Author: Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books
Released: January 21st, 2020
Warnings: Classism, burning to death
Ashlords is the first novel in a new duology by Scott Reintgen. Though I don’t yet know what the duology will end up being called (it’ll be interesting to find out though!). This is the same author that brought us the Nyxia Triad, so I knew that it was going to be well worth diving into!
Imagine a fantasy world in which phoenix horses exist. This is the world of the Ashlords, where the rich get everything they want, and everyone else has to scramble. Each year there is a race, but this is the race that will change it all.
Split into three main perspectives, this is a novel willing to take risks and show all sides of the political spectrum. We have The Alchemist – a talented girl who’s had to fight for everything. The hammer – a son raised to start a war. And the socialite – the girl who holds the weight of everyone’s expectations on her shoulders.
One quick note before we begin. Those three perspectives are actually an important feature, as the point of view writing style does change. This isn’t something you see every day, so I wanted to mention it here. Mainly I want to mention Pippa’s POV, which is all done in the second person. Feel however you want about that, but I felt it was worth the warning.
“We bowed to them so we would never have to bow to either of you. There’s a price in ruling this world. Always there has been a cost.”
Warnings: We’re talking about a racing competition involving flaming horses, so a lot of the warnings should be obvious. There is classism and at least one instance of a person burning to death. Though the latter is not as graphic as it could have been.
I’ve been excited for Ashlords ever since I caught my first glimpse of this cover, and honestly, can you blame me? It’s absolutely stunning. Between that and the phoenix horse concept, I was sold from the start.
That means this novel had a fair amount of expectation to live up to, as far as I’m concerned. For the most part, it did succeed in living up to my hopes, providing a thrilling tale worth reading. The intricate politics and character development was outstanding and ended up being some of my favorite parts of this story.
In some ways, this novel reminded me of The Hunger Games. The biggest differences being the flaming horses and the fact that the races weren’t supposed to kill each other. Take out those two elements, and these series had a lot in common. So odds are pretty good that if you’re a fan of one, you’ll enjoy the other as well.
If I’m being brutally honest, I can tell you what my biggest complaint about this book is. I didn’t enjoy reading Pippa’s side of things. Not because I didn’t like her story – I actually did, once I was able to get into it. The perspective was really jarring for me, especially when coming off a chapter that was written in the first person. It’s just not a great matchup, not for me, at any rate.
Other than that one complaint, I honestly really enjoyed this novel. I’m seriously looking forward to the next book in the series because I’m dying to find out what happens next. It sounds like the internal conflict for the country will be really ramping up – as certain characters had planned for. So I’m looking forward to the roles they play in that resolution. Or escalation, depending on how things go.