Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders--skilled at alchemy--who must compete at The Races--the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.
Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they've raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That's all legal and encouraged.
In this year's Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest--a champion's daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary's son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?
Scott Reintgen grew up in North Carolina, and took full advantage of the fact that he lived on the same street as fourteen of his cousins. It could be a little crowded, but he threw a few elbows and carved out a space for himself as the family storyteller. He enjoyed the role so much that he decided to spend most of college and graduate school investing in the world of literature. This led to a career teaching English and Creative Writing in the great state of North Carolina, where he currently lives with his wife and family. To his great delight, the demand for stories and storytellers is alive and well. As such, he can often be found at local coffee shops laboring over stories that he hopes his family, and fans, will love.
I couldn't sleep last night, so I picked this up on a whim and devoured the entire book in one sitting! Scott Reintgen has a way with words; his writing is accessible to readers of all ages, his narrative is captivating and engaging, and his characters are diverse in a way that doesn't feel forced, or for the sake of diversity. Ashlords is a thrilling introduction to a new duology, and per usual the author has me waiting anxiously for the conclusion. This was a fast paced read, a brilliant adventure, and another success to add to Reintgen's collection of tales.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.
[3.5/5 stars] Scott Reintgen’s creativity always sparks my interest. I loved his Nyxia Triad enough to be sold on a new novel from him before even knowing what it was about.
As it turns out, it’s about racing phoenix horses across the desert. Um, hell yeah, sign me up!
A really cool concept and some great characters drove this story when other things like pacing and idea overload threatened to become issues. There are some well-thought out mechanics on the magic surrounding the breeding and care of these phoenix horses, and I loved learning about their different ash compositions and how riders use them strategically for the races. Good stuff.
The story contained three dominant POVs, and I’m happy to say I found each of them equally appealing. My favorite perspective, Pippa, was told using second person format, which I’m really, really hoping was done for a greater, as of yet unrevealed purpose and not just a stylistic choice added solely for variety. I’m specifically channeling Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy, where the reveal of the odd POV was my favorite aspect of the whole series… high stakes there, so I’m hoping this one lives up to expectation. :)
The whole book is focused around this race, yet it was well past 50% of the novel before the race actually started. That first half was used to establish character and set up rivalries, but I don’t think it needed quite that much time. Especially when a lot of that could’ve been experienced on the course itself (much like what Collins did in the Hunger Games Trilogy). And I also would’ve like more expansion on the race itself (more obstacles and more time to really immerse in the experience… it went by too fast). After all, it’s the selling point of the novel – savor it!
At the beginning of the book, there’s an author’s note I’d recommend reading before diving in. It explains how he came up with the concept for the story… and the fact that it was originally intended to be a race across four dimensions instead of just one. I’ve no idea what his writing peers read from him that caused them to shut down the idea and have him focus on just this world, but personally I would’ve been more inclined to encourage him to rewrite and re-devise and keep the original vision – it seems an excellent one!
Additionally, there were a lot of jumbled concepts in this book that I think were leftovers from a much broader original outline that felt very out of place if this series is going to be primarily focused on one world (most notably, the “gods” dynamic). If I hadn’t read the authors note, my biggest criticism would have been that the story suffered from too many ideas that didn’t really come together. The insight was needed. But it also makes me yearn for the series he actually wanted to write. I trust the vision. Maybe it needed major reworking, but this almost felt like the plan B project instead of the golden idea project. I could be reading too much into this though haha.
Overall, it’s a fun, creative introduction to this new series, and I’m already eager to see what happens next.
Recommendations: this is an excellent recommend for YA Fantasy Readers who like books with competition. It would also be a great one to hand teens who have trouble getting into books – it provides a really accessible storyline that I think keeps attention really well (worth a shot, right?). I have a few personal reservations from a hyper-analytical standpoint, but I’m holding out to see how the series comes together in future books. The basic takeaway is: it’s a fun book! I think most will enjoy it. :)
I’d like to thank Random House Children’s, Scott Reintgen, and Netgalley for the chance to read an early copy of Ashlords!
First of all, this is being sold as Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races and I just have something to say about it, which is: you wish. Said that, with such an intriguing premise and the promise of dangerous and deadly horse races, alchemy, a rebellion and freaking phoenix horses, I honestly expected this to become my next favorite book. What a fool I've been. It didn't even make it to the top 30.
