A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.
Ruling families — once protectors of justice and democracy — now plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives. Blinded by ambition, they remain heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.
Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.
Viktor Akadra is the Republic’s champion. A warrior without equal, he hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic.
Josiri Trelan is Viktor’s sworn enemy. A political prisoner, he dreams of reigniting his mother’s failed rebellion.
And yet Calenne Trelan, Josiri’s sister, seeks only to break free of their tarnished legacy; to escape the expectation and prejudice that haunts the family name.
As war spreads across the Republic, these three must set aside their differences in order to save their home. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. And victory — if it comes at all — will demand a darker price than any of them could have imagined.
Legacy of Ash is the epitome of epic fantasy. Told from multiple perspectives, the story is complex, the world building rich and steeped in a deep history. It has magic, and deities, and a whole lot of intrigue. As a reader, one cannot ask for much more out of an epic fantasy novel. This is true epic fantasy down to the core.
That is not to say it is familiar in any way; in fact, the opposite is true. Legacy of Ash is one of the most unique stories I have ever read. And it is action-packed. As I was reading it, I had a picture in my mind of a world where war is constantly being fought. The Tressian Empire is a powder-keg, waiting to explode at the next spark. Matthew Ward delivers on that, sparking this story early and often. It is non-stop action from cover to cover, so much so that at times I could see my reading speed up, and I found myself flying through parts of the book.
There are A LOT of characters to follow, and, depending on your viewpoint, brings both positive and negative impacts to the story. For me, this is mostly a positive – if done right. The story is told from so many different perspectives the reader does not have the time to get bored with one character, as it is constantly switching before one has time to get comfortable. And that is a good way to put it: I never felt “comfortable” in this story. I mean that in a good way. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, be it due to the different perspectives, the pace of the writing, the tension and intrigue, or even the characters’ storylines themselves. Reading this book, I was constantly leaning forward, breathing fast, heart thumping a mile-a-minute… wondering how it is all going to end.
Someone asked me who my favorite character was, and it was definitely Viktor. His story arc is so deep and dark; there is a ton of mystery there. And he leads much of the action, as so much of the story revolves around his decision-making. He is also the proverbial Vegeta of this book: bad guy or good guy? Hero or villian? I spent a lot of headspace reading this story wondering what Viktor’s true intent was. You will have to read to find out how that turns out, but the point is I was never comfortable with him, in a good way. In a story full of tension and intrigue that leads to so much action, Viktor is the dynamo that connects many of those dots.
For me, the one drawback to the way the characters were written was that it felt to me as though the author was trying to give equal face time to all of the characters, and I am not sure that worked as well as hoped. There are characters that just are not as interesting or as impactful, and I would have preferred to explore some of the more “main” characters a little more in depth. Every single character is important to the story, but I could have done with glimpses of some and more background and storytelling for others. Calenne, for example, would be one character whose story I would like to have explored more deeply.
Overall, Legacy of Ash is a really good book. It is epic fantasy at its highest, and I found it quite difficult to put down. I recommend for all fantasy readers everywhere.