Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler is the first book in the Burning Blade and Silver Eye series. It’s also my first time reading anything by Django Wexler and I am super impressed by the writing, world building, and the characters he has created in this book. It was an electrifying fast paced epic fantasy novel with so many nail biting moments.
The story begins with with two children play fighting on their farm. They are siblings Gyre and his little sister Maya. Gyre loves his sister more than anything in the world and would do anything to protect her. However, tragedy occurs when Va’aht Thousandcuts arrives on their farm to take Maya away. Maya has been suffering from an unknown illness and Va’aht wants to take her away in order to help her. Upon seeing his sister crying and screaming at the prospect of leaving her family, Gyre stabs Va’aht in the leg. Even though Gyre is 8 years old the centarch gives zero f***s and slashes Gyre with his Hakan leaving Gyre with a horrific scar on his face and eye.
“Vaaht put his hand on his haken. He didn’t draw the weapon, just touched it, and crooked one finger.Pain exploded in Gyre’s head, a line of fire from cheek to eyebrow.”
Fast forward twelve years later and so much has changed for both Maya and Gyre. Gyre is now known as “Halfmask” as he wears a mask on the side of his face to cover the scar gained at the hands of Va’aht. Gyre is very much anti Twilight Order and anti authority. He finds himself now working with a rebel group led by Yaro. They aim to simply cause chaos and take down The Twilight Order and wipe them off the face of the earth. Inside of Gyre there is nothing but anger towards the authority. He wants to find a secret power that would give those who are not part of the Order the upper hand.
The Twilight Order are sort of like the Knights of Camelot meets Jedis. They preserve order and carry out the traditions of The Chosen. The Chosen were people who defeated the ghouls but died out due to a plague that was released on the empire. Centarchs and Agathios have their own Haken which is sort of like a lightsaber. Through the Haken individuals can channel “deiat” which is a power different to every individual.
“Every centarch manifested dait differently-as lightning. ice. raw force, or subtle energies. For Maya, it has always been fire. Deity was the fire of creation, the raw power of the universe.”
Anyway, Maya on the other hand is living on the different side of the spectrum. She is no longer ill having had an arcana implanted in her chest which she simply calls “The Thing” She is also now an “agathios”. This means she is training to become a centarch. Maya travels with her mentor and centarch, Jaedia Suddenstorm who is like a mother figure to Maya. Jaedia has taught Maya to be kind towards the people and do what she can to keep humanity safe.
One thing that I really enjoyed was the contrast between Gyre and Maya. The story is told from the POV of both of them as they navigate through the world. They are complicated individuals who have their own personal struggles that they must deal with.Gyre is someone who you could say is on the cusp of the dark side. Due to his anger at The Order for breaking apart his family, Gyre is willing to cross the line. At the same time Gyre is also an ambitious individual that wants to grasp the power to change the empire. He believes that the Twilight Order are only benefiting for themselves as the rest of the people suffer and live in poverty.
On the other hand we have Maya who has grown up as part of the Twilight Order and has not seen her family since being taken away. She believes in the cause of the Order and is committed to becoming a centarch. In doing so, Maya aims to serve the people and protect them against bad people and creatures such as plaguespawn and ghouls.Now you’d think Maya has been living the kush life and everything is fine and dandy, but it’s definitely not. As the story goes on Maya’s opinion of the Twilight Order is tested greatly as she uncovers corruption and the way those below the Order are treated. This makes it for a brilliant read as Maya must try to balance the truth that follows along with the values of being centarch.As expected both Gyre and Maya end up being reunited. Although both siblings love each other they are definitely tested as each of them is on different sides.
Other than the characters of Maya and Gyre, there are a wide range of absolutely phenomenal supporting characters who shine in this novel. My personal favourite is most definitely Kit Doomseeker who was such a fun and a exciting character. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding her which adds to the intrigue. I also loved her dialogue and chemistry with Gyre. Both of them really bounce off each other and the chemistry was magnificent.
“Having second thoughts” Kit said cheerfully, coming up behind him. Just contemplating freezing my balls off,” Gyre murdered I Suppose I’ve got one up on you their,” Kit said.”
There’s also the arcanist Beq who is the love interest of Maya. I really liked how their relationship wasn’t rushed and super in your face. After meeting each other for the first time there’s definitely a click but you can tell both of them are nervous about taking things further. Maya also has a mini rivalry with someone called Tanax who is really uptight and bossy. He is on the cusp of becoming a centarch so is pushes himself to do things by the rules. Varo the scout also adds a lot of humour to the story. He calls himself “Varo Plagueluck” and shares stories of how his friends have died.
“Mind you,” Varo went on, “a friend of mine died that way. Turned out he was allergic to bee stings, and he swelled up like a balloonThat’s terrible.” Maya said, “Dunno. With his last words, he swore the honey was worth it.”
I also have to mention how great the writing style and world building was because boy did it catch my attention. Considering this book was around 525 pages you’d think it was going to be a drag but it most definitely was not. There was no over explaining or information dumping whatsoever. Django Wexler writing flows incredibly well and keeps you gripped from beginning to end. The way he describes things is immersive and makes you picture everything in your mind. Be
The world building in the novel is full of mystery that you just want to keep on digging. I loved the concept of The Twilight Order, Centarchs, and Agathios. It gave me a similar vibe to Star Wars especially Jadea who comes across as Obi Wan Kanobi with her calm and collective mannerisms. The monsters in the novel make your skin crawl too. Particularly the plague spawn who reminded me of the “Lickers” from Resident Evil games. I found the history behind the ghouls also really intriguing as they have basically been wiped out by the Order, or so they say.
The glossary at the end of the book really helps in helping you understand the world and what things mean. Really glad the author included this.
So my final thoughts, Ashes of the Sun is an ass kicker of a book with a story that sizzles. The action sequences were super exciting and gave the constant feeling of a standoff. I can’t wait to see what else Django Wexler explores in the sequel.Thanks once again to Angela and the Orbit team for sending me a copy of the book 😊.