Synopsis and Details:
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?
Series: Ashlords #1 | Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian | Release Date: January 21, 2020 | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers | Pages: 368 | ISBN: 978-0593119174 | ASIN: B07T1V2TCW | Format: ARC | Source: Netgalley
Review with Rating:
This book caught my eye because, honestly, any book that is compared to Scorpio Races is going to be one that I just have to read. I loved that story! Luckily, Ashlords did not disappoint. It was an imaginative fantasy and I loved the inclusion of the phoenix horses. I also appreciated that the alchemy involved with the resurrections of the horses was complicated and at the same time fallible. It made every resurrection a bit of a nail biter because there was never any guarantee that things were going to go right for the rider. In addition to a fierce competition, Ashlords was also about an empire that was on the cusp of a revolution, filled with corruption, and had an underworld filled with blood and fire.
There are three main competitors in this story: Imelda Beru – a Dividian, Adrian Ford – a Longhand cowboy, and Pippa – an Ashlord. They come from three different walks of life and the story is told through their alternating viewpoints. There is much riding on this competition for these riders and it is more than the simple desire to win. The competition itself is brutal and it is every rider for themselves. Alliances are made and alliances are broken. There are some rules and the entire competition is monitored, except for certain areas, but there is a lot of room for bringing other competitors low. The race is available to watch for anyone outside of the competitors, so they want to be entertained, and seeing a rider fail or encounter challenges gives a better viewing experience. You can imagine how intense this competition can get. It is one wild ride for the reader.
Ashlords is a wonderful reading experience with an imaginative world that really grabbed my interest, although it took a little time for me to fully immerse myself in. What initially threw me off was that this is a fantasy world with gods, spirits, and alchemy but they have their version of YouTube? I was not expecting that. They also have wristlets that keep the riders appraised of standings, hmmmm, this is a fantasy world but it shares much with our contemporary world and that took some getting used to. I was expecting a 100% fantasy setting not a dystopian blend. I am not saying that it was bad, just a bit of a surprise. Also, the voices of the characters are voiced differently, first, second, and third person, an unusual choice in my mind. Overall, Ashlords was a story that kept me on the edge of my seat. The pacing was fast and the ending will have you eagerly anticipating the sequel!
*Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers & NetGalley for this eARC of Ashlords*
This review is based on a complimentary book I received. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.