“The old ones will have their revenge.
Two peoples have been fighting over the same land for a thousand years. Invaders crushed the original inhabitants, and ancient powers have reluctantly given way to newer magics. But Ember was to change all this with a wedding to bind these warring people together – until her future goes up in flames.
Ember’s husband-to-be is murdered by a vengeful elemental god, who sees peace as a breach of faith. Set on retribution, she enlists the help of Ash, son of a seer. Together they will pit themselves against elementals of fire and ice in a last attempt to end the conflicts that have scarred their past. They must look to the present, as old furies are waking to violence and are eager to reclaim their people.”
Let’s cut to the chase. This was a DNF for me. I kind of debated whether or not it would be worth going to the end of the novel just to see where the characters end up in the end. Then I realized this book was about five hundred pages and decided that I’m not that invested to get to the end of a Game of Thrones sized novel. So. This review is going to be a bit shorter than most of my reviews. Or not. I don’t know, apparently my rant reviews are hilarious.
The two man characters of this book (Ember and Ash…) aren’t anything to write home about.
Ember is a warlord’s daughter and her sole goal in life is to be a warlord’s wife. Which okay, I’m not the housewife type but no judgement if you are, but she goes through such character changes in the same breath that I’m suddenly confused as to who Ember is supposed to be. The early chapters of any book is important for exposition and furthermore for a fantasy novel. If I’m confused as to the motives and to the character in general pages before her ~grand adventure~, then I’m not going to be able to support or get behind her. I feel like I don’t know her, so why do I care for her cause (because I’m supposed to, which I’ll get to in a second)? She has about a chapter before she goes on her journey and all I can gather is that:
A. She’s essentially a rich girl who wants to be a housewife.
B. She really likes this guy she was engaged to, but they have like no interaction with chemistry so when shit hits the fan I’m like “oh nooooo….” with a strong hint of sarcasm.
C. She throws a tantrum and says that she will “not be owned or commanded by anyone” (even though the very notion of her marriage is being owned by a man because she doesn’t hold any power in council… sooooooooo) and then does a sudden switch-a-roo full of noble “I must do it for my people” vibes that seems out of left field.
D. She speaks about peace and prosperity and “moving with the times”, but was pretty much going to slut shame the people she was trying to unite? For a crash course on the history, there are the Travelers and the New Blood? Old Blood? I don’t know it’s very confusing, but essentially people are really prejudiced against Travelers and her mother is one so while she wants to talk about acceptance she still has really strong prejudices against her mother’s people so I’m just ????
There’s also a scene where her squad gets attacked by bandits and she has a dagger out, but my immediate reaction instead of “oh good she’s prepared” is “did she… ever have any combat training?”
Ash is about as interesting as a plank of wood. There’s a prologue scene at the beginning of the book and I felt like I was missing a huge piece of the puzzle. It felt like I should already know Ash, but I don’t so I was just kind of sitting at the end of the chapter confused. He’s also probably the least useful in the squad considering and he even brings it up in the narrative. He doesn’t know why he was included and I’m in the corner whispering, “because you’re the love interest, it’s plot armor”. I guess he’s got magic because his mom’s a prophet of the gods, but somehow he even made that seem boring.
This really suffers from the tell and not show syndrome. I think it can be made clear considering how badly the characters are portrayed. This entire book from the beginning was packed with these words of imagery and what not, but when it came to actual plot there were so many things I was supposed to think simply because the plot told me so. Which… look, I’m not a fan of people telling me to believe something simply because “that’s the story and I’m supposed to”.
Can you imagine how boring Six of Crows would be if Leigh Bardugo just told everyone that Inej was a badass and did nothing to show for it? It wouldn’t be fun!
So here I am reading this story that’s essentially telling me that Ember and her fiance (forgot his name already lol) are madly in love, but they have no scenes or interactions to show for it except for their wedding which barely sounds like a wedding at all. Wow she loves him so much, but why? Ember never spoke of any of his characteristics as a human being or their interactions.
The story also seemed a bit disorganized. It took place in about four different locations, but the only one that I seemed to really think mattered was with Ember, but that was a glorified road trip so…
I also heard that this was a spin off of a trilogy? I got this book through Bookly Box and I didn’t think they would send me a novel that’s taken from the same universe as a previous series, but perhaps the people there didn’t know either. Either way, it makes sense as to why I didn’t understand a lot of the novel. It felt like there was missing information because there was! This novel was assuming I had read the trilogy beforehand and so I was expected to take everything in stride, but since it’s not officially tethered to the trilogy, I felt like there should’ve been more of an attempt to explain everything again.
From bland characters and annoying plot armor I don’t think this book and I were made for each other from the start. While taking the Elves to Isengard is interesting enough, this was just a glorified road trip that was about as interesting as a road trip normally is, which is next to none.
There are also people in the novel with really unoriginal names (a character named Onion is killed early on… which I don’t know what possessed you to name a character Onion, but to each their own). I’ll admit this is really nitpicky but it really took me out of the experience when there’s a character named Onion and the Foreverfrost… Foreverfroze (?) is the name for an icy region.
I really didn’t like this book. Don’t buy it.
Title: Ember and Ash
Author: Pamela Freeman
Published: May 1, 2011 by Orbit