Ashlords by Scott Reintgen
ARC received via NetGalley for an honest review.
Publish Date: January 21, 2020
“This was more than just a race. Our world is about to burn. And the two of us are the ones who will set it on fire.”
What makes a book great for you? Is it the characters? The world building? The romance? The action? There’s something about certain books that set them apart from the rest, something that makes them truly great. I find that I can really enjoy a book but still feel like it isn’t a favorite, its got to have that special something to make it stand out and stick with you even after you’ve finished it. Ashlords blew me away. It has everything from interesting and real characters, to vivid world building, tons of action, and a dash of romance to keep all of us love sick swoony type of readers interested. I caught myself thinking about it constantly while I was at work and would rush home to pick it back up and read as much as possible before bed each night, household chores be damned! It was such a unique and interesting type of book that I could only describe as a mixture of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. With otherworldly horses that are raced in an annual competition each year in a futuristic arena that is constantly on display virtually for all those rich enough to pay for their prime entertainment, you can sort of see how it would relate to the books I mentioned. But Ashlords also has its own twist that makes it unique, that gives it its own world and characters to fall in love with.
“A storm wouldn’t be all that fun without a little noise.”
Told in alternating chapters between three main characters and their own journeys as they all end up in the race, we see how each person has a different motivation and reason to win. Whether it be to please the parents who have trained them and guided them through life for this one moment, or to give themselves a name and win so they can save their family from poverty, or even to start a war to break the chains holding them and their people from being truly free. At times I was pulled to one character or another but in the end I found all three POV to be equally as compelling as the rest. They all had a fight to win no matter if it meant winning the race or not. This was more than just a race from the beginning and with three powerfully driven characters there was bound to be a little thunder and lightning out on the course. In a completely unpredictable way, each character finds that once the race begins, they aren’t as prepared as they thought they would be to face all the challenges that lay ahead, and that they must go above and beyond to make it to the finish line, to make it out alive.
“I wonder if that’s what happens to thunder, if that’s why it’s always a second late. Maybe it gets distracted thinking about how beautiful lightning is and forgets that its job is to make all the noise.”
The horses involved in this race are not your ordinary type of horse but in fact, Phoenix Horses. Each night the Phoenix Horses go up in flames and each sunrise the rider must work with their alchemy skills to put just the right ingredients together to create the perfect horse for the ride they will be taking that day. Whether it be a horse with armor, or a horse that can defy gravity, each alchemy combination has a different result when the Phoenix Horse is reborn in the first light of the sun. This was such a cool way to bring an element of science and magic into the story. I loved how there are endless different types of horses you can create depending on what you will need. I kind of wished there was more of this actually. While we got to see a few, it seemed like this could have been a really neat and in depth concept to get into but I get that there was a lot going on in this book already that it might make it drag on a little too much going into all the different types of rebirths that could be created.
“The difference between glory and ruin can be measured in a single stride.”
I am now a definite fan of Scott Reintgen and will have to look into his other series considering this was his first book that I’ve read, I was pleasantly surprised! This was such a fun and different story and I need more!!! There is a kind of cliffhanger ending leaving you set up for the next book in the series so don’t go into this thinking you will get the whole story in one book. I think that this book can be liked by all sorts of readers, whether you like the magical aspects or the science or the action or the romance, there really is a little bit of everything here to keep all interested. I would love if all the books I read for 2020 are on this caliber of greatness! Bring it on!!
If you liked this book:
I saw in a description of Ashlords that it was Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races. Obviously I agree with The Scorpio Races, but I would say that it also had some strong Hunger Games vibes to it as well. With the whole real world arena and all of the futuristic live feed with the rich and powerful cheering on the contestants in this alternative entertainment to keep everyone distracted from war, these things screamed The Hunger Games to me. But the closest comparison I think that this book comes to is absolutely The Scorpio Races. With their dangerous other worldly horses and an annual race for riches, these books could go hand in hand except for their MUCH different settings and even styles of horses. One book has horses made of fire and the others come from the sea, made of water. But if you finish Ashlords and need more of that wild horse race fix, then The Scorpio Races will definitely satisfy you at least until you devour it and find yourself wanting more yet again! The cycle just keeps on going!
How has your all’s year of reading been so far? Have you had any five-star reads yet?? What has been your favorite book so far?? I’d love to know what’s been going on in the world of all my lovely reader friends!!