king of ashes

4 stars

I am a huge fan of Raymond Feist and he does not disappoint in this new epic fantasy about the journey of two young orphans, one raised by a group of assassins and spies, and another by a master swordsmith, to learn their fate and the fate of the world on which they live.

Five great kingdoms on the twin continents of North and South Tembria have lived in relative peace for centuries, until one rogue king convinces the other three to betray the fifth, Ithrace. Ithrace, known as the Kingdom of Flames, is ruled by Steveren Langene, known as “the Firemane” for his brilliant red hair. The entire Kingdom is razed to the ground, and every member of the royal family is killed – or so everyone thinks. After the battle forever known as “The Betrayal”, Lord Baron Daylon Dumarch finds a child hidden in his tent.

Realizing that the boy must be the remaining heir of the slain King Steveren, Daylon sends him away to be raised on the island of Coaltachin, known as the Kingdom of Night. He bids the lethal force of legendary assassins and spies to raise the boy as their own. The boy, known as Hatu, learns all the skills of an assassin and spy, but when a mission goes terribly wrong, the life he thought he would be living is thrown into chaos.

Years later, another orphan named Declan earns his Masters rank as a weapons smith in a small section of the continent known as the Covenant. It’s been a protected part of the continents for centuries, but that peace is coming to an end. Declan is smart and capable and must use all of his skills to save his life when he is forced to leave the only home he’s ever known. He lands in Daylon’s provinces and starts his life anew. But with the continents in unrest and mysterious forces making their moves, Declan’s life takes another unexpected turn for the worst.

I could not put this book down. The story grabbed me right from the beginning and didn’t let up until the climatic cliffhanger. As usual, the worldbuilding is effortlessly done. Rather than providing a massive info dump at the start of the book, which bores most people and makes them want to stop reading, Feist masterly weaves each piece of information into the story at the necessary time. Just when you start to wonder about something, the author provides you with the context you need. The character development of the two main characters, Hatu and Declan, is fantastic. Secondary characters Hava, Donte and Daylon also have a fair amount of character development. Most of the ancillary characters simply react to the main characters, but they are still entertaining to read.

The story starts off with a bang at the end of “The Betrayal” and doesn’t let up. Even when we follow Hatu throughout his training, the story doesn’t slow too much. Luckily we are spared the very early years, and start off when he is about 15 or 16. Overall, the story is well paced, with the action increasing toward the end. There are plenty of mysterious tidbits sprinkled throughout the book to tease the reader about what is to come in future books.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next book in this series. If you like epic fantasies with swords, horses, fighting, betrayals, a touch of magic and a skosh of romance, this is the book for you.

Buy It:


Barnes & Noble

Mysterious Galaxy (independent book story)