Hello, Haley here, and we want to welcome you back to The Reading Room, where we share our thoughts on books we’ve read recently! Today I’m gushing about one of my favorite reads of last year: Ashlords by Scott Reintgen. We received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes. All opinions are our own and do not reflect the thoughts or beliefs of the publisher or author.
I loved this book so much that, after reading an excerpt, we decided to reach out to Scott and his publicist to be the featured author on our blog for the month of January and so this is the second post in our three post series featuring this amazing novel.
Ashlords is the first book in a YA fantasy duology following three very different, but equally compelling, individuals who are participating in the annual phoenix horse races. There is Pippa, the daughter of two former champions and the year’s favorite to win. Adrian is the son of a revolutionary whose entry is meant solely to spark the fire of rebellion throughout the Empire. Finally, there is Imelda, the scholarship entrant who is meant only to be a pawn in a game between those wealthier than her. Of course, she has other plans.
About the BookAshlords by Scott Reintgen
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on January 21, 2020
Genres: YA Fantasy
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?
Ashlords was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint! Although it is my first book by Scott, it will most definitely not be my last. From the first page the book sucks you in with its descriptive writing and captivating scenes. His characters are diverse, distinct and relateable, albeit flawed and very, very human.
While Pippa, Adrian and Imelda are all striving for the same goal: to win the Races, I found myself rooting for each of them in turn and the author flawlessly keeps you guessing as to who, if any of them, will come off victorious.
The alchemy horses were probably my favorite part of the entire book. Every day, powders consisting of basic elements, metals and other components must be properly laid out and mixed to create different horses. At the end of every day, the phoenix horses die and each rider must do everything in their power to protect their horse’s ashes throughout the night.
There are also deals made with gods that some of the characters employ that adds another element of uncertainty and complexity as immortal beings aid some riders and hinder others with steeper and steeper costs to the racers and their sanity. I look forward to learning more about the world of the gods in the next book.
Down to the very last page I could not read fast enough and I was definitely not prepared for how the race, and the book, ended. I cannot wait for the next book in the duology and will definitely be tackling Scott’s backlist in 2020.
I give it 5/5 unapologetic, enthusiastic stars and highly recommend it for readers of Sara J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir and Maggie Stiefvater.
What About You?
Have you read this book? Did you like it as much as I did? I can’t wait to chat about it with you!