I have spent this week getting stuck into the #IFASummerChallenge, and I am already 10 books in and my tbr is growing daily. Today, I will be reviewing ‘From Cold Ashes Risen’ the third book in The War Eternal trilogy by Rob J. Hayes that I had been sitting on just for this challenge, and tomorrow I will be doing some mini reviews for the other indie books that I have been reading as part of the challenge, and on Sunday I will be reviewing ‘The Bone Ships’ by RJ Barker.
The Corpse Queen Comes.
Eskara has lost everything. The War Eternal has cost her everything she loves, and the Iron Legion has taken the rest. Yet there is something that is still hers, something that kept her warm during her time in the Pit. Anger and a lust for vengeance. First on the list of those who must pay, the Emperor of Terrelan.
Her friends counsel peace, but her inner demons push for war, and Eska finds herself caught in the middle. Will she find a way to reap her vengeance? Or will the enemies of her past catch up to her first?
One thing is certain. The world will soon know fear when the Corpse Queen ascends her throne.
This is how you finish a trilogy.
That’s it, that’s the review. Well, not really, but it certainly sums up the core of the book hangover I am currently nursing, that blend of satisfaction, hunger for more and the aching realisation that it is over – although the author’s note, promising more in this world was everything I needed.
From Cold Ashes Risen was the perfect conclusion to the narrative that has built through the previous two books, even though there are still questions, still stories untold, ripples unexplored – and for me that gave this story, and Eska’s actions more impact. Because, while we could only see what she shared with us, even with her references to the future, brief mentions of the lasting impact of her actions, it is enough to create a vast scope and to imagine the future she has set in motion. Do I want to see more? Absolutely, and I will wait, however long for the other books mentioned in the author’s note. At the same time, I love how this conclusion tied up the threads of her tale, or her rise to Corpse Queen, but left the story, the world to continue.
The pacing was a little different in this one, in that we had a slower start. I enjoyed this pause, this chance for Eska and the others to take stock, recover and learn, and it was a much-needed chance to catch your breath because the rest of the book was a gripping rollercoaster that didn’t let go. All the glimpses we’d been offered, mentions of what was to come coming to fruition, and delivered in ways that we could never have expected, all wrapped up in action, vengeance and emotion. It was a river sweeping that swept me along, but it never lost the smaller moments, the moments of friendship, of calm, of introspection, and that made it all the more powerful.
This book also brought the world-building to a crescendo. We learn so much throughout this book, the truth of the Djinn and Rand, more about the Other World, about magic. Some of it, bringing what we thought we knew crashing down around us, the truth more potent than we realised, and because we discover it alongside Eska it’s shocking, it hurts, and it felt real.
Eska continued to grow throughout this book, and while vengeance remained at her core. Her anger still there, but not as wild as it had been when she was younger, still proud – too proud – sometimes. Yet, in this book, we see her growing into who she thought herself to be, she learned and practised, and no step was easy. She had to fight to hone her magic into the weapon she wanted. She had to fight and listen to her friends and family, not always agreeing with them and still speaking without thought at times, but always taking on board what they said in some shape or form. Learning, more about herself – her need for company, to protect – what she would and wouldn’t sacrifice for vengeance, and we see her take responsibility, and acknowledge her mistakes even if she can’t take them back. At the same time, her rag-tag family shifts and changes, adapting to her growth as well as their own and the shifting world around them, and there were some raw, painful moments because of it.
I love Eska as a character, even when I don’t like her or don’t agree with her characters, and that is due to the fantastic development and the way she is written. She is flawed, she is powerful, and she is, utterly, messily human even when she seems more ‘monster’ than anything else.
Of all her relationships, and all the secondary characters – if he can even be called that – I love the bond that she shares with Sserakis. I’ve always enjoyed his character and role in the story, which was significantly expanded in this third book and was definitely one of my favourite parts of the narrative. To see the way they grew together, both as ‘people’ and in terms of power, and their choices right up until the end, struck a powerful chord with me, and I would love to know more about what happened to him.
I also have to mention the Emperor. There have been a lot of terrible people in this book, sometimes Eska has been the worse, but none of them made my skin crawl as much as this man. The first time he spoke, it felt like every hair stood on end. The Red Cells and what happened there – and what it did to Sserakis and Eska was one of the darkest parts of the book, and also one of my favourites, but that man unnerved me from start to end, and I have to say I felt no small satisfaction in what happened to him.
Honestly, I could wax lyrical about this book for hours and hours and not come close to how much I loved this book, and the entire trilogy. Instead, I am going to finish here and say I loved this book, I cannot recommend it enough, and now I am going to go and nurse my book hangover.
From Cold Ashes Risen (The War Eternal #3) – Rob J. Hayes (Published 26th May 2020) – ***** (5/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.