Ashes of the Sun
- Author: Django Wexler
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: July 21, 2020
- Publisher: Orbit
- Series: Burningblade and Silvereye #1
Thank you to Orbit and Angela Man for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: violence, blood, gore, death, grief, terminal illness
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.
This is another series that I was really looking forward to getting into, and it was interesting immediately. Right from the start, the story pulled me in, and only got better the deeper I got into it. This was a fascinating start to a series, and I’m thrilled to have book 2 sitting on my shelf to jump right into as soon as I can.
The story centers around two siblings, who are on opposite sides of a conflict threatening their world. Maya was taken away from her home when she was very young, to become part of the elite Twilight Order. They are a group who is trained to wield magical powers and become centarchs, tasked with maintaining law and order across their empire. Her older brother Gyre views the Twilight Order as the enemy for tearing apart his family and oppressing the people of the empire, and has devoted his life to bringing the Order down:
“The Twilight Order destroyed my family. My whole life, I’ve searched for a way to destroy them in turn. But they have to power of the Chosen, and they leave the rest of us nothing.”
While the story is told through these two opposing POVs, converging as they cross paths (obviously), the Empire itself almost forms a unique character. It’s a complicated place, crossing various regions with different political and underground networks, but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re all under the heel of the Twilight Order. Naturally, anything run by humans isn’t always upstanding, and corruption can occur anywhere, and the Twilight Order isn’t any different, with warring factions within the Order.
The story builds up a complex and well-created world, which provides information as well go. While avoiding info dumps, Wexler provides information as it is needed and I never felt lost or overwhelmed, as is easy to do in this type of world building. There’s also an extensive glossary to help readers understand all of the information provided.
However, the real strength of the story is in the characters. Each of the characters is richly developed and forms intricate relationships with other characters in their network. The emotional development of the characters and the moral dilemmas that are presented kept me intrigued throughout the story, because I knew that it would appear as Gyre and Maya’s stories intersected. In addition, there’s a slow-burn sapphic romance that develops in Maya’s timeline, while Gyre develops not quite a romance but a connection with a female character, making both of their characters more nuanced.
There’s a lot of depth to the story, but there’s also a lot of conflict and action. I loved how the magic, both legal and illegal, worked in this story, and the way they were connected to the history of this region. In the author’s note, he mentions that it was inspired by Star Wars, which I sheepishly admit that I’m not familiar with at all, but have definitely become more curious about after reading this. And I’m definitely looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy, the last of which is expected to be released next year.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 20
Categories: Book Review