Ashes of the Sun (Burning Blade & Silvereye #1)

by Django Wexler

Head of Zeus - an Adastra book
Publication Date 1 Oct 2020

Django Wexler’s genre-fluid tale of sibling rivalry, Empire and Rebellion is a fast paced, action adventure from start to finish.

Wexler has carefully crafted a tale that successfully entwines SciFi Fantasy, Space Opera and coming of age tale to begin his new series, Burningblade & Silvereye

The story centres around two siblings, Maya & Gyre.

At the age of five, Maya is torn from her family to enter The Twilight Order, so that they can save her life and teach her the ways of Deiat (the magic used by the Order). As Maya grows, she becomes an apprentice to the famed knight, Jaedia.

Meanwhile, Gyre is left to suffer the consequences of his sister’s cruel removal from the family by a system that does not care about the havoc it wreaks. Gyre grows up to become disaffected and impoverished, eventually leading him to a life of crime to survive and become an enemy of the state. The rebel, Halfmask.

The book is generally action and character driven, telling the divergent stories of Maya and Gyre from each sibling’s perspective. Maya is the most compassionate of the two characters with a strong sense of morality, idealism and justice whilst being in the confines of a bureaucratic order that stiffly maintains tradition in order to maintain control. Wexler weaves a coming of age tale with a coming out tale, as not only does Maya have to traverse the many trappings of the Twilight Order, but she must navigate her own feelings toward fellow apprentice Beq.

On the other hand, Gyre is a cold and distant individual, who, whilst bearing the physical scars left to him by the Knight who removed his sister from their bucolic lifestyle, also bears the emotional scars of this trauma, and as a result has become obsessed with finding The Tomb. A fabled city of a civilisation that was destroyed centuries ago in a bloody war. This war shaped the current civilisation forming it into the unjust and tyrannical establishment that has no regard for the welfare of the people that it states it protects.

Gyre believes that when he finds the fabled city, he will find the ultimate power to destroy The Twilight Order and the establishment that leaves its people in poverty and hunger, scrabbling for ancient pieces of technology in the dangerous tunnels so that they can make a living. However, whilst Gyre may have ideals, his actions clearly indicate that he will use anyone in the pursuit of his obsession. He has become individualistic and self-motivated in his quest to obtain the power that he strives to wield, so that he can smash the Empire that he hates. That’s not to say that Gyre is a bad character, but he is morally grey in his actions and he is made greyer at the introduction of the character Kitsrea Doomseeker, a sociopathic individual who has the morals of an alley cat, and promises to lead him to the Tomb and towards his goals.

Wexler populates his colourful world with all sorts of creatures that include mutants, evil magic wielders and mythological races, that all in all, bolster the plot that Wexler has turned up to eleventy – stupid, engaging the reader from beginning to end, never letting the reader have a minute by introducing a plot that involves heists, quests, treachery, romance and much more.

It’s not to say that the plot is faultless, there are some questions that are left unanswered in the book, such as the relationship between Church and State, the history of the Republic and how the effects of the war affected the people.  But, as I said, this is an introduction to this world, and there is a lot more scope for these questions to be answered as the series progresses.

One of the admirable aspects of the book is the way that it does not openly tout good or evil. Maya intrinsically, is a good character who has lots of worthy qualities. However, she is a shining star in an establishment that seems to be overtly oppressive and corrupt. Gyre, on the other hand, seems to have  an admirable ideal in attempting to overthrow the establishment that is oppressive and corrupt, but his character is morally redundant, and in all honesty has few commendable qualities.
On the whole, Wexler has crafted a story that introduces new facets to the fantasy world whilst drawing on established SciFi fantasy tropes and has let loose a cracking book that will leave you hoping the second instalment is just around the corner.

Review Copy provided by Netgalley & publishers, Head of Zeus for an honest review. The enjoyment is all my own


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