Thursday, March 26, 2020

Review: Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward

Legacy of Ash (Legacy Trilogy, #1)
Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward
Publication Date: April 9th, 2020
Hardcover. 320 pages

About Legacy of Ash:

"A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.

While the armies of the Hadari Empire invade the borderlands, the Republic's noble families plot against each other, divided by personal ambition. 

But as Tressia falls, heroes rise.

Viktor Akadra is the Republic's champion and conqueror of the rebellious south. A warrior without equal, he also hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic. Josiri Trelan would gladly see Viktor condemned to the flames - vengeance for a rebellion crushed and a mother slain. And while Josiri plots fresh insurrection, his sister, Calenne, is determined to escape their tarnished legacy and break the shackles of the past. 

As dark days beckon, these three must overcome their differences to save the Republic. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. Victory - if it comes at all - will command a higher price than they could have imagined."

I really wasn't sure what to expect from Legacy of Ash--an epic fantasy debut that's nearly 800 pages is no joke--and although it took a little while to get fully acquainted with the world, once I was hooked I didn't want to stop reading it. This is a perfect example of modern epic fantasy in my opinion: it has some classic fantasy vibes and general ideas, but it's incredibly innovative and has some really exciting characters and storylines.

Legacy of Ash has a wide cast of characters and POVs that jump around a decent bit. The main focuses are Viktor, Josiri, Calenne, Melnna, and possibly a few more that I'm overlooking. I was a bit intimidated at first by all of the different character viewpoints, but as I started to get more into the story I found myself being able to more easily distinguish between each character and become more invested in their storylines. It did take a while to get to this point, as there are so many names and details to remember, but it was worth it for me personally once I got to that point. I think one of my favorite things about this book is that we get to see POVs from almost all sides (though it is a bit lacking in viewpoints from the more 'regular' classes of people), so we get a good understanding for the motivations behind the battles and discord, as well as an ability to become invested in both sides for various reasons--and maybe lost some support for certain sides!

Without getting into too many unneeded details for a review, Legacy of Ash centers around the Tressia, the Southerners, and the Hadari. The Tresia and Southerners have a long history of hatred between one another, and then the Hadari are essentially a third external threat that is threatening to attack the other two. We get to see characters from all three sides, which I appreciate, and I love how Ward made each section so well-developed that you can mostly understand motivations from all sides. By the end of the book I had really grown to be invested in the lives of most of the characters and it has made me really curious to find out what's going to be next, especially after the epic events of this book.

Ward's world-building was vast and exceptionally well-done. There's plenty of myth and history to give this world background and grounding, as well as current tensions and conflicts to keep the story going. I'm not sure that I fully understood how the magic system worked, but I was immersed in it nonetheless and am curious to see how it continues to develop. If you like your epic fantasy filled with politics and conflicts of all types, then you will have a great time with this book because it is overflowing with political intrigue and some captivating conflicts between characters and territories. There are also some truly epic battle scenes that were far extremely compelling and really added to the impact of other story events.

Ward has a very clear prose style that makes this book easy to fall into, though I will say that there was still something just a little bit rough around the edges about the writing. There were occasional places where dialogue or description felt awkward, but over 800 pages those ended up being less noticeable than they would've been in another book. That being said, since this is an epic fantasy debut it definitely just feels like Ward is figuring out his voice and I have the highest of hopes for the sequel.

Overall, I've given Legacy of Ash four stars! I look forward to seeing what Ward will bring next to this series.

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

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