I must confess that at first I thought it was getting somewhere interesting and I was hooked but before I knew it Ashlords turned into something kinda hard to like and get into. I kept telling myself the good things were still about to happen, that I just had to be patient and wait, but I hardly made it to the end without dying of boredom and frustration.
This book has an interesting plot, a well executed world building, a very fine writing, but it also has an annoying second-person pov, one of the main character constantly and very uncomfortably referring to his father as daddy, way too much politics, way too many names and way too little phoenix horses. The first half of the book contains a huge pile of informations and serves as an introduction to the characters and the complicated history of the world the story takes place in. Trust me when I say that this book takes the word info-dumping and exasperates it into infinity. The second half, revolves around The Races (a very tame version of the bloody ones you'd find in the book by Maggie Stiefvater's this story's been compared to) and the rebellion that, if anything, reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games minus all the pathos and a tad more confusing.
Overall, Ashlords was not a bad book, but it was so distant from the book I was promised. Let's say that I loved the idea behind it more than I loved the book itself. Also, if you're gonna advertise this by comparing it to two masterpieces, make sure you know you can hold up to the comparison.
I am absolutely in love with the cover and I'll probably read something else by this author, but when it comes to this one, I think we're done for good and it wasn't even the sweetest of goodbyes.
Ashlords by Scott Reintgen is the first book of a new young adult fantasy duology series. The story follows three of the Phoenix racers by changing the point of view between the characters with each chapter as they prepare for the upcoming race.
The riders in the big race will be riding Phoenix horses that are brought to life by the rider’s alchemy giving them all unique qualities. At the end of each day however in the race the Phoenix return to ash until their rider can resurrect them again.
Pippa, Adrian, and Imelda are three of the eleven racers that are preparing themselves for the grueling battle ahead. All have trained in the ways they could with one coming from a champion family and expected to win, one being a scholarship entrant, and another a revolutionary’s son preparing for war.
Well Ashlords certainly took an often used clashing society full of the different classes of citizens on the verge of uprising to a different place. The idea of the big upcoming race somewhat gave me images of them being tossed into the Hunger Games but with a whole new unique battle for these entrants using magic and mischief to compete with their Phoenixes. The end of this first book was just enough of a cliffhanger to show that book two will probably take readers to a whole new side to these characters story too to leave readers wanting more.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
if i wanted to read a story like ‘the scorpio races’ or ‘red rising,’ i would just read ‘the scorpio races’ or ‘red rising.’ both of which are immensely superior to this novel, in my opinion. it almost feels like an insult, really, to compare this to them.
there are several things which led to my disliking of this: a son who calls his father ‘daddy’ which made me cringe every time, the unfortunate and unnecessary use of second person POV for one of the characters, the race not even beginning until after the halfway point and, even then, its just very underwhelming and inconsequential.
this is just a massive miss for me, unfortunately. i would have DNF'd it if i didnt have such a compulsive need to know who won the race.
I loved horse books growing up—Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, Pony Pals…if it had horses, I probably read it— so to this day anything that combines horses and fantasy is right up my alley. With its dystopian Wild West vibes and phoenix horse races, Ashlords was no exception.
The worldbuilding is by far the best part of this book. I absolutely loved the idea of phoenix horses that must be reborn each day, meaning their riders must strategize to ensure they make it through the race. Not only this, but the characteristics of their horses are determined using alchemy, so riders must also have the scientific knowledge to combine elements and create the fastest and strongest mounts. It made the race about more that just strength and riding ability, which was super unique and made the different elements that affected the horses so intriguing. You could tell Scott Reintgen had a lot of fun coming up with these combinations.
Reintgen is an engaging storyteller and skilled writer whom readers of any age could enjoy. He paints each chapter vividly, making it was easy to keep turning the pages. Although the book dragged a bit towards the end of the first half, since it takes until about the 50% mark for the race to start, I otherwise felt very invested in the plot and could not wait to see who would win the race. The race itself delivered action-packed, high stakes scenes, and once it began I didn’t stop reading until I finished the book.
As for what I didn’t like; I’m still not sure why Reintgen chose to write two of the POVs in first person, but the third POV in second person. Unless there’s an unexpected twist to be revealed in book #2 (who knows, we’ll see…), it came off as an attempt to be unique in a world where so many YA Fantasy books are told in first person POV. You get used to the second person POV as the book goes on, so luckily it wasn’t too distracting, but it still had me questioning this choice.
