Annie, who was a serf and who's parents were murdered by the previous rulers (/tyrants).
Lee, who is the son of one of the higher ups in the old regime. He's now "working for" the new regime, but has a constant internal battle with himself because the new regime murdered his family, but he's also starting to realize that maybe his family actually did some bad stuff.
Oh, and Lee's dad killed Annie's parents. Oop. Awkward friendship.
I think Lee's battle with picking a side was the best part. On the one hand, he remembers his family fondly, because although they may have been bad people they were always kind to him and he was just a kid. On the other hand, he realizes his family actually did awful stuff and maybe he should forget them and join the new regime. But on the OTHER hand, the new regime starts doing some sketchy stuff too. Suddenly it's like neither side is that great?
The story is just so INTERESTING!! And on top of that, we also have Annie's anxiety, her struggle to realize that YES SHE'S GOOD ENOUGH! (she's actually great), and dragon riding!
I think this author's explanation of her inspiration from the book is a pretty good idea of what it's all about:
"Later, working in Paris, I wandered streets whose legacy from the French Revolution was written in defaced tombs and unmarked sites of guillotines, and I knew I wanted to write about revolution. Not about the beginnings of one--the bloody aftermath. So many beautiful YA novels have been about kids starting a revolution, but I wanted to explore the other side of it. I wanted to write about kids who had to pick up the pieces afterwards. And I wanted to inverse a closely related trope. Deposed and orphaned aristocrats seeking vengeance we have seen before--and love. But I wanted to push that further. I wanted to imagine an orphaned aristocrat who has every reason to seek revenge, until he realizes that maybe, his family did wrong, too.
And then what pulled it all together was Plato's Republic, which I studied a bit in college. I was captivated by its dystopian/utopian approach to propaganda and meritocracy. What would a society look like that granted political power unequally according to intelligence, rather than unequally according to birthright? And--even more intriguingly--what would that look like in a society where rulers ride dragons? What if a revolution transformed hereditary dragonriding into a test-based selection process?
That's where Lee and Annie's stories start. An aristocrat in hiding and a former serf who meet in the orphanage, test side by side into their new regime's dragonriding program, and have to decide if they really can leave the past behind them--and if the new regime really is better than what came before. "
From here: https://www.goodreads.com/questions/1415435-what-inspired-you-to-write-this-particular
In short, this book was an absolute pleasure to read. Every word was worth something and it got me thinking a lot. I can't wait for more!