Book Review: REALM OF ASH by Tasha Suri

Title in white against a mottled blue background
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
Series: Yes - book 2

*SPOILER ALERT: may contain SPOILER for EMPIRE OF SAND*

Synopsis:

Cover for REALM OF ASH: A carved spearhead against a blue background

The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors’ dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price.

Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she’s pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves.

Together, they’ll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they’ve ever believed…including whether the Empire is worth saving at all.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

REALM OF ASH is as stunningly written as the first book in the series (EMPIRE OF SAND). The world is vividly painted with such evocative language, the words lyrical and poignant.

This books handles grief in a wonderful way, showing a wide range of grief through the many widows central to the story. Loss isn’t shown as the end, or the beginning of everything, and everyone is coping in different ways. They have purpose, but not all want the world. Some want their small corner of the world others want to reshape the whole world. I also appreciated that romantic love isn’t the answer, isn’t what they’re searching for. The important love is that of friendship and sisterhood.

The community of women was brilliant, women on the edge of society because of their loss. I loved how they came together to help one another, providing friendship and assistance. But there are also women with ambition, who use their minds to outwit and manoeuvre the others – men and women – around them.

It’s so rare, in my experience, to find a fantasy book that focuses around grief, showing its many forms. While grief has a major impact on all the characters, it doesn’t define them, which was so powerful. This is usually the sort of topic and focus on contemporary fiction, but I loved seeing it and glad to see it’s becoming more common.

Tasha Suri has described Zahir as “a cinnamon roll”, and he is. He’s broody but so vulnerable, but not in an annoying way. He doesn’t do it for power, but to contain his hurt.

Unlike the previous book, this only follows Arwa. There are no cutaways to someone else, which really helps keep the focus. Mehr doesn’t appear until the very end, as this isn’t her book, but there are still hints about her life.

The ending, while concluding the immediate goals, left questions hanging – and a major question. I’m really hoping there’s another book coming.


Read my reviews of other book by Tasha Suri:

The Books of Ambha (this series):

The Burning Kingdoms:

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