Ashes of the Sun
Book One of Burningblade & Silvereye
by Django Wexler
Fantasy | 592 Pages | Published by Head of Zeus on 21st July 2020
| TL;DR |
This vibrant, rich and detailed novel tells the tale of two siblings on either side of an ages old war. As Maya, agathios of the Twilight Order, attempts to clear her mentor’s name and Gyre, Maya’s brother, searches for a powerful artefact to help him bring about the the Order’s destruction, their two intertwining narratives dramatically converge in this exciting and action-packed epic.
With strong characters, a unique magic system and a beautifully rendered landscape, Ashes of the Sun straddles the line between good and bad, right and wrong, and paints this broken empire in exquisite shades of grey.
| Synopsis |
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.
| Review |
The ages old war between the Chosen and the ghouls has obliterated the landscape and left it in ruins. Spearing from the earth and tunnelling under mountains, relics from the past are now home to the ever expanding towns and cities of man, and all that was left behind has either been salvaged, scavenged or stolen.
But more than one war continues in this shattered landscape. From the Forge, the Centarchs of the Twilight Order, powerful champions of the Chosen, are charged with keeping order and fight to eliminate dhakim – those who practice ghoul magic and use it to create the abominable plaguespawn. In the cities, the rebellion fight for freedom and against those who would suppress the tunnelborn, a subjugated people living on the outskirts of society, even if it means taking on the local militia, the Legions of the Dawn Republic, and the Twilight Order itself.
Born to one household but raised apart, Maya and Gyre find themselves on opposite sides of this insurmountable divide. Maya, an agathios – or novice – of the Twilight Order is gifted with a connection to the deiat, and wields the unimaginable power of Creation. Gyre, driven by this troubled past and his burning hatred for the Order, fights for the rebellion under the pseudonym Halfmask. As trouble brews across the realm, Maya and Gyre’s lives converge in an explosive and action packed tale where the line between good and evil are hopelessly blurred.
Told form two entirely different perspectives: one which champions discovery, order and the power of good and the other that champions vengeance, liberation and, ultimately, destruction; Ashes of the Sun pulls the reader into the midst of a conflict which questions the very nature of good and bad, right and wrong, for a non-stop, whirlwind of a tale. Narrated by two distinct voices and personalities, these two opposing viewpoints work together to paint a vivid picture of a world that, in reality, comprises shades of grey.
With ruined constructs, great metropolises and fallen skyships, this post-apocalyptic and fantastic vision unveils a colourful world with a unique and inventive magic system. The weight of history is woven into the landscape in the ages old struggle between the forces of chaos and order, and in the people and their struggle to survive under such deprivation. The divide between the rich and the poor, between the repressed and their suppressors, is depicted with a clear and direct vision which emphasises Maya’s naivety, her steadfast belief that the Order are solely good, and Gyre’s bitterness, that the world’s ills stem from the likes of the irredeemable Order.
From auxiliaries and legionaries to dogmatics and pragmatics, Wexler has created a strong foundation on which to build his series; the two tangled narratives threatening to derail plans, destroy hope and eliminate what little respect Maya and Gyre had for one another in the first place. This is a tale that thrives on its worldbuilding, that celebrates its diverse characters and that is all the better for its use of politics and intrigue throughout its plot.
Maya and Gyre are two siblings defined by their differing experiences and entirely disparate lives, with Maya’s comfort and innocence contrasting sharply with Gyre’s hardship, anger and resentment. With unique and memorable viewpoints, neither protagonist outdoes the other in either drama, suspense or action, with the endearing qualities of one complementing the bravado of the other.
Similarly, the supporting characters provide an interesting and diverse backdrop to the protagonists. Those of the Order – Bec, Tanax and Varo – show the complex hierarchy of the Order and their devotion to the Inheritance, and those of the rebellion – Yora, Lynnia and Harrow – show a driven and like-minded community who will fight for the rights of their people at almost any cost. Providing plenty of interest, intrigue and diversion throughout the narrative, these characters are only surpassed by the enigmatic and ultimately dangerous Kit Doomseeker who steals more than just the show.
Well written and highly-enjoyable throughout, this series opener succeeds in setting a perfect scene from which to read the remainder of the series. While there may be a lot of new terminology to absorb throughout the novel, the steady pace and the intricacies of the narrative give plenty of time to fully absorb the different terms – in between bouts of plaguespawn, skirmishes and bar fights, of course.
Ashes of the Sun is a well-written, exciting read that I barely put down over its six hundred pages. While I could have lived without many of the romantic aspects of the storyline, these remained only secondary to the narrative and didn’t inhibit my enjoyment of the story as a whole. With more fights, skirmishes and powerful artefacts than you can shake a stick at, the first in Burningblade & Silvereye promises the start of something quite special.
Thank you to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest review.