Title: Of Fire and Ash
Series: The Fireborn Epic
Author: Gillian Bronte Adams
Genre: YA Fantasy, Christian Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
Overview: 462 pages. Wow. That’s a lot of pages, y’all. I’m guessing that’s about… 125,000 words? Wow. I am amazed at how good this gloriously long book was. I wasn’t sure about it at first; the cover looked awesome, but I’d never heard of the author before, and book money can be hard to come by. But at last, I caved and bought it. And I enjoyed every one of those 462 pages.
Characters: All three of the POV characters are so well crafted! Ceridwen reminded me of Éowyn from Lord of the Rings—an even feistier, more dramatic Éowyn who rides a fire-breathing horse. She’s cool, to say the least.
Rafi is my favorite of the three. He has a great sense of humor, even in situations where there shouldn’t be any humor. The whole outcast prince deal works well with him.
Jakim is a sweetheart. He’s just trying to do the right thing; it’s not his fault that everything always seems to crash down around him. His arc reminded me in many ways of Joseph from the Bible. I’m interested to see where his story goes.
Finnian is my top favorite character, though. I want to see the story from his perspective! It would be most amusing.
Content: There’s a hint of romance (which I very much wanted more of and hope to see develop in future books).
War is central to the plot, so there’s lots of fighting and stabbing and burning and punching and… yeah. Lots of blood. But nothing’s graphic, and there’s really not more of it described than is necessary to convey the point that yes, they are in fact in peril.
Writing: Adams employs a unique, somewhat old-fashioned writing style in this book. It reads almost like an Old English lay (which only serves to add to the Rohan vibes coming from the whole book). That does result in distance between the characters and the readers, but it works well with the story. I kind of want to get the audiobook now; this book is just begging to be read out loud.
I also liked how the POV characters all had their own story. We weren’t just going back and forth between three people’s perspective on the same events, and that was cool.
The worldbuilding is incredible. I loved the little blurbs before each chapter giving local sayings or information about the different solborn (i.e. magical horses). This feels like a real place, and while I wouldn’t exactly like to visit (too much war at the moment…), it definitely pulled me in.
The length of the book is a bit of a disadvantage. I enjoyed it, but it was also difficult to keep up with everything, and sometimes I had to go back and re-read the ends of previous chapters just to refresh my memory on what was going on. It didn’t drag, though, which is quite impressive.
Summary: This is the kind of book I wish I could write. The characters are engaging and genuine, the plot is skillfully woven, and the world is delightfully real. It would make a fantastic movie. Fans of epic fantasy aged 16+ will fall in love with this world and ride onwards to adventure with these courageous characters.