A pair of interesting, promising series openers. 3/5 stars each.
Blurbs at the bottom of this review. Or click on the individual book covers below to go to Goodreads.
I read these two books back-to-back and had pretty much the opposite experience with each.
Until the last movement, An Ember in the Ashes is more an endurance test than an enjoyable read. The world Tahir creates is brutal and unyielding. In case we’re ever in any doubt of this, when we’re not being shown violence taking place, oh my goodness are we told about it. Far too much telling us about cruelty and nastiness which we could have skipped. And I could also have done without the repeated casual references to rape to reinforce this point (rape is also used, unnecessarily, a few times as a plot device).
For me, An Ember in the Ashes only grabbed me in the last 20%, when the author must have decided she’d done enough to get over the point that her world is a nasty, harsh place, and allowed her the characters to finally act on their own initiative rather than be pushed about by others/fate. The upside to this is that the ending sets us up nicely for more exciting developments in the next installment of the series.