REVIEW: A Prelude to Ashes by Thiago Abdalla

Last Updated on February 12, 2024

Thiago Abdalla’s prequel novella, A Prelude to Ashes, takes place one hundred years prior to the events of A Touch of Light, Book One of The Ashes of Avarin series.

A Prelude to AshesOne hundred years? It’s actually not that long for the people of the Domain, who live extraordinarily long lives thanks, presumably, to the blessings of the Seraph, the goddess of life who keeps death at bay.

A Prelude to Ashes is an excellent introduction to the world of Avarin. Although you could read A Prelude to Ashes and A Touch of Light in either order, I’d recommend reading A Prelude to Ashes first.

There are a couple of reasons for this suggestion. First, the prequel novella provides helpful worldbuilding-related information to lay the context for the much longer A Touch of Light. Second, given its narrower scope and smaller cast of characters, A Prelude to Ashes is more accessible for new readers. Hence, I’d advise new readers to tackle A Prelude to Ashes first and then move on to A Touch of Light.

Although there is important foundational worldbuilding in A Prelude to Ashes, the real focus is on the relationships among the characters. I especially loved the bond between Prince Adrian and his older brother, Jovu, as well as Adrian’s forbidden relationship with his partner, Myrra, a princess from the rival nation of Dakhra. Adrian and Myrra are trying to unite their two countries within the common land of the Domain, but will their fathers be able to overcome their longstanding differences?

The plot of A Prelude to Ashes is full of action, just as in A Touch of Light and its sequel, A Shade of Madness. Abdalla strikes just the right balance between character development and heart-pounding action, with plenty of well-written scenes for grimdark readers to enjoy:

“The blood oozed thick and dark, red so deep it shone black in the night. Maybe not even red, now that she inspected him closer. Nasha took another few tentative steps, one hand close to her obsidian hunter’s knife, breath held in her chest.”

The ending of A Prelude to Ashes is especially well done, leaving me thirsty to spend more time in the land of Avarin.

Overall, A Prelude to Ashes is a very welcome addition to The Ashes of Avarin series and the perfect place to start for readers new to Thiago Abdalla’s epic fantasy world.


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John Mauro

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

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