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(Ashen Torment #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  45 reviews
From celebrated fantasy author Den Patrick comes WITCHSIGN, the first novel in a fresh and exciting new fantasy trilogy

It has been seventy-five years since the dragons’ rule of fire and magic was ended. Out of the ashes, the Solmindre Empire was born.

Since then, the tyrannical Synod has worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane from existence. However, childre
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by HarperVoyager UK
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  175 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads, arc, fantasy
An engaging introduction to a very promising series!

‘What if Harry Potter was sent to Russian Hogwarts only to find out he was a Muggle?’

The answer to this bizarre question is given in a most elaborate and gripping manner by Den Patrick in his new series, The Ashen Torment. Witchsign follows the stories of two siblings, Steiner and Kjellrunn, who live in a godforsaken province of the Scorched Republics. The dragons are long dead, but the Solmindre Empire looms over the continent threatening, kee
Robin Hobb
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robin by: Publisher
As always, the honesty post: I received this book free as an Advance Reading Copy from the publisher. I haven't met Den Patrick.

I just really liked this book.
I felt like Den Patrick's only agenda was to tell a really good story, and he did it well. He writes convincingly of life in a harsh environment, one made even grimmer by a repressive government. He writes convincingly of an older brother both annoyed and dismayed by his sister's inability or lack of desire to conceal that she is different,
Jane Kelsey
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars
Very slow paced and too much talking and less doing. Not quite my cup of tea to be fair, but it was ok.
Edward Cox
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Den Patrick is back with style. After the success of the Erebus Sequence, he weighs in with Witchsign, the first book in the Ashen Torment. It's full of intrigue and mystery, magic and action, and here be dragons! Great world, great story, great characters, Witchsign is a fantasy adventure that you need to add to your reading list.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Erebus Sequence is an excellent trilogy, each book better than the last. The faux Renaissance setting, exciting plot and the memorable characters made The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, The Boy Who Wept Blood and The Girl on the Liar’s Throne all first rate reads. When I was offered the opportunity to read the first book in Den Patrick’s new series, The Ashen Torment, I jumped at the chance.

In Vinkerveld, the arcane is viewed with distrust. The Emperor and his Synod ensure every child is chec
Fleur (FranklyBooks)
Feb 08, 2018 marked it as to-read
Ashen Torment. Doesn't that sound just sublime? I'll definitely be looking out for this on the shelves sometime soon.
Alyssa Grace
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Sick of every fantasy protagonist being the Chosen One? Witchsign is the book for you. Den Patrick's Steiner Vartiainen is a scrappy blacksmith's son looked down on for his illiteracy. The best part of it is that after I feared that the other shoe would drop the whole novel, he never receives the magical destined legacy that eventually relieved everyone from Luke Skywalker to Jon Snow of their humble origins. No, Steiner is a nobody (at least for now), and that doesn't make him any less of a her ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
1,5 stars, rounded up to two. Oh boy, what to say about this one. The back cover made me laugh, because I saw that the main character's last name was Vartiainen. It's a common finnish surname, so it was hard to take the names seriously from then on, especially when that was the only finnish last name in the book, so it seemed very random. The mixing of the languages in general really bothered me. The basic names were a combination of Swedish, Norwegian and Russian, plus a bit of German and Finni ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like 3.5 stars. I’ll have to go back to not reading blurbs as I enjoy books more when I don't have set plot expectations for them.

Witchsign had a cool concept and I felt was fun but it failed to pull me in as I expected to read something a little different. The only really negative thing I have to say about it is that by about halfway through the characters started feeling a little safe and flat and that made my interest slip. That said, I probably would have loved this in my earlier fantas
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The masked Vigilants come for the children with Witchsign, taken from their homes and family, they are never seen again.
I loved the Erebus Sequence and was looking forward to reading Witchsign, the first book of The Ashen series and I wasn't disappointed. It has all the right elements that make a good fantasy story; folklore, magic and lots of interesting characters - my favourites were Silverdust and Tief, I also really liked the Cinderwraiths - Ohhh and there's Dragons.
I will definitely be r
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This books has dragons in it. That is all! Seriously I loved the characters in this book. It’s one of the things that had me really interested. Also the whole premise of Witchsign and the magic system was quite interesting.
Anna Stephens
3.5 stars.
A strong and interesting new YA fantasy with enough mysteries to keep me turning the pages. Magic, dragons, heroes and witches, there's a lot to like in Witchsign and some real villains to rail against.
Good stuff!
Oct 09, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, dnf
Dnf @ 32%
Iryna KL
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, favorites
4.5 - full review to come
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marc Morris
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the first books in a long time I have been looking for time to read sneaking 5mins here and 5 mins there as I was hooked after first few chapters.

This is definitely what YA fantasy should be like as it has qualities that many would love and is a great taste of what is out there fantasy wise once those YA develop are love of fantasy.
There is few original ideas in here and it’s a age old young boy becomes a heroic man and champion of others in a time of need . Other become a trained
Rituranjan Gogoi
A compelling coming of age fantasy tale for young adults, and it is pretty much on the level of David Edding's The Belgariad, Vol. 1: Pawn of Prophecy / Queen of Sorcery / Magician's Gambit, but with a more twisted and grim take on the tropes we are familiar with. Simply speaking, this book will resonate with the YA readers who want to read fantasy with a sense of adventure for a change. Also, the novel explores the themes of oppression, colonialism, and slavery which will find a voice among the ...more
No One
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to write this review in sections to make it easier for me to rant😂


I felt absolutely no attachment or love for the characters. I still don't know what they look like as there was no description of them at all. Their relationships were never regarded in anyway and were intentionally forced, I couldn't feel any emotions that the characters were feeling or any connection.


