Title & Author: Memories of Ash (The Sunbolt Chronicles Book 2), Intisar Khanani
Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy, May 30, 2016
Book Description: “In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.
If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
Memories of Ash is the highly anticipated sequel to Sunbolt, Book 1 of The Sunbolt Chronicles.”
First Line: CRACK. I glance up, holding tight to the thread of my spell as the mountains throw a thunderous echo back to us.
My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.
Once again we are plunged into Hitomi’s story with a disturbance right from the beginning. When her mentor is arrested on charges trumped up by Blackflame, the evil mage from book one, she knows she can’t stand idly by while her friend is sentenced to an ugly fate. This isn’t a decision made lightly given what happened to her the last time she had a run-in with the guy, and her rescue plan, if unsuccessful, could lead to an agonizing end for her. But this is Hitomi, courageous and self-sacrificing girl. Even though her memories burned away, that instinct to protect others persists within her. Some things are immune to fire.
The fantasy world introduced in the novella Sunbolt is greatly extended here in this full length novel. Hitomi’s journey takes her across many landscapes with different cultures, languages, and history. The writing efficiently immerses us in these wonderful aspects of the world with great detail while at the same time keeping the action and tension high. And another thing I simply must point out: Many books often have the main protagonist outshine the rest of the players in the story in both deeds and personality, but this author extends those admirable attributes to other characters as well, even those who stand in opposition to Hitomi’s goals. I understand their motivations and their logic is sound. I find myself respecting them. Now that’s good writing.
At its heart, I found this to be a story about friendship and honor. Honor — not to be confused with pride — is that compass within oneself that tethers action to what is right, rather than what is easy. It’s ethics and integrity adhered to regardless of grave consequences. And oh, there are consequences to Hitomi’s actions, righteous as they are. How I love and admire this character who even strives to spare the lives of her adversaries, solid in her belief that no life should be thrown away. Some enemies are there because of circumstance, not malice, and Hitomi recognizes this, recognizes that their lives still have worth despite the good intention of her own quest. Honor. She makes it beautiful.
The Magical: Well, aside from Hitomi, my favorite character continues to be Val, the breather from book one. The friendship growing between him and Hitomi is so enjoyable to read. Their interactions are so real. They disagree at turns and don’t always comprehend the way the other thinks, but there’s respect and trust there, a fondness that I hope to see more of in future installments.
The Mundane: I would’ve liked to know more about Blackflame, the central antagonist. Who is he? Why is he doing what he’s doing? Every other character is this story has incredible depth but he wasn’t drawn out too much. I know there’s more to him than the obvious exterior so I’m dying for a glimpse into that. This is something that occurred to me on reflection though. During the read I was too excited by the events to notice.
Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $3.99 on Amazon. It’s an amazing read that I just can’t recommend highly enough! I do think this series should be read in order to fully appreciate the events in book two, so if you haven’t read book one Sunbolt (available on Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Paperback) pick it up ASAP. Memories of Ash is thought provoking, evocative, and full of action and emotion in a fantasy world like none other. Want a story that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book? This is it.
Many thanks to author Intisar Khanani for providing a copy of the book to review!
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Want to know more about this author and her work? Explore her website here
Intisar was also interviewed on Amid the Imaginary! Click here to read it!