In an all-new story that blew me away in every good way, author Jen Calonita introduces us to the early days of Flynn Rider – or, as fans fondly know him, Eugene Fitzherbert – from Disney’s Tangled.

In Lost Legends: The Rise of Flynn Rider, readers meet a young Eugene and this young Eugene needs a plan. He loves Miss Clare and the boys at the orphanage, but he's not a little kid anymore. He can't spend the rest of his days getting into mischief and acting out his favorite passages from the Flynnigan Rider novels. In his imagination, he is that daring rogue Flynn Rider, and his best friend, Arnie, is famous thief Lance Strongbow, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Even though Eugene knows it's just a fun game, he can't help but wish there was more for him out there. Travel. Riches. And maybe, just maybe, his parents.

When a traveling circus comes to the kingdom promising a life of excitement, brotherhood, and unimaginable treasure, Eugene and Arnie see it as the start of their great adventure. But it soon becomes clear that there's more to this ragtag crew than meets the eye, and it'll take new heroes—namely, Flynn Rider and Lance Strongbow—to save the day.

There is so much to love about this book. In fact, it is my very favorite book that I have read by the talented Jen Calonita to date. It is an epic adventure story of regular kids with big dreams. Almost all readers can relate to that. There are also many fun quirks along the way. Not only do Eugene and Arnie act out their favorite passages from the Flynnigan Rider novels, but each chapter also begins with a Flynnigan Rider quote from one of his many adventures (for example, “The world is my oyster. Good thing I’m not allergic to shellfish.” – Flynnigan Rider in Flynnigan Rider and The Secret to Calypso Cove; and “Sticky situations call for sticky solutions.” Flynnigan Rider in Flynnigan Rider and The Hunt for the Red Pearl.) This was such a great strategy for further immersing readers into Flynn’s sense of fun, his personality and his mindset as Eugene seeks to embody him at almost every turn. (It also made me want to read all the Flynnigan Rider novels!)

The author cleverly incorporates lots of references to the Tangled storyline without detracting from Flynn’s own exciting tale. These references are more like bonus features, so despite Flynn’s story being a prequel to the popular Disney film, Calonita’s book charts its own course. For example, at one point in the story, as a young boy, Eugene stumbles upon Rapunzel’s tower. Up until this point in the book, I had more or less forgotten all about the lost princess because I was engrossed in shenanigans had by Eugene/Flynn and Arnie/Lance. Given the fast-paced fun therein, readers are immersed in this story – not awaiting Rapunzel’s.

Another thrilling addition is the development of Tangled’s Snuggly Duckling thugs. Hook Hand, Big Nose, Attila, Vlad, Ulf and Shorty play a much larger role in The Rise of Flynn Rider than in Tangled, so fans get to know them beyond the high energy “I have a dream” number in the film. The Stabbington Brothers (Gothel’s two henchmen in Tangled) are also thrown into the mix, and the beginnings of their turbulent relationship with Flynn are uncovered.

Above and beyond Tangled, Lost Legends: The Rise of Flynn Rider works wonders in developing Flynn’s character. While he is still the loveable, silly rogue we know from the film, Calonita molds him into a relatable, and sometimes insecure, young man. She does this by fleshing out tidbits from the film – like Flynn’s concern about his appearance and the story of his first nose break (those WANTED posters make some comic appearances here too) amid his adventure. Readers also learn about Flynn’s dreams, fears, and his deeply personal desire to be reunited with his parents. There is much more to this guy than just “the smolder”.

From the orphanage, to the circus, to Corona castle, there is never a dull moment in this book. The story, continuity and characters are thrilling throughout which makes Lost Legends: The Rise of Flynn Rider just so much fun. It stands alone as its own great whimsical tale and sets the bar high for Lost Legends novels to follow.

Lost Legends: The Rise of Flynn Rider is the first novel in the new Lost Legends series. Each book will focus on a different young Disney rogue. The Rise of Flynn Rider is set to be released on September 21, 2021.