Review: Legacy of Ash (#1) by Matthew Ward

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Rating: 10/10


A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.

Ruling families plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives, heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.

The Republic faces its darkest hour. Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.

Game of Thrones meets the Last Kingdom in Matthew Ward’s Legacy of Ash – an unmissable epic fantasy debut of vicious intrigue, ancient magic and the eternal clash of empires.

‘Incredible action scenes’ Fantasy Hive

‘Magnificent and epic’ Grimdark magazine

‘Rivals Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance. It’s really good’ Engadget


I have finished this whopping book of 768 pages. 700 PAGES! That’s how big, that’s how epic, that’s how well written this novel is. What a FANTASTIC READ! 10/10 from me already. This review contains minor spoilers.

This is one of the most impressive fantasy debuts I have ever seen. There are great fantasy authors out there that write terrific books on this scale and magnitude. Ones that come to my mind are Christian Cameron, Mike Shackle and Nick Martell. Matthew joins the ranks of Gywne, Anthony Ryan, Brandon Sanderson and Micheal J Sullivan. That’s how good this book is. The world-building is epic.

Some of the dialogue I loved:

”Liquor has no claim on my wits.”

”I’m not carrying a dagger, I’m a councilman visiting a prisoner.”

”I’m a man of many aspirations. I can always make room for another.”

To summarise, there’s a lot of details: About how a Duke humiliates a Tressian Archimandrite by giving his trusted friend, Revakh to do the job. There’s details of cataphracts and golden immortals fighting medieval knights and I was so impressed. Finally someone took the Sassanid and Persian Achemanid Empire as inspiration. Malachi turned out to be one of the most impressive characters in the book, being the good and noble diplomat that wishes he could get out of this murky entrail of politics. Malachi’s children are also great as well his as wife, Lilly is. Ebigail was the worst character ever. She had spun a web, a dark web that was the cause of many misfortunes. All I can say is…bah! And there have been no shortage of evil people like her in history.

Fantastic Description:

”Where the black stone of the ancient city surrendered to granite colonnades of repurposed streets, he detoured into the unprocessing chambers that bore the antlered crest of the Satanra family.”

And so much of this is rooted from history, I could no doubt get a sense of Byzantine Politics, or maybe even a hint of the messy situtation Italy was in during the 11th century, when the Italian city states fought against each other. The Parliament of Crows is one of those impressive tiny details that you MUST not miss out on. It’ll pay off. And Kasamor…may his legacy last in the echoes forever. May Lumestra bless him always. This is way more historical fantasy that seems similar to Guy Gavriel Kay. All of this fight…all of this…it just saddens me.

I too like reading historical fiction, but there comes a point when you think: What was the worth of it? What was the worth of the Crusades when it lead to Byzantium’s collapse? The Crusades didn’t achieve much in terms of stragetic goals, and it led directly to the Ottomans coming and ruling parts of eastern Europe for a very long time or so. Now apply this to the Hadari Empire being split among warring nobles, and Kai Saran looking to cement his rule against the Tressians. Now what historical comparison can you draw with that? Many!

What does it bubble down too? What’s the main goal? For a mere goal in the Council of Tressia, nobles manipulate each other so that they can preserve their power. That’s pretty much what most of human history is. But it does not let us forget that that in this time, heroes are forged. Epic battles across vast distant landscapes are fought. People die. And their history is written by the victor. Not the loser. Who are we, that as human beings, to have been so blessed that we can share such stories across the ages? What is the light? What is the dark? And what are we? Good and noble beings? Or evil and cruel? Do we not create the monsters of our own fears? These questions now make me ponder after having read this book.

Hats off to the cover designer, Larry Rostant because he DID an AMAZING job that no wonder the cover feels exactly what the novel is about. Out of the ashes, an new empire is born. An empire of thought? An confederacy of republics? And Viktor Akadra? This man is the DEFINITIVE EDITION of an anti-hero. One of the best examples of taking his regrets, and making them to use it as a driving motivation. A man that has commited the most heinous of crimes. Just read. You’ll see a man that will become a legendary warrior. A broken man, that has transformed himself due to his sheer will. Which, no matter what life threw at him, no matter what happened, he fought on. It was his sheer determination, his sheer wit, and his courage that made him become what he was meant to become. And Josiri Trelan? A youngling that had no confidence within himself became a man with clarity and clear thought at the end of all this drama. There is so much drama, so much political intrigue not to meantion the cast of characters. I liked Melanna and felt she needs an entire book of her own, or more scenes of her. I think we’ll see more of her in book 2.

Revakh was an awesome character, simply one of the best. Add Kurkas. He’s a delight! Watch out for him. He’s a very great character. Rosa was a good character, including Calenne, Josiri’s sister. At the end, I think she figures out what she wants. What she’s been running away from her whole life. The Hadari are a really powerful empire and I seriously want a novel on that. I would love to see way more of the Hadari. And kudos to Matthew adding cataphracts! And Golden Immortals! I believe they are inspired from the Persian Immortals. As a minor request, I would love to see this as an Age of Empires II Custom Campaign, a Netflix/Amazon TV show because this show has everything. At this point I’m going to be listing everything. So read this AMAZING book for yourself. I read this and man it took me 10 hours, but that 10 hours of your life is going to be so worth it. Can’t wait for book 2!

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