In addition, while I liked the three MCs and found them each interesting in different ways, I wouldn’t say I felt too attached to any of them. Because of their backstories and personalities, combined with the cowboy dystopian setting, their stoicism made them unreadable at times. Perhaps this was Reintgen’s intention, as due to circumstances each character presented themself to in a way that was expected of them, but as the reader it felt like I barely scratched the surface of who they truly were.
Lastly, I didn’t love the gods/religion of the Ashlords. I found it all confusing and thought it didn’t quite fit into the world. However, this might come down to personal preference, as I often think gods/religion feel forced in YA Fantasy. It sometimes seems like authors feel the need check off a “religion” box on their worldbuilding sheet, but instead of complementing the story their additions ultimately oversaturate what would otherwise be very successful worldbuilding. This was the case for Ashlords.
Overall, this was a likeable read, and I’m interested to see what happens next. Perhaps in book #2 we’ll get to know the characters better, or find out just why Pippa’s perspective is told in second person POV. Either way, I’m hoping for more action, even higher stakes, and, most importantly, more phoenix horses.
"Yes, they die so that they might become something more."
Hello, my friends! I recently finished this wonderful book and figured it would be a great story to review.
Ashlords immediately throws you into this unique world of humans and phoenixes. Phoenixes are essentially horses who have the power to resurrect and burn, and people race them for sport and clout. There are three PoV's in this book and I enjoyed all of their stories. Imelda is a girl who manages to get a spot in the race due to a scholarship. She has such a drive to keep her family safe and she thinks with this money from the race that she can do so. There is also a lot on her shoulders as her people are looked down upon by most in this world. Pippa is the daughter of the previous champions. She is strong and hopeful that she will conquer this year's race but at the same time battling demons (wink wink) that could ruin everything for her. Pippa's PoV is told in the second person and it brings you into her feelings so well, she is the shining star of this book for me. Adrian is the son of a commander, he is very focused on pleasing his dad and upholding his family's reputation. He's really the comical relief I feel like in this book, and he's also pretty much the "eye candy" if you will in this whole world.
This is such an interesting world in my opinion based solely on the fact that the world revolves so much around these horse races and that they are so brutal. I was getting such Hunger Games vibes from this book because these Phoenix Racers are so caught up in the social and political aspects of racing. Winning these races brings so much fame and power that it's so important to pretty much all these characters to win. What I truly loved about this overall is that it's so incredibly fast-paced that you never get bored. And while the whole purpose of this book is for the races to happen, there is also a lot of character growth and development that takes place as well.
I truly am so excited for the sequel and Scott reminded me again that he is truly a wonderful author.
If you ever want a super bingeable book, I 100% recommend Ashlords. Also, the cover is stunning so that should be enough persuasion to pick up this book.
Thank you Netgalley and Scotts Team for providing me with a review copy.
Scott Reintgen’s ASHLORDS is a literary powerhouse of imagination! Race along the elite riders in an annual race on phoenix horses that die each sunset, only to be reborn with alchemy the next sunrise. Deceit, treachery, and the need to win at any cost will test three riders from three different walks of life. Who will keep their honor and integrity? Who will fall to the lowest of lows?
A brilliantly told tale that invites readers to ride alongside, peek into the characters’ minds and thrill at every step of the way! Scott Reintgen holds nothing back as he fires off a tale that will grab the attention of all readers, while targeting young adults with something they can sink their hearts, souls and minds into!
I received a complimentary ARC edition from Crown Books for Young Readers! This is my honest and voluntary review.
Duology: Book 1 Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (January 21, 2020) Publication Date: January 21, 2020 Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure Print Length: 368 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
The three main reasons why I added 'Ashlords' to my tbr-pile:
1) The cover looked very cool. 2) The premise sounded like it would be adventurous and action-packed, which I always seem to enjoy. 3) And most importantly, this book was compared to Red Rising and The Scorpio Races. (at that time I hadn't read RR yet, but heard only great things about it and The Scorpio Races had easily became one of my favorite books of 2018. So naturally my interest towards this book grew.
What made me to actually pick up the book and read it.
As you all know this book is apperantely like Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races.
Coincidentally, as I was going through book related videos on IG I had just finished Red Rising at that time, and i came across to a few videos that were praising Ashlords and that it's underhyped and worth the read. And I though it was a sign for me to start reading it, as well.
