Ashes of the Sun – Burningblade & Silvereye Book I, Django Wexler.
Head of Zeus, 527pp, HB £20.
Reviewed By Steve Dean
Long ago, it says in the blurb, a magical war destroyed the Chosen Empire, and a new republic rose from its ashes. It doesn’t say how long ago but it seems some people are still holding a grudge.
This world, like so many, is divided into the haves and have-nots. Maya and her brother, Gyre are two of the latter, growing up on a poor farm barely making a living. They’re very close, doing everything together. One day a centarch, basically a magic-wielding knight, arrives at the farm and tells the family Maya has magical abilities, and she’ll die if he doesn’t take her into the care of the Twilight Order. Gyre attacks the centarch and loses an eye when the centarch retaliates.
Years later, Maya is training to be a centarch herself, and Gyre has taken to a life of crime. Against a background of looming civil war and other political goings-on, the two once-close siblings find themselves on opposite sides. Of course, things aren’t as they seem, and the pair find themselves as pawns in a greater game as other players emerge.
Anyone who’s ever read a book will know the brother and sister will end up on opposite sides, and the author makes no secret of this right from the start. It works well in this case, as it changes the dynamic of the plot. When they do finally meet, the author handles it very well, and it doesn’t go as most people would expect.
The characters are all well-drawn and mostly likeable. There are few good and evil characters, just people looking out for themselves and their kin. Those on each side think they’re right, of course, and work towards their own goals. There are some minor characters we don’t get to know very well, but this is to be expected as there are many them.
The world itself is well imagined, believable and has the weight of a long history. Unlike many dystopias, I did think this one would work in reality, at least for a while. The magic system is also well-thought-out and works consistently, at least most of the time. Some things, about the world and the magic, are left unexplained, but I presume these will be revealed as the series continues.
In conclusion, this is a competent book with good characters, good world-building and a suitable magic system. I’ll certainly be adding the next volume to my wish list.