Thursday, November 14, 2019

Review: Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri

Realm of Ash (The Books of Ambha, #2)
Realm of Ash (Books of Ambha #2) by Tasha Suri
Publication Date: November 12th, 2019
Paperback. 496 pages

About Realm of Ash:

"The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors' dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price. 

Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she's pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves. 

Together, they'll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they've ever believed...including whether the Empire is worth saving at all."

Last year I had the pleasure of reading Tasha Suri's debut Empire of Sand and I fell so deeply in love with her writing and her characters. There's something special about the way Suri crafts her world and her stories and I couldn't be happier to say that Realm of Ash lived up to its predecessor in all of the best possible ways.

Realm of Ash takes place about ten years after the events of Empire of Sand and this time around we follow Arwa, Mehr's younger sister who only appears in the beginning of Empire of Sand. One of my favorite things about the first book was the characters, so I was honestly slightly unsure how I would feel about following a new set of characters--would they be as complex? would I fall in love with them even half as much as those from Empire of Sand? will there still be that magic? And, of course, by the time I was halfway through I felt guilty for even entertaining those questions.

Arwa is an incredibly strong character that undergoes so many major developments throughout the course of this story. Her commitment to her modesty and to maintaining her reputation for herself and her family were so beautiful and I just genuinely loved watching her navigate all of the obstacles int his book while trying to stay true to herself, only giving in when she felt something was right, not because of anyone else's influence. I couldn't help but feel connected to Arwa and was fully invested in her entire journey.

Another character that we get to know fairly well is Zahir, Princess Jihan's brother. I won't go into too much regarding him or his role because I feel like it's an important part of this journey. Nonetheless, I'll say that he's a similarly fascinating character and I just loved how Suri allowed us to get to know him slowly but steadily along with Arwa and to understand what his own feelings, goals, and motivations are in this world.

I love everything about how Suri develops her world. Her words are a special form of magic that managed to create a world and culture that felt so real and involved. I really like learning about the different areas and ruling powers that exist and how they function. I'm always fascinated by the 'magic' system that is at play in this world and how it ties into religion and other aspects that are so important to this world. In fact, one of my favorite things is how she conveys the traditions and religion of cultures in her world. There's no question over where certain people stand on things or how various ideas are received in this world and I think that shows Suri's deft at crafting an intricate world that still makes sense and is possible to follow.

I'm not entirely sure what Suri is planning to write next (please let there be another book in this series?), but whatever it is, I will absolutely be reading it. I would love to see even more of this world explored and I feel like there is so much more story that could be told about these characters and this world.

Overall, obviously I've given Realm of Ash five stars (a nice match to Empire of Sand's five stars!)

*I received a copy of Realm of Ash courtesy of Orbit books in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

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