My experience with the book: Spoilers - not so great.
The book was told from 3 different perspectives. one was from 1st person perspective, the other one was from 2nd person and the 3rd from 3rd person perspective. Now, one would think that sounds interesting and in this book's case those were well written and executed it WOULD have been very cool, but sadly it wasn't. Before this book I only read one book from a 2nd person's pov and that was interesting, because the readers had no idea who was the narrator which made it mysterious. However, in this book we knew who the person was and it was very unnecessary to make it that way. Like what was the author trying to do or what was his point of doing so?
I even had to skip some chapters because of how bored i was with it. I didn't like any of the characters, not even a little bit. The plot was weird too, it had potential but wasn't done well.
The big question is: Am I going to read the last book of this duology? At the moment I still don't think so. There's a 2% chance (which isn't a lot) that I may in fact read the 2nd book, but I find it unlikely. I do feel a bit guilty and sad for not finishing a book series, but I'm going to go with my guts and do what I think the best for me is.
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . .
To those new to the crew, ye should know that horses were me first love before the sea stole me heart. So obviously the flaming horse cover drew me in. I have enjoyed this author's work in the past and I just had to read this.
Me favorite part of this book was of course the horses, known as phoenixes, in this particular world. Basically these horses were gifts from the gods, are powered by the sun, and last a day before bursting into flames and turning into ashes. The riders save the ashes and when they are set back out in the rising sun, the phoenix horse is reborn. Of course there be a catch. If ye mix certain chemicals into the ashes, the phoenix's properties can change. They can become faster, grow armor, etc. This phoenix magic was so very cool.
The plot involves a yearly competition called The Races. Eleven riders participate to see who will be champion. The winner receives fame and money. But the race is dangerous, sabotage is expected, and people have been known to die. The ashlords are the ruling elite and have the best chance of winning. But there are two other groups of people - the middle class Longhorns and the Dividians at the bottom.
This story has three points of view - racers from each of the three classes. Pippa is the daughter of two racing champions and belongs to the ashlords. She was born to win. Adrian is a Longhorn, a splinter branch of ashlords that doesn't worship the gods. Adrian is part of a group that be plotting rebellion and winning the race is part of the plot. And then there is Imelda, a Dividian, who has always dreamed of being in the Races but doesn't truly believe she will. Her goal is to spend as much time with the phoenixes as possible. One thing to note about the points of view are that they change tenses: third person, first person, second person present tense. It was a little odd at first but I got used to it.
This was a quick one setting read that I enjoyed overall. I loved Imelda from the beginning and found her choices in the race to be the most interesting. Pippa was a character that has fantastic development. I hated her in the beginning and she grew on me. Seriously, it was surprising. Adrian was the weak link for me and I didn't really like him much. I never got excited to read his POV. The other thing I really enjoyed were the gods and how they impacted the race. I would like to know more about them and how they work.
The main reason I only liked and didn't love this one was the ending of both the race and the book in general. How the race ended was a bit ridiculous. Seems to be a trend because taos lightning and the scorpio races had basically the same issues. As for the ending, well I didn't know it was part of a duology when I read it. The set-up for book two was rushed and the tone felt completely different from the rest of the book.
The author's endnotes discuss the changes made to the story from its initial inception. I wonder if the redirection led to the strange ending. I kinda wonder what the story would have been like if he had kept the original POV character. She was me favourite in the book and I was sad she was only a side character. I am not sure if I will like book two's rebellion (that I saw coming from the get-go) or the love interests that seem to be developing. But I will be reading it for more of the phoenixes cause they be awesome. Arrrrr!
This book has not only a magnificent cover but truly thrilling content as well! It gave me some hunger game vibes, it has politics, and an exciting and sometimes brutal and awesome horse race!
Despite this story not being the most perfectly executed one - there was more possible - this was nothing short of an addictive read. Everything I’ve read so far, was so interesting and it definitely left me craving more; more of this world and knowledge about it and more of these characters.
I’m already incredibly excited to get my hands on the 2nd installment so that one is definitely going to be pre-ordered whenever I’m able to. Can’t wait to see how this story is going to continue and develop some more.
I feel very violated that the book ended like that. How dare you. Uncalled for.
I loved all the POVs...like so much. The race was so exhilarating from all perspectives and I somehow I was rooting for them all. Tiny pieces of it reminded me of the Lunar Chronicles which just gave me so much nostalgia.
