King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist – Review

I wasn’t supposed to read this book yet.

It wasn’t very high on my TBR list – but one night I went to bed and realised my kindle had no charge and that I had left my paperback (Deadhouse Gates) downstairs.

This was one of the books on my bedside table, and the author’s name caught my eye. I hadn’t really heard much about this new saga, but having read Magician (from the very famous Riftwar Saga) years ago, I knew that I was in safe author-ly hands. I expected to read a chapter that night before I fell asleep and then to park the book until I finished Deadhouse Gates.

But then I started it.

And I couldn’t put it down.

This story starts with the downfall of Ithrace, one of the five kingdoms of Garn – which has now become four.

The Firemane royal family are caught and executed once the battle ends, however, the youngest son, only a baby, is rescued and given to an old friend of the now-dead Firemane King.

And this is how our adventure begins. We have a child growing up as an orphan in a island of assassins, a girl assassin who has an uncertain future, a king who is using a new religion to cement his power, a baron who believes a new war is coming, and a young blacksmith looking to find a home and wife.

Game of Thrones would be an easy comparison – and yet it is very different. Our main characters, Hava, Hatu, and Declan are young and don’t (for the most part) understand who they really are or know much of the world around them. We have an occasional POV chapter from Baron Daylon Dumarch, but in general we have no Ned or Catelyn Stark to help us navigate the politics of this new world.

And yet – despite the young characters, I would not bench this novel as YA either. I think the author is merely showing us the world in a more organic way. The chapters from Baron Daylon help us to understand what is happening and why, but it doesn’t take precedence over the world building and characterisation.

This is a fantasy, but the magical elements only start to show in the second half of the book. This is fine – the character building comes first. By the time we first come across a magical people using a horrible type of blood magic, we know all the characters very well, how they’ve been raised, and the culture they live in. This grounded the story. The pace is slow for those who prefer a plot driven story, but it was just right for me.

All the ground work has been done for a fantastic book two. Secrets have been revealed and the magical aspects of the story are growing. There is more than one antagonist that our characters need to escape or hide from, and more than one person is eyeing the ruins of Ithrace and wanting to increase their power.

This is a great read. Raymond E. Feist is a master storyteller. He really made the forge scenes so interesting, found a way to write about teenage infatuation without it being angsty (a pet peeve of mine), and has put in place plenty of conflict for the sequel.

This was a great story – an easy read – and I finished it very quickly. I would definitely recommend and I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Queen of Storms.

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