By: Holly Rose
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Red Spark Press
With a strong female protagonist, Reyna Ashbourne, Ashes of Aether is wonderful addition to YA fantasy. The action starts from page one and doesn’t let up until the last page. The story takes place in the world of Imyria, in the city of Nolderan. Even at 18, Reyna goes through what many children of important parents do, how can they live up to their standards? Her father is the Grandmage of Nolderan, the most powerful mage in Imyria. While Reyna trains to become a mage, she doesn’t focus as much on her studies as her father would like. As a fan of the fantasy genre, I am always impressed with characters that are not perfect. I think Ms. Rose captures the angst and uncertainty that Reyna has. Simply because her father is powerful, it does not make her powerful. As I was reading, I often felt Reyna may have wanted a different life, but she posseses magic. Not everyone in Imyria does, so she trains to be mage. Perhaps 1/3 of the way into the book, I can only say without giving away spoilers, is that Nolderan is attacked. Having this scene fairly early in the book sets Reyna on a different path. It is also a scene one might expect at the climax of a book, but this was brilliantly done to motivate Reyna. It is from this attack on her city and loved ones, that we see Reyna blossom from the uncertain skills she has, to become a mage and protect what is left.
Summary (from Goodreads)
Loving a necromancer’s son comes at a perilous price…
As the daughter of Nolderan’s most powerful mage, Reyna Ashbourne has only ever faced two obstacles: her father’s wrath for slacking with her magic studies, and being shunned by many for loving Arluin, a necromancer’s son.
But Reyna’s life takes a bitter turn when Arluin’s exiled father returns to wreak his vengeance upon the city. With the living dead plaguing the streets, the boy she loves is forced to choose between his heart and his blood.
When those dearest to her perish, Reyna vows to become as mighty as her father. However, the path of the magi is no easy one, and she must first complete her Mage Trials to prove she has the required strength of heart, mind, and magic.
Yet the shadows of the past rise once again, threatening to tear Nolderan asunder.
And so too her heart.
The World and Magic System
Nolderan is a city in the world of Imyria. This installment takes place entirely in Nolderan. It is, I would say, a fairly typical city. What sets it apart in the Arcanium, the school where mages are trained. In addition, Aether is where those who possess magic comes from. It is in their blood and many of their spells use Aether. Other spells they must master involve the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. The fact that a spell using Aether cannot counter an elemental spell was interesting twist in magic. It is the Aether Tower in Nolderan that powers spells in the city, for example, the gates of Reyna’s house which only open to those whose voice it has been commanded. The world building and magic were very good, but I felt the magic system was quite unique.
Reyna Ashbourne: As the daughter of the Grandmage of Nolderan, great things are expected of Reyna. She knows it and when she does not study hard enough and fails to be as powerful as her father, she feels guilty and somewhat angry. To be the child of those of greatness can be much to bear if there is failure.
Reyna is, however, a strong female character. She has the traits of an 18-year-old; not studying hard enough, a little resentment of what people expect of her and wanting to be with her friends and boyfriend. She is in love with Arulin, the son of an exiled necromancer who Reyna will never believe would practice dark arts.
When Nolderan is attacked, her city and those she loves, it is at this point Reyna steps up to become a powerful mage. Never wanting to see this happen again, it is her vow to protect those she loves. Everything does come with a price, and the price Reyna will pay is a twist I did not see coming.
Eliya: Eliya is Reyna’s best friend. She is everyone’s best friend. The person who will be there for you when you need them. The friend that picks you up when you are feeling down. The person that cheers you on when you don’t think you possible can. In making Eliya have all of these traits, it was easy to relate to her and care about her.
Arluin: Arluin is Reyna’s boyfriend and the son of the exiled necromancer, Heston. It is clear he loves Reyna, and on her 18th birthday, gives her a locket. A locket with a memory they make to marry once she has graduated the Arcanium. Arluin is a complex character. He battles internally trying to reconcile the dark magic his father did with why he did it. Arluin’s father was trying to bring his deceased mother back. Necromancy is dark magic and forbidden, hence the banishment of Heston. However, he is still his father. How strong is that bond?
I enjoyed the Ashes of Aether and I think YA fanstasy fans will certainly enjoy it as well. It’s wonderful to have a strong female protagonist, yet one who struggles as well. Reyna, Eliya and Arluin have a chemistry that complements each other very well. They are relatable characters and I feel that especially in YA fantasy, that relatability is very important to the young reader. The magic system is unique and well-developed. The timing of the attack on Nolderan was a perfect plot point to drive Reyna to become what she truly was meant to be – a powerful mage. I highly recommend the Ashes Aether.
My thanks to Holly Rose for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
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