Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they’ve raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That’s all legal and encouraged.
In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?
Let’s start off with a huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for granting my wish for this book. I was provided an eARC of Ashlords in exchange for an honest review.
Honestly, all I needed to know about this book was ‘Phoenix Horses’ and I was all in. I was hooked right from the start. We follow three characters, a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Imelda Beru is our scholarship winner. She’s also known as The Alchemist. I loved her. She saw through the ruse that is the scholarship for Dividians. She was my favorite of the three characters. The other two focused on their goal of winning the race but Imelda has different priorities. I think the next book is going to be even better for her storyline.
Next is Adrian. The Longhand. He’s the son of a prominent leader and has come to win the races. I liked that he was dedicated to his family, but was even more interested when that dedication wavered. I wish that had been explored more. I loved his confidence and his kind heart. I have a feeling that he and Imelda are going to meet in the next book and I am more than here for it.
Finally, Pippa. Her chapters were interesting. They’re written in the second person, but also clearly about Pippa and not the reader. They still had her personality. I thought this was a really interesting way for Pippa to tell her story. I liked her, she was the child of two previous race winners and planned to become one herself. She doesn’t depend on her parent’s success though. She works hard and that work shows. She is the best and has proven it time and time again. The only part I didn’t like about Pippa was her dreams about Bravos. She focuses on boys instead of winning and that was her first mistake.
The world was incredible. The politics and drama was very interesting. I liked all the different dynamics. But the Ashlord Gods were the most compelling of all. I wish they had been a bigger part of the story. They have the potential to really shake things up and they did a bit of shaking in this book. I’m dying to know more about them and the history of this world.
Overall, this story was incredible. I absolutely adored and will be silently dying inside while I wait for the next book that isn’t even written yet because Ashlords hasn’t even been released yet.
“Afraid of the dark? The dark is all I’ve ever known.”
“The war we start will cost everything. The world will burn. We have to be brave enough to put the torch to it.”
“Their need to be first place is a weakness. Their desire for you—or your mother—to be less so that they look like more is a weakness. You realize they’re afraid of you.”
“Ashlords are not superior to us. They’re not faster or stronger or wise. All they have that we do not is the gods. And that can change. Morning comes and revolution is on its heels.”
“They forget that dark clouds and strong winds only mean lightning’s about to strike. You know they’ll want back in when you’re illuminating the whole damn sky, but you will not forget and you will not forgive.”
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.