LEGACY OF ASH by Matthew Ward.
Orbit Books. h/b. £25.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
Otherwise known as the Phoenix of prophecy, Lady Katya, dowager duchess of Trelan, rides hard towards Eskavord’s gate where it lies open, her beloved children with her. Her husband is gone, perhaps her brother too. The phoenix banner has fallen. Sword held aloft, she is sighted. Bidding her children ride into the arms of her enemy, she turns on her kinsmen. The Tressian Council is truly against her now, her surrender demanded. Then there is Viktor Akadra. The Black Knight. Phoenix-slayer. Witch, if the rumours are true. Life for the Trelan’s will never be the same again.
Fifteen years since his parents’ deaths and his mother’s rebellion, Josiri is prisoner in his own home. His sister, Calenne, is soon to be wed for political advantage while Josiri himself, duke in title if not in deeds, waits, with only his friend – or demon as Calenne would put it – for company. Anastacia is feared and hated. Imprisoned just as firmly as Josiri himself. But to him she is far, far more than her mysterious words or appearance.
Legacy of Ash sports a much larger cast than this review can attempt to list, as you would expect from its plentiful 700+ pages. There are many hours of solid and exciting adventure packed into those pages and the investment is wholly worth it. Written with intelligence, Ward has managed to structure the narrative in a logical order that moves from character to character, place to place at just the right pace to keep the action ever moving forward while not losing the detail of individual motives and struggles.
In a unique world, on the now-demanded scale of modern epic fantasy, a conflict builds to a momentous clash that will please readers who like a good battle to settle scores and wipe out opponents. Viktor Akadra is the stand out character of the cast, given just the right balance of impatience and sense to carry his deeds – both good and bad – with conviction. This reader could have wanted for more insight into the council and its political machinations, but the setting aside of schemes for a well-sketched fight had no real downside as things turned out, and the way has been paved for an equally strong follow up.