Hello all! Today I'm reviewing Of Fire and Ash by Gillian Bronte Adams. Happy release day! Let's get to it.
She rides a fireborn, a steed of fire and ash, trained for destruction.
Ceridwen tal Desmond dreams of ruling like her father over the nation of Soldonia, where warriors ride to battle on magical steeds—soaring on storm winds, vanishing in shadow, quaking the earth, and summoning the sea. After a tragic accident claims her twin brother, she is exiled and sworn to atonement by spending her life—or death—for her people.
But when invaders spill onto Soldonia’s shores and traitors seize upon the chaos to murder her father, Ceridwen claims the crown to keep the nation from splintering. Combatting overwhelming odds and looming civil war, she begins to wonder if the greatest threat to the kingdom may, in fact, be her.
With fire before her and ash in her wake, how can she hope to unite instead of destroy?
Flames rage and oceans rise in this explosive first installment of The Fireborn Epic as the exiled heir, a novice priest, and a reluctant rebel wage war against a hidden power that threatens to shake the world.
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Listen, I loveee a good fantasy. I also love a good epic fantasy. So let's see how this one measures up.
Covers that are artistic renderings are a hit or miss for me. They can come off amateurish or unpolished. I'm happy to report that this cover does not hit these negative qualities. I love the artistic depiction of Ceridwen atop her flaming steed. It fits the novel and its themes so well and the artist clearly knows what they are doing. This artistic rendering reminds me of more classic fantasy novels when illustrated covers were more than norm and that's definitely not a bad thing here. Lovely cover.
In an epic fantasy of this type, separating the characters from the story is not an easy thing, so I will do my best. The characters that make up the tapestry of the book are imperfect and well-constructed. The book follows three different characters and I actually enjoyed all of them. In fact, I was often hungry for more when a chapter would end only for me to get pulled into another character. Ceridwen's reckless ways, Rafi's joking cowardice, and Jakim's struggles with morality each made for some compelling storylines. There is a full cast to fill out side and minor characters too. One of my favorite has to be Finnian, Ceridwen's partner. No spoilers here, but he rides a shadow horse and is generally very cool. Some might struggle to keep up with all of the many characters, but that's par for the course when it comes to fantasy novels of this magnitude. Just do like I did and look back to find a character's first appearance if you can't remember who on earth they are--here's looking at you, Nold. Sorry about that.
Plot and Story
First of all, let me just say... this story is amazingly detailed. The world is expansive and each culture feels fleshed out and unique. Reading the different story lines set in such completely different parts of the story world is very interesting, as Adams delves into each different culture so completely. At the beginning of each chapter there is a small excerpt related to the different cultures and I found that such a nice and interesting touch. It was a unique way to give more insight into the different cultures without info dumping within the story itself. Without spoiling anything, the story of Of Fire and Ash deals with a lot of broken and struggling characters trying to find their future. The book is full of fantastic horses with amazing abilities. Some of them fly, some are water horses, some shadowers that can fade into shadow and smoke, and the main character's horse is a fireborn. He flames. There is a lot to these special horses but they really add to the story and it's a pretty unique path to take. The book deals with a LOT of heavy themes and there are a couple of very, very sad parts. However, hope is also present and that is the most beautiful element blazing forth. I finished the novel wanting book two very much. I'm curious to see how the stories of different characters will intertwine in the future.