REVIEW: Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler

I received an uncorrected advance copy of Ashes of the Sun in exchange for an honest review. I’d like to thank Django Wexler and Orbit Books for the opportunity.

The first entry in the Burningblade and Silvereye series begins when Va’aht Thousandcuts – a centarch of the Twilight Order – turns up at a farm dwelling to take away a child from the family that resides there. The youth in question, five-year-old Maya, does not wish to leave the household. Unfortunately, as she suffers frequently from peculiar illnesses, she has no choice and will have to be raised as a member of the Twilight Order. Gyre, her eight-year-old brother, upon seeing his little sister resisting and screaming acts on impulsive and makes a foolhardy mistake in stabbing the centrach. This was a life-altering error to make as Va’aht Thousandcuts retaliates and leaves Gyre scarred for life.

“He was falling backwards, hitting the floor shoulder-first, feeling nothing but the searing agony in his face. He mashed his hand against it, and blood squished, torn skin shifting nauseatingly under his fingers. He only realised he was screaming when he had to stop to take a breath.”

52822248. sx318 sy475 Ashes of the Sun follows the point of view perspectives of Maya and Gyre, alternating every chapter. After the prologue, the action recommences twelve years later. The siblings are living very different lives.

Maya is training to be a centrach under the guidance of Jaedia Suddenstorm. The Twilight Order follow the teachings of the Chosen and are the protectors of humanity. Members of the order can use a form of magic known as deiat and weild legendary blades called haken. Haken are akin to element-fused lightsabers. The magic that Maya can display is that of fire. We join her on her travels with her tutor and a fellow student trying to eradicate monstrous oddities called plaguespawn. Plaguespawn are described as “the product of a mad taxidermist, given the run of the contents of a butcher shop and human morgue.”

Gyre hasn’t seen Maya since the day she was taken away. He is now known as Halfmask and operates in a gang of rebels who are extremely anti-state and authority. The mask her wears is to hide the hideous scar from when he lost his eye. Gyre has a seething hatred to authority but the Twilight Order in particular and will do all he can to oppose them and bring them down.

Ashes of the Sun was my first time reading a novel by Django Wexler and I was very impressed by the top-notch writing, quality storytelling, and the fine worldbuilding. In fact, I completely lost myself in Wexler’s world. The concept intrigued me from the very start. Two siblings on opposite sides of a looming civil war in a dystopian, futuristic fantasy world. Will their paths cross? What will the consequences be if they do? What will they say when finally reunited?

There is a huge glossary of Burningblade and Silvereye unique words such as cognomen, unmetal, dhakim, panoply field, ghouls, the Chosen etc which may seem confusing initially but soon fit perfectly and make complete sense. If confused at any point though the glossary can be found at the rear of the novel and is extremely detailed and useful.

The members of the supporting cast were a joy to follow too. Most of whom have extremely colourful hair. Personal favourites were rival/soon to be centarch Tanax, love interest and arcanist Beq, rebel influencer Yarrow, and the amusing scout Varo. The latter frequently discusses how his friends have died in humorously horrific fashion on former missions. The mysterious, frivolous and kooky Kit Doomseeker is a belter of a character too.

Ashes of the Sun is a real high-octane, dystopian fantasy thrill-ride. The action throughout is scintillating. There are some extremely exciting showdowns, skirmishes, and fights against grotesque monstrosities. Some scenes are unpredictable and shocking too. There is a large amount of violence and gore but the way I envisaged it was extremely heightened and colourful. The finale of Ashes of the Sun is fantastic and was completely thrilling. This novel acts as a complete standalone yet there is still so much to see and explore in Wexler’s world and I’ll 100% be continuing the adventure of Burningblade and Silvereye when the subsequent books are released. Highly recommended.

*Quotations used in this review are subject to change for the final release.

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James Tivendale

James reviews fantasy books, is a pretty good pool player and likes the musical Hamilton.