4.25 stars. After reading and loving this author's first series, Nyxia, I knew I'd need more from him. Ashlords was exactly what I was waiting for! This book centers around horses called Phoenixes that die each night in a burst of flames and are raised from their ashes each morning using alchemy and magic. The alchemists choose what strengths and features their horse will have based on the chemicals used.
It's such a unique premise and I loved it. Ashlords is The Scorpio Races meets The Hunger Games meets Hidalgo.
There's a major race every year and this year Pippa, Adrian, and Imelda are 3 of the riders. Each teen comes from a different background and the story is told from their alternating points of view. The race is grueling, and extremely dangerous, especially since the racers try to knock each other out of the competition.
What I really liked was the YouTubing aspect and how 2 of the protagonists film everything for the fans. The race itself is also live reality TV similar to The Hunger Games.
This book kept me up late into the night and now I can't wait for the sequel!!
*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Random House Childrens for the advance copy!*
Ashlords has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2020. The first and foremost reason, which I think is obvious if you know me, is that it’s about phoenix horses.The first half of the story was great. There is quite a lot of world building, history given, political dynamics unraveled, and “rules of the game” explained. It was the second-half where this plot-line lost my interest as it became solely focused on the political maneuverings.
Several details in Ashlords mirror plot points in The Hunger Games: a glitzy competition full of brutality (minus murder even though death happens) publicized over live television, romantic twists, betrayal, the underdog trope, etc. I think a lot of YA dystopias follow similar paths no matter what. Overall, this story contains some very unique details. Phoenix horses, alchemy, unique mythology/deities, definitely add a freshness to a story-line that has been done many times over.
Ashlords is told by three different characters. Each character is from a very different station, and do well when giving insight into their beliefs, viewpoints, and stances on life. Imelda is a Dividian. Few Dividian ever make it to the races. Through her alchemy skills and social media maneuvering, she lands an unlikely spot in the race. Pippa is from an entirely different world. Born into a wealthy Ashlord family, she is favored to win. Both of her parents were winners of the race, and she isn’t about to let them down. The final viewpoint is told from Adrian. A “Longhand,” he represents the previously failed rebellion against the Ashlords. Their previous failure doesn’t stop his father’s pursuit in overthrowing the Ashlords, and is his reason for running the race.
While I genuinely appreciated several unique points of this plot, there were a few things that I didn’t like so much. One was the changing POV voices. I don’t mind stories told by multiple characters. It’s not my favorite, but I’m fine with it. What is different about Ashlords is that the voice of the POV changes from third to second, but only for Pippa’s voice. I’m not sure, but I’m hoping that singling out Pippa for this POV has a reason and not just a choice of style. If it has a reason, it has the potential to be a clever technique utilized by the author. If not, it’s just a confusing addition to the narrative.
Secondly, where are the phoenix horses? I was really hoping that this special horse would take front and center when it came to this story. Maybe I’m being too critical here, but I’m a horse-lover, and am dying for some solid horse representation in YA! What was offered here was motivational for the plot, but didn’t give anything extra for the reader. What was necessary was told, but those (many, I imagine) embellishments of the phoenix horses didn’t exist. They were more robotic, than anything. Horses have just as much character as humans do, so I was hoping for them to also be more individually characterized than they were.
The writer is undoubtedly very talented. Certainly, many readers will connect with these characters. For my personal tastes, I didn’t care for how the plot shifted focus. I’m getting the feeling at my medial reaction to this story is a hint that I need to take a long break from dystopia-style plots, because they just aren’t grabbing me much anymore. Perhaps, at a different time in my reading “career,” I would feel differently about how this plot strikes me. I think Ashlords offers a unique world, but I didn’t connect with the characters much at all, and therefore, lost my focus.
Vulgarity: Minimal. Sexual content: Minimal. Violence: Moderate. (See Content Warning.)
Meh. Not what I expected and a long way from what I hoped for.
I feel like the blurb on the back tells a completely different story than what I actually read but since this seems to be a duology, some of the aspects described in the blurb might find their way into the sequel? I still don't know how to feel about this because I think if you describe what the book is about or what will happen in the book then it should also happen in the book, you know what I mean?
