Thursday, April 2, 2020

Review: King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist

King of Ashes (Firemane Saga, Book #1)
by Raymond E. Feist
Release Date: May 8th 2018
2018 Harper Voyage
Kindle Edition; 499 Pages
ISBN: 978-0061468452
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

For centuries, the five greatest kingdoms of North and South Tembria, twin continents on the world of Garn, have coexisted in peace. But the balance of power is destroyed when four of the kingdoms violate an ancient covenant and betray the fifth: Ithrace, the Kingdom of Flames, ruled by Steveren Langene, known as "the Firemane" for his brilliant red hair. As war engulfs the world, Ithrace is destroyed and the Greater Realms of Tembria are thrust into a dangerous struggle for supremacy.
As a Free Lord, Baron Daylon Dumarch owes allegiance to no king. When an abandoned infant is found hidden in Daylon’s pavilion, he realizes that the child must be the missing heir of the slain Steveren. The boy is valuable—and vulnerable. A cunning and patient man, Daylon decides to keep the baby’s existence secret, and sends him to be raised on the Island of Coaltachin, home of the so-called Kingdom of Night, where the powerful and lethal Nocusara, the "Hidden Warriors," legendary assassins and spies, are trained.

Years later, another orphan of mysterious provenance, a young man named Declan, earns his Masters rank as a weapons smith. Blessed with intelligence and skill, he unlocks the secret to forging King’s Steel, the apex of a weapon maker’s trade known by very few. Yet this precious knowledge is also deadly, and Declan is forced to leave his home to safeguard his life. Landing in Lord Daylon’s provinces, he hopes to start anew.

Soon, the two young men—an unknowing rightful heir to a throne and a brilliantly talented young swordsmith—will discover that their fates, and that of Garn, are entwined. The legendary, long-ago War of Betrayal has never truly ended . . . and they must discover the secret of who truly threatens their world.

My Thoughts
King of Ashes is the first book in a new saga by Feist and to say I was looking forward to this book is an understatement.  I have been reading his books since I was 14 years old, and to see something published that is separate from the Riftwar Saga is quite exciting.  It reminded me of the first time I read Magician; new characters, new worlds, new developments, new magic systems, and so on. It was exactly what I expected from this author.

This story focuses on Hatu and Declan, both from very different worlds, but you realize very quickly their worlds are destined to join, the question is more how and why.  After a very explosive first chapter, which leads me to believe there will be a lot of this in future books, things kind of settled down and Feist does what he does so well, builds up his characters and his worlds.  Hatu is an orphan being raised by a legendary group of assassins whose very mystery keeps people in check and afraid, while Declan, also an orphan, is being raised by a legendary swordmaster, former slave of a Baron who played a pivotal role in the destruction of one of the Five Kingdoms.  Hatu trains to be one of those legendary assassins but never feels like he fits in anywhere, and constantly deals with anger issues that he doesn't understand and has difficulty controlling.  One of the things I love about the Feist book is his imaginative magic systems, so I can't wait to see what will come of Hatu as he learns more about the 'fire' that burns within him; in this book we were only given hints and suggestions, but no answers, so I am really curious as to what will happen.

Feist definitely demonstrates his mastery of world-building through clever story intrigue as his characters sail around the world, or move from city to city.  Just when I thought I was in for more introspection, suddenly something would happen and it would catch me off guard.  You get a pretty good idea of the political culture and tensions surrounding a lot of these Kingdoms, churches, and baronies, which will probably play a huge role in future books.  I've learned never to underestimate anything that Feist does in any of this books; there is usually a reason he points out something to the reader which may not necessarily be apparent at that moment.  I am also appreciative of the fact that, so far, there are no elves or dwarves, in this book, the standard fantasy trope.  Don't get me wrong, I loved his use of those fantasy elements in his previous works but it is nice to see something different in this book. That there will be fantastical elements is no doubt, they are just hinted at for the moment.

King of Ashes did a great job introducing new characters and new worlds to its readers, and it definitely set up something big to come.  Except for the first chapter, there are no great battles or anti-climatic endings, but you could feel the tension easing through the pages as the main characters dealt with issues and you can feel the tension building up through the chapters.  I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in this saga, Queen of Storms, when it is released on July 20th.


  1. sounds like it laid a lot of groundwork for the next one.
    sherry @ fundinmental