Title: Realm Of Ash
Series: The Books Of Ambha
Author: Tasha Suri
Genre: Adult, fantasy
The fate of an empire rests in the hands of a young woman with magical blood and nothing left to lose, and an outcast prince determined to save his family at any cost, in this “dark, melodious, and memorable” new fantasy (Library Journal, starred review) from the author of the award-winning Empire of Sand.
The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors’ dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price.
Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she’s pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves.
Together, they’ll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they’ve ever believed… including whether the Empire is worth saving at all.
I am still catching my breath over the story. Like with Empire Of Sand. The difference being that this one took me longer to read because I was in a reading slump when I started it and couldn’t actually open the book for a while.
But when I did? Whew. Done in two days, didn’t touch my laptop until I did!
It was the best way to continue what was built in the first novel. The death of the Maha has changed the world and people in power in the Empire are grasping at the past to find answers to fix things. Except they do not have all the answers, and so Arwa finds herself in a position to be useful, she thinks.
Arwa as a character is a little bit the opposite to Mehr. Where Mehr embraced her Amrithi heritage, Arwa has taught herself to hide it, never learning anything and pretending, for all she is worth, to be an Ambhan noblewoman. But beneath all of that, she is angry, and that anger is so reminiscent of Mehr in some ways, and so different in others. Even as her understanding of the world crumbles and is rebuilt around her, she holds on to that anger, and in that anger she finds a strength she did not know.
I love her so much.
And Zahir! Zahir sees himself as nothing but a tool. To survive he needs to be useful, and that is a little like Amun, but then everything else is different. He is smart, so smart, and his relationship with Arwa develops so beautifully. Two seemingly very different people who have to work together and see reflections of the parts of themselves they keep hidden and secret coming together slowly.
It is wonderful, and dark, and the world is broken around them, but there is a thread of hope throughout that carries through right to the end. I loved it so much, and am very emotional.