Ember and Ash – Pamela Freeman

It’s been a little while since I’ve read any fantasy from the ‘sword and sorcery’ school. I think I burnt out on it awhile ago, but this novel has renewed my faith.

Release Date: 1st May 2011
Released By: Orbit

The old ones will have their revenge.

Two peoples have been fighting over the same land for a thousand years. Invaders crushed the original inhabitants, and ancient powers have reluctantly given way to newer magics. But Ember was to change all this with a wedding to bind these warring people together – until her future goes up in flames.

Ember’s husband-to-be is murdered by a vengeful elemental god, who sees peace as a breach of faith. Set on retribution, she enlists the help of Ash, son of a seer. Together they will pit themselves against elementals of fire and ice in a last attempt to end the conflicts that have scarred their past. They must look to the present, as old furies are waking to violence and are eager to reclaim their people.

I have always been a sucker for the elements. It’s one of the reasons I decided to request this book for review. That said, I think that they have been done to death in some ways and I was a little worried about that going in. Thankfully, I needn’t have wasted the energy, because for me, the way the elements have been utilized in this story were refreshing and riveting.

Freeman paints a lush and wondrous world in her book, full of a variety of peoples with rich histories and beliefs. I could get lost in it so easily, and did in fact, charging through this book at lightening pace. I think the world building was pretty phenomenal, and loved the way the elements played into each group, and their beliefs.

I also particularly enjoyed the layers of political/social/religious belief in the story. The main characters come from a background of two peoples, one of which has been subsumed by the other. They have taken some of their beliefs underground, as they are forbidden to share certain knowledge with non Travelers, and this influences heavily on the plot of the novel.

There were an assortment of characters in the book, who all remained true to themselves throughout the novel. Ember is feisty, and marked by the element of Fire, and Ash by Air. They are cousins, but not by blood. Throughout the novel they are drawn closer together; it’s a subtle kind of romance. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I was really satisfied with how their interactions played out throughout the novel, though I am sure some will not be.

The secondary characters were all interesting as well, each having their own driving motivations and story lines that were also fulfilled throughout the novel. I particularly enjoyed Cedar’s storyline, and the way his character grew – I loved that I could imagine and daydream about these characters lives beyond the novel.

I could spend a lot more time in this world, so will be interested to see whether the author revisits it with other characters and stories. If you love fantasy, magic, escaping the real world, and just good stories in general, you should definitely check this out. I give it a 4 star rating.

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