Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler ★★★★
"The door swung closed, and only dim light came in through the curtained windows. Maya opened her hand and tugged another tiny strand of deiat, conjuring a cool flame that danced blue-white across her fingers."
I received this e-book from NetGalley. This does not affect my review or opinion. All thoughts are my own and I'm being 100 percent honest. Thank you to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for providing me this e-book for reviewing purposes.
Netflix should pick Django Wexler's latest novel 'Ashes of the Sun' up and make it into a series
Ashes of the Sun is the first installment in an adventurous epic fantasy trilogy. With an intriguing plot and phenomenal world-building, Wexler grabs the reader's attention from the very first page until the last. A slow-burn f/f romance, gooey monsters, and ancient beings all contribute to an original fantasy hit.
Gyre hasn't seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre's sole focus is revenge, and he's willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.
Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn't who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order's cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.
I want to begin this review with a shout out to the artist that designed this cover. If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I find covers very important. I like a pretty cover, and boy does Ashes of the Sun have a pretty cover. It is truly breathtaking and the more you look at it, the more details you see and love it even more. I do feel like someone's missing on the cover. The story is written in two point of views, Gyre's and Maya's who are brother and sister and equally important, but I only see Gyre on this cover. I don't know why they chose this. Nonetheless, this cover is stunning and I can't wait to see what the cover for the second book looks like!
Ashes of the Sun has quite an intriguing plot. I wouldn't call it completely new but that doesn't bother me that much. While the concept isn't new, the author adds so many interesting and original elements to this novel that it feels like a refreshing and innovative read. As I said, Ashes of the Sun is written in two point of views. Gyre and Maya are each on their own path and each has their own quests to embark on. However, their fates are tied together by a civil war that's looming and the siblings are bound to meet. Ashes of the Sun has a total of three plots which make for an action-packed read. This isn't a good versus evil kind of book. I feel like everyone gives their own interpretation of the situation and that's what's so great about reading. There is no exclusively good or bad side, it is up to the reader to 'pick' a side based on their thoughts.
The magic system is very fascinating. Ashes of the Sun takes place in an apocalyptic fantasy world in which there is magic but also technology. I loved the mix of these two elements in a fantasy novel. I also feel like the siblings each took a side, Maya siding with the magic and Gyre with the technology. The magic used in Ashes of the Sun is called deiat and can be summoned by Centarchs. They summon the magic through a sword or better said the hilt of a sword, called a haken. I imagine it looks like a fantasy-inspired lightsaber, which is very cool. Deiat comes in different forms and our main character Maya possesses it in the form of fire.
“The Twilight Order defends the Dawn Republic. That’s how it’s always been. But they defend us like a suit of iron armor. It might stop a knife, but it weighs you down until you can barely move.”
Wexler's use of special terms doesn't end with deiat. While reading the book you come across terms like ghouls, cognomen, dhakim, the Chosen, and more. It took me a while to fully understand what each word meant. I think I understood everything when I was about 300 pages in, or at least I think I got everything. The author created a whole new world that took some time to get used to. I did read afterward in some reviews that there is supposed to be a glossary at the back of the novel. I did not get one with my arc so I couldn't look at it when reading. If I would've had a glossary my rating would probably have been higher. The fact that I did not understand a lot of these words or didn't know who the Auxiliaries or Dhakim were made me enjoy Ashes of the Sun a little less.
The main characters, Gyre and Maya, were fun to follow. I did have a preference for Maya. I feel like her path and purpose were more clear than those of her brother. I did like the whole antihero role Gyre played in Ashes of the Sun but sometimes I feel like his purpose was a bit 'bland', if that's the right word for it. His quest is to destroy the Order, but he never thought of what would happen after he accomplished his goal.
There is a wonderful f/f slow-burn romance in Ashes of the Sun and I am living for it. This cute sapphic couple was amazing and I would love to read a novella just about them. However, I would have liked some more conversations between the two characters. I feel like they don't really get to know one another enough.
The world-building was phenomenal, as you would expect from a fantasy novel. Ashes of the Sun has a lot of interesting landscapes, sometimes full of monsters. I loved that Wexler chose to regularly change the scenery. You have everything in this book. From mountains and villages to underground tunnels and bathhouses.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, definitely. As you can read from the title of this post, I would love for this book to become a series. Ashes of the Sun is a refreshing read. If you're a huge fantasy fan, this novel is definitely worth checking out.
Blood, death, murder
Representation in this book
LGBTQIA+ representation, lesbian main character, POC side character
Adult, science fiction
Head of Zeus
Django Wexler is the author of flintlock fantasy series The Shadow Campaigns, middle-grade fantasy The Forbidden Library, and YA fantasy The Wells of Sorcery. His latest is epic fantasy Ashes of the Sun. In his former life as a software engineer, he worked on AI research and programming languages. He currently lives near Seattle with his wife, two cats, and a teetering mountain of books. When not writing, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.