Also, the writing style was a big turn off for me. It felt clunky at times and didn't read fluently in my opinion. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to writing is short sentences. I hate them. I hate when there are five or more 4-word sentences in a row. Unfortunately this book had a lot of them. And I mean, a lot. There was also an overall lack of description. There were descriptions, don't get me wrong, but just not enough and also the things I was really looking forward to, i.e. the horses and the race, were so... bland? I was hoping for some cool descriptions of the Phoenixes and whatnot but there were only a few times I was actually told what they looked like..
The story itself was again not really what I thought/hoped it would be and this might be the biggest disappointment for me. I was looking forward to reading this book for months and when you ultimately don't enjoy it? Bummer.
I still think I'm going to read the sequel but I am definitely disappointed by one of my most anticipated book of the year.
No spoilers in this rapid review of Ashlords.I liked it and give it 3.5 stars. This is the first of Scott Reintgen’s book I’ve read, and it won’t be my last. He has a fresh, straightforward style that I appreciate, and both his plot and characters were intriguing.
Ashlords follows three teens preparing to ride in The Races, an annual event that pits different cultures within the empire against each other in an attempt to replace warfare. Entrants participate in a multi-day event riding phoenix horses, which, as the name suggests, combust each night and then rise from the ashes the next morning. The three riders featured in the book are from very different backgrounds and have diverse goals for competing in The Races.
Pippa is the favorite. Her family has a history of winning The Races, and her parents’ expectations are that she’ll do the same. Adrian is the son of a revolutionary and the prize of his people. He’s strong, well trained, and confident, the perfect combination to upset the favorite and win the race. Imelda, who entered The Races on scholarship, is perhaps the least likely to win. She’s a decent rider but is not trained in combat, which might be necessary if she encounters a fellow competitor as she rides. Her skill lies in the alchemy of the event, devising just the right compound to mix with her horse’s ashes to get the perfect beast when it rises the next morning.
Ashlords has a Hunger Games vibe as these competitors from different areas of the empire come together to prep and train for The Race. They ultimately compete against each other in a televised spectacle. There can only be one winner, of course, and that person is crowned Champion, receiving the acclaim glory that goes along with the title. The stark difference from the Hunger Games is that murder is not allowed in The Races. Racers can scheme and fight, but anyone who kills a fellow competitor is disqualified.
Reintgen spent a surprising amount of time in the build-up to The Race, but I enjoyed getting to know the characters and their motivations before the competition began. The most exciting part of the book, of course, was when the event commenced and the action truly began. Betrayals occurred and unlikely alliances formed. These alliances were my favorite part of the story. I kept asking myself: Can Pippa, Adrian, and Imelda place their trust in the new friends they’ve each found during The Race?
I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again. So many of the YA books these days stray to the very mature side of the spectrum. I’m happy to say that Ashlords felt like true YA in its themes and style. I recommend this book to fans of the Hunger Games series as well as The Scorpio Races, another book about horse races (one that I HIGHLY recommend, by the way).
Read all of our reviews here. Check out our full book recaps here.
This book caught my eye because, honestly, any book that is compared to Scorpio Races is going to be one that I just have to read. I loved that story! Luckily, Ashlords did not disappoint. It was an imaginative fantasy and I loved the inclusion of the phoenix horses. I also appreciated that the alchemy involved with the resurrections of the horses was complicated and at the same time fallible. It made every resurrection a bit of a nail biter because there was never any guarantee that things were going to go right for the rider. In addition to a fierce competition, Ashlords was also about an empire that was on the cusp of a revolution, filled with corruption, and had an underworld filled with blood and fire.
There are three main competitors in this story: Imelda Beru – a Dividian, Adrian Ford – a Longhand cowboy, and Pippa – an Ashlord. They come from three different walks of life and the story is told through their alternating viewpoints. There is much riding on this competition for these riders and it is more than the simple desire to win. The competition itself is brutal and it is every rider for themselves. Alliances are made and alliances are broken. There are some rules and the entire competition is monitored, except for certain areas, but there is a lot of room for bringing other competitors low. The race is available to watch for anyone outside of the competitors, so they want to be entertained, and seeing a rider fail or encounter challenges gives a better viewing experience. You can imagine how intense this competition can get. It is one wild ride for the reader.
