Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy
Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.
Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.
Django Wexler really shows off his writing chops with Ashes of the Sun. The characters are deep, the world building is really intriguing, and the storyline is full of tension and fun literary tropes which kept me reading put me in a place where I did not want to put the book down.
The story follows two main characters, and guess what… THEY ARE BROTHER AND SISTER SEPARATED WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG. Love this trope, which is most often seen in YA-type novels. (Ashes of the Sun does not quite read as YA to me and is not labeled as such, but I would not argue with you if you told me it was.) What makes this narrative even more intriguing is the fact that each sibling is on the other side of a political rivalry: Maya works for The Twilight Order, and Gyre is part of the rebellion. The rebellion exists to destroy The Twilight Order for their oppressive tactics. When circumstances place Gyre and Maya face-to-face each has a choice to make: fealty to the cause or loyalty to family. With everything the two experience in this book, they become really emotionally deep characters.
The supporting characters are great, too. There is a slow-burn F/F romance, and a not as slow M/F relationship for which I hesitate to use the word “romance”. There are ghouls, and humans that are loyal to both Gyre and Maya. Some are instigators and some are stabilizing characters. It is a diverse character set, which makes for a fun book.
This type of story line keeps my interest because of its depth; really, there are three separate narratives to follow. Gyre and Maya each have their own separate arc, and there is the overall story of the ongoing war between the two sides. Often these three storylines collide and the result is epic. This is where the tension comes from, and tension creates intrigue. As a reader, I just always wanted to keep reading because there was always a feeling of what is going to happen next?
There is so much history in this book that also contributes to this feeling, as well, and the world building really speaks to that point. The ongoing war is comprised of humans and ghouls (with some humans on the ghouls’ side, as well), but there is also a group called The Chosen that used to be part of this war. The Chosen were wiped out a long time ago, but passed their magical artifacts on to humans along with a set of instructions about how to govern. I love the history, and how relevant it is to the current storyline. Again, this setup makes the book even deeper.
The magic in the book is really cool, also. Members of The Twilight Order are able to conjure magic (which they call deiat) through magical artifacts that are basically hilts of swords. It comes in a different form for each person (Maya’s takes the form of fire, for instance), and I almost get the picture of a Star Wars light saber. One big difference is that the magic does not stay in sword form, as the user can extend it and bend it into pretty much any shape they want and even shoot it it out. It makes for really awesome battles, especially against the ghouls who have a lot of crazy technology they use to fight.
All in, Ashes of the Sun is a really good read. The storyline is full of tension and intrigue, the world building is really neat, it has fun and diverse character set, and the magic is cool. I definitely recommend this book for fans of fantasy.