My Rating ~ Five Stars
RELEASE DATE: 21 January 2020
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they’ve raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That’s all legal and encouraged.
In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?
I rarely have time to write reviews for the books I buy (and are not ARC’s sent by publishers) anymore, but sometimes you find one you just HAVE to review!
When I read the synopsis for Ashlords and it mentioned The Scorpio Races, I admit I was scared. The Scorpio Races is one of my absolute favourite books, so I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations – but it did. Is the vibe of the book the same as The Scorpio Races? No, not really. But it had an incredible vibe all of its own!
Ashlords is told from multiple points of view – a girl known as The Alchemist, who has been practicing some incredible things when it comes to raising Phoenix Horses, but is not one of the elite riders who are chosen for the races, The favourite for the races this year – a beautiful influencer who’s parents were champion racers themselves; and a warrior of a man who’s family are at war with the elite Ashlords of the racing world. I loved every one of the different stories going on in this book. The world building at the start of the book was a little confusing and I felt like I needed some background information that wasn’t there, but it was all revealed along the way and I caught up easily.
The phoenix horses themselves were everything I ever hoped for. With the riders having to ‘put them down’ every night and mix complicated chemical compounds to raise them again at first light (each compound giving their horse different magical abilities or physical attributes that might help them in the race) the magic system was fascinating. The races themselves are a gruesome sport, with riders encouraged to hinder the others as much as possible along the way (as long as they don’t resort to outright murder).
Ashlords is a fantastic book reminiscent of both The Hunger Games and The Scorpio Races that I’d highly recommend you give a try! It appears to be a duology, which I am incredibly excited about!
Photo from my Instagram account