Five stars:

 

Ceridwen dares her beloved brother to do the same dangerous thing she has already done. The result is catastrophic and heart-breaking. Even though she is now the heir of the kingdom, her father the king brands and exiles her. Forever more, she will wear the scar of a shameful blood debt on her forehead.

 

The reader is instantly drawn into the story and character of Ceridwen. She does what she must, no matter the cost to her. Even though she has plenty of reasons to lie down and die, she chooses to protect her people.

 

Ceridwen takes her horse with her to join the Rangers. What a horse! Mindar is described thusly. “Sparks rained from his mane and were trampled beneath his hooves. When he was not flaming, his coat gleamed bright copper in the sunlight, his mane and tail shimmered with strands of red, gold, and deep umber.” The horse can breathe fire during battle. There are plenty of battles for Mindar to engage in as raiders and other countries struggle to take what is not theirs.

 

Finnian is partnered with Ceridwen on patrols. His is a shadow horse, one that can move in silence and disappear in shadow. Finnian uses that ability for stealth attacks and scouting. Tall, lanky, and taciturn, he takes what comes and does not complain.

 

The third main character is Rafi, a young man who has his own shame to hide. He nestles into a tiny fishing village under a different name. He fears sea-demons and scadtha, massive amphibians shaped somewhat like centipedes with venomous pincers.

 

The fourth main character is Jakim, (epic story, epic cast) a kind young man whose entire body is covered in Scripture tattoos. He serves the God Aodh (pronounced something like Ay) Bearer of the Eternal Scars. People follow a number of gods with different attributes, but it is Aodh that is obviously symbolic of Jesus Christ. Jakim has his own secret that he is willing to die for.

 

All the characters and kingdoms are interesting and easily distinguishable, with clear motives. The writing is easy to follow, even though it is often lyrical. Consider this depiction of a fisherman, “Torva was awake, sitting up in his hammock with his calloused feet dangling above the floor. His dark skin was seamed and wrinkled like the hide of a shelled turtle. He looked like he had lived more lifetimes than all the other inhabitants of the village of Zorrad put together.”

 

Whether desert, mountain top, or jungle shore, the world is beautifully portrayed. A reader might be tempted to live in such a world if it weren’t so busy with betrayal, ambition, scheming, dangerous secrets, and invasions.

A reader might be tempted to live in such a world if it weren’t so busy with betrayal, ambition, dangerous secrets, and invasions.

How are Ceridwen, Finnian, Rafi, and Jakim going to keep their integrity in this epic world filled with plots and duty?

 

I recommend this book for fifteen and up ages. Horse lovers will especially enjoy the horses and people who ride them. Readers who want excitement will also find it here, though perhaps at a slower pace than wanted. The readers who need sword-slashing on every page or who cannot stand time spent in description might not appreciate the book. Those who cannot stand piles of bodies might also dislike the story. Those who love depictions of courage will find much to delight in this world of wonders.

 

Of Fire and Ashes is available on Amazon.

 

Genre: Clean Fantasy

Ratings:

Heat: None. The friendship between Ceridwen and Finnian deepens through the book but does not become romance.

Language: Beautiful and clean

Violence: There’s a lot of violence and a lot of blood. There are many battles and well as deaths. I would not recommend for sensitive or young children.

 

This book is available on Amazon.

 

Lelia Rose Foreman has raised and released five children. Everyone survived. She also homeschooled fourteen years with similar results. You can find her Christian science-fiction, A Shattered World in English or Spanish. She writes science fantasy adventure, Tales from Talifar with her oldest son, a video game artist, under the name Rose Foreman. You can contact Josh Foreman at breathoflifedev.com

 

 

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