The plot was interesting enough but got boring after a while. I realised that there was only going to be o
Nicole Sweeney
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review originally posted on The Bibliophile Chronicles.

I really loved Den Patrick's The Erebus Sequence so I was really excited to pick up a copy of this brilliant sounding book. The cover is just gorgeous and it sounds like a captivating story. Witchsign is the kind of book that you want to read all the time, squeezing in a chapter on the commute, on a lunch break and any other possible time.

I adored the world of Witchsign. Patrick creates a really fascinating world and the bleak and desolate
Angela Smith
I liked the story a lot more than I expected to. Some of other people's reviews maybe lowered my expectations. However I rather liked it. It had the fantasy elements that appeal to me with magic and dragons and folklore.

Anyone who has the taint of the Witchsign is spirited away and never heard of again. Most think it's a death sentence to be discovered with it. In the village of Cinderfell no one has had it in years but the blacksmiths daughter seems about to change that. Kjellrunn is a bit of
'Any great country that has to kill its own people to remain great is missing the point.' Steiner p335

Immensely readable adult/teen crossover fantasy novel set in world where a relatively new empire is building and testing its reach with a heavy hand. A hand in chainmail, backed by masked sorceries, that has already purge the land of arcane powered species such as dragons and now turns to capturing all children who show signs of magic, regardless of whether their country belongs to the empire or
Book Gannet
This book was slow to get going as it builds up to it’s inverted-Hunger Games moment (not so much “I volunteer!” as “You will sacrifice yourself for your sister”). With a vaguely Scandinavian/Northern European setting, it pits the dark Empire against ordinary folk with cruel, child-stealing rituals and banned magic for mysterious and often nefarious reasons. It’s quite dark (literally with all that soot and being underground most of the time) and grim in its outlook, with very little hope, but t ...more
Amanda Bartoszek
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One thing that immediately struck me with this book was the names. The story has a lot of Nordic/Viking-style names. Particularly in the opening chapters we are bombarded with numerous place names to set the world we're in. Maybe it's because I'm not used to this style but it meant I found it a. very hard to read or pronounce them, and b. could not ever remember any of them. It took me until halfway through the book just to remember Nordvlast and Vladibogden, and most of the time I just found my ...more
Richard Webb
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a land resembling the Scandinavian/Baltic/Russian sub-continent, a Northerly village ekes out a meager subsistence, fearing the iron rule of the Solmindre Empire. The Empire maintains order through its ruthless, Inquisition-like pursuit of those who have the witchsign, rounding them up like heretics and transporting them to a bleak island penal colony.

When a teenage girl, Kjellrun, exhibits magic-casting potential, her family closes ranks to try and keep her safe. When Steiner, her brother, (
Chantal Lyons
In spite of an intriguing opening, I steadily grew more and more bored with this book, and the final 70 pages are the only reason this isn't a two star review.

I haven't read the author's previous series but I've heard a lot of good things about it, and honestly, I expected this book to be better written. I think one of the main reasons the book doesn't work for me is that it isn't sure of its own tone - it teeters awkwardly between grimdark and children's fairytale. The characters have an irrita
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, owned
So I gave this 5/5 stars. I was in a reading slump but I still wanted to pick this up at every chance that I could. It was fast paced as it really kept you really wanting to read more, but it wasn't too fast paced where it felt rushed. As it is the first book in a trilogy there was a lot of history and world building that needed to be introduced. I thought this was done so well as it wasn't just one big info-dump at the beginning. The history and world building was spread throughout the story an ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and hoovered it up in the space of a few days.
The Nordic setting felt very real, with some really wonderful descriptions of sea and forest (I love a good bit of description, I do).
The characters are well drawn and I particularly liked Steiner, the main protagonist, who is an 18 year old blacksmith with a mouth that gets him into more than a bit of trouble, but also a lot of grit and heart.
Overall, the pacing is spot on, with plenty of conflict and action to keep you
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: have
I'm really conflicted about this one. I wanted to love it more than I actually did. There's are many cool aspects to this story but it get really disjointed at times and often a character just popped up seemingly out of nowhere and just made me feel like this book needed another round of edits.
The last third of the book was much faster paced, lees convoluted and more action packed and intriguing. It ended in a way that left me eager to pick up the sequel and I'm hoping the dragons play a much l
Charlotte Render
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'd have read this book a lot quicker if I hadn't moved houses in the process!
What a phenomenally written book, I loved nearly everything in this book, just a couple of slow bits in the first chapter but that is so minor in comparison to the whole book. I feel though that I butchered the pronunciations of the names and countries/islands in my head though, so I do wish there was a how to pronounce page included. The characters are well fleshed out and there was so much I wasn't expecting in this
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel mean giving a 3 but couldn't justify a 4 despite enjoying the book.
I bought into the main characters but the story did lurch. There seemed to be leaps and predictability in the story line with some relationships built without much backing.
It is not a hard read and flows quick but that also means it lacks some depth.
Despite the above, I am glad I picked up the book and will come back for the was a good book to bring a lighter read after an intense biography.
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Den Patrick is originally from Dorset and lives in London. His first three books for Gollancz, the War Fighting Manuals, were released in the autumn of 2013.
The Boy with the Porcelain Blade was nominated for the British Fantasy Newcomer award and forms the first book in the The Erebus Sequence. The Boy Who Wept Blood and The Girl on the Liar's Throne complete this trilogy of Gothic Fantasy books

Other books in the series

Ashen Torment (3 books)
  • Untitled (Ashen Torment, #2)
  • Untitled (Ashen Torment, #3)