Ashlords is a wonderful reading experience with an imaginative world that really grabbed my interest, although it took a little time for me to fully immerse myself in. What initially threw me off was that this is a fantasy world with gods, spirits, and alchemy but they have their version of YouTube? I was not expecting that. They also have wristlets that keep the riders appraised of standings, hmmmm, this is a fantasy world but it shares much with our contemporary world and that took some getting used to. I was expecting a 100% fantasy setting not a dystopian blend. I am not saying that it was bad, just a bit of a surprise. Also, the voices of the characters are voiced differently, first, second, and third person, an unusual choice in my mind. Overall, Ashlords was a story that kept me on the edge of my seat. The pacing was fast and the ending will have you eagerly anticipating the sequel!
This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
This fantasy gets off to a somewhat slow start, which surprised me a bit after the Nyxia stories' 0-80 speed bang out the gate. But this is also a more complicated world, and a more complicated story being set up.
We've got three POVs, each written in a different style. Reintgen does a fabulous job establishing the three voices through the first half; I noticed that, in spite of the stylistic difference (third person, first person, second person present tense) the voices began to sound the same, causing me sometimes to look back to see who we were with, as the race began in the second half. But I think the adrenaline rush of the brutal race explains the intense focus of the characters, who not only have to win, but to survive.
The worldbuilding, in particular, the horse/phoenixes, is marvelously realized. The Ashlord gods I don't think are computers or robots, as so many fantasies have opted for, but something genuinely weird. (I could be wrong about that. We only learn about them through our young protagonists' eyes as they prep for the race, then embark. Lots of potentially intriguing questions there.) Altogether an involving world and a story that--once it gets going--slams home at mach speed, as the world erupts into war.
"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!!
I requested an e-galley of Ashlords from the publisher without reading the synopsis. It had a fiery horse on the cover and the most important part Scott Reintgen was the author. So it was automatic request due to author.
I was not disappointed one bit. This book follows three main characters Imelda (a Dividian), Adrian (a Longhand), and Pippa (an Ashlord, the favorite) as they prepare for and compete in a race. The Dividians are basically the lowest caste, they make less money, they are governed by Ashlords, etc. Imelda is chosen as a qualifier for the race because she cannot afford the entry fee herself. The Longhands are basically middle caste and dislike being pushed down by Ashlords. And the Ashlords are the ruling and richest caste. Adrian is in the race in hopes of starting a revolution for his people. Imelda just wants to actually win. And Pippa was born and bred to win the race.
They ride Phoenix horses and the components they use to rebirth the horses each morning help create the horse and their strengths, which is the coolest thing I've ever heard of and my favorite part of the book.
Not only does this story include freaking PHOENIX HORSES! But it also includes betrayal, revolution, deceit, and a TON of action. Like I could barely put the book down the entire second half. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Wow, I freaking loved this!!! From the introduction at the beginning, I was hooked on this story. I love competitions and the world building in this was so well done. The mash up of magic and technology was interesting and the phoenix horses were awesome. We meet three main characters in this book: Imelda, the poor Dividian who is a phenomenal alchemist and gets to the races on scholarship; Adrian, a Longhand looking to spark an uprising against the ruling Ashlords; and Pippa, one of those Ashlords who's a legacy rider and shoe in to win the races. The rotating points of view gave us a good understanding of the world and helped keep the plot moving. Entertaining, fun, and exciting, I enjoyed every page of this and I am so excited to see where the story goes in the next book!
Autor prostě opět nezklamal. Neskutečně čtivá, napínavá a originální fantasy, která trochu připomíná svět Hunger Games. (A to chcete.) 😄 Na konci knihy budete rychlostí blesku, i když si budete přát, aby měla ještě několik stránek navíc. 👌🏼
There was a lot going on in this book. The phoenix horses die every night and arise with the sun, and different chemical components change the horses as well. The country is complex and divided with the Ashlords and their gods ruling (and maybe not outwardly oppressing, but oppressing nonetheless) two conquered groups. And then there is the annual phoenix race, which is a combination of creativity, riding skill, fighting skill, and strategy.
The story is told in three points of view. First is Imelda, the alchemist, whose creativity is famous. However, she is a Dividian, and has none of the advantages of the other groups of people, and no money to enter the race. Adrian is a Longhand (Ashlords who don't worship the gods) and is the most physically strong competitor. And finally there is Pippa, who is the daughter of two returning champions and the favorite to win. She surprisingly turned out to be my favorite too, although I really liked all three.
I enjoyed this book a lot! But I don't want a phoenix...kind of.