Title: Ashlords (Ashlords #1)
Author: Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: January 21st, 2020
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 is the start of a new duology that is pitched as The Hunger Games meet An Ember in the Ashes. Now, I haven’t read Ember yet but I am a huge THG fan so I picked this one from BOTM awhile ago. I picked it up as I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the sequel early from Netgalley (come back tomorrow for that review!). I am SO HAPPY I found this book, continue reading for why.
First off, it is similar to THG in that it has an evil government, the Races (compared to the Games) for teenagers, and rebellion. However, the Races are not to the death, which I almost love more. The contestants race on phoenix horses through a course and the winner wins fame and pride for their community. There are three races of people in this book, the Ashlords (the overlords), Longhands, and Dividians (slaves). The story is told in 3 POV’s (love) and one of the POV’s is… different. That’s all I’ll say!
Pippa, Adrian, and Imelda represent the three races and are all participating in the Races. There are wicked gods that the Ashlords pray to, amazing magic and alchemy with the phoenix horses, and a hint of rebellion for the Dividians against the Ashlords. It’s an action packed story that doesn’t let up from start to finish.
Even with the action, I felt there was something missing from this story. I can’t really put my finger on what it is (sorry, I’ve put off writing this review too hoping I could articulate it better). It was one of those books that I raced (ha!) through and when I closed it for the final time felt like the experience was incomplete.
However, overall it was a story that is definitely worth it and I look forward to reading more of Scott Reintgen’s work now that I know I like his style. I know he has another series published, at least.
Happy reading, folks!