Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders–skilled at alchemy–who must compete at The Races–the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.
Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they’ve raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That’s all legal and encouraged.
In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?
With comp titles like Red Rising and The Scorpio Races, combined with a stunning cover and intriguing description, I jumped at the invitation to read and review Ashlords. Being a fan of Reintgen’s Nyxia Triad series, I anticipated an exciting read, but this? Completely above and beyond my expectations.
Phoenix horses – what an outstanding concept. Toss in alchemy, a Hunger Games-ish race, gods, spirits, a brewing war, and you’ve got an addictive read. I have to admit, the world-building overwhelmed me a bit at first, but I settled in by the second chapter.
And the characters! Three POVs: Imelda – a talented alchemist and underdog, Adrian – probably the biggest threat to the Ashlords and the face of the rebellion, and Pippa – the daughter of two champions and favorite to win. Pippa’s POV is in second person, something I haven’t come across in YA fiction. You may start out rooting for one, but will likely change your mind more than once before it’s over. Don’t underestimate any of them.
There’s more than the race going on in this novel. With war, rebellion, and unrest stirring, the next book in this duology promises to be just as compelling. From nearly the first page, this action-packed, intense plot races (almost literally) to the finish. I can’t wait for the next book – bring on the next rebirth!
This book is scheduled for publication January 21, 2020. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.