A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.
Ruling families – once protectors of justice and democracy – now plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives. Blinded by ambition, they remain heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.
Yet as Tessia Falls, heroes rise.
Legacy of Ash … well, now, wasn’t that quite the read?
It’s safe to say that I haven’t read anything quite so unputdownable this year. Not in the sense that I read it all in one go, life got in the way of that, and the hardback is quite heavy. But in the sense that I thought about this book in between reading it, wondered about the characters, despaired as I started to run out of pages to read, and speculated about how, what, why, and more importantly, when will the next instalment come out?
This novel follows multiple points of view, from the badass, yet flawed, claymore wielding hero, the assassin, the soldier, the crooked politician and so on (well that’s what I knew them as, and there are many more than that). Ward’s first skill, or so I thought, is at how he handles multiple POVs in one chapter, that reads like a seamless scene. In the large scale battles, you might see it from four points of view, all coming one after the other, some fighting each other, and yet not once did I feel overwhelmed; the second great thing about this book are the battle scenes. The first adventure is when Empire and Republic are pitted against each other, tensions mounting, and of course, it can only end in a battle. Ward has a particular skill in writing large-scale battle scenes in which you have cool, magically badassery on a small scale – for instance a duel – but at the same time, you know, feel and see that there’s a war raging around them.
The prose was of particular merit. It was delightful, vivacious and sophisticated, but also blunt. To the point. There wasn’t a scene in this book in which I couldn’t vividly picture what was going on – there’s no expense spared in word usage here, neither is there any wastage. Each character has a clear voice, which is rebuffed by the history and culture they’ve grown up around – the worldbuilding is tied nicely into the thoughts, words and very soul of each character.
More on the worldbuilding – I saw Ward himself say that he wrote this as a story that fits within a lived history, just one point in a rich timeline – to which I agree; he has been very effective at making this world feel real. It could have easily started just before, after of years ago. There’s many tales to be told. I especially like the worldbuilding from this stance, where it had the feel of drip-fed history, rather than force-fed worldbuilding. It took the stance that we knew the histories and didn’t have to overexplain as this came naturally. Masterfully.
My favourite part of the novel is its setting in time – it comes after the hero of prophecy has been and gone, and died. And that’s what made this shine, I don’t think any fantasy I’ve read to date has knowingly acknowledged that its prophesied hero is long gone, and the gods have took their feet off, and its all just a bit glum. All a bit human. Which is the marvellous thing about it.
If you’re thinking about buying this, don’t think. Buy it! I’m honestly sad as I type this that I’ve finished the book and will have to wait a while before the next one is out. But I can’t wait!
Check it out: