selection Gala. She dances with Sel, and Nick asks her to be his Squire. She accepts, enraging the Order. Bree sneaks a kiss with Nick before she is kidnapped by Davis’s Kingsmage, Isaac.

Davis makes racist and sexist comments and Isaac threatens Alice, so Bree leaves the Order. Bree is possessed by a different ancestor who helps her heal Alice. Bree reveals everything to Alice, and they agree to fight the Order together. They learn demons that are gathering in the center of campus where Excalibur is held. Bree goes through the tunnels with Fitz and Evan. Fitz is killed and Evan is revealed to be a demon in disguise. Bree knocks him into a ravine.

Bree’s ancestor Vera co-possesses her body and takes Bree on a memory walk. Bree learns one of the heirs of Arthur impregnated Vera while she was a slave, and thus transferred Arthur to their line. Arthur awakens in Bree, Rhaz reappears with more demons, and Bree/Arthur takes Excalibur out of 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.