Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Time of Ashes’ by Ru Pringle organised by Storytellers on Tour, this is the first book in the Fate and the Wheel Series.
I hope that you will check out the book and the author, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE).
A quest through a thousand worlds. An aeons-old foe. Not even the gods can help. It’s killing them, too.
IN THE YEARS BEFORE THE CORRUPTION CAME, Murrin Kentle lived in a world where the largest island could be walked across in a day, and humans traded and fished in bladeships made from the bones of the gigantic and bizarre sea monsters patrolling its stormy, bottomless oceans. As a truthkeep of the Brotherhood of the First Mind, it’s been his duty to fight the decay of knowledge with religious fervour. A fervour he has increasingly struggled to maintain.
Before the Corruption came, Sheehan hahe Seeheeli was a carefree countess of the Shi’iin. Amphibious and fiercely matriarchal, her people have maintained an uneasy coexistence with the human scholars dominating the islands. Then an emissary of the gods brings news of an impending catastrophe. Now, she and Murrin must embark on a desperate voyage in the hope of salvation, although both the subject of their search and the path they must take remain stubbornly obscure.
Before the Corruption came, a wild young man named Coll grew up in a desert town, consumed by rage over what was done to his mother. His thirst for retribution will set in motion a train of events not even the gods could fully have foretold.
NOW THE CORRUPTION IS HERE, and nothing in Murrin’s world, nor any of the worlds of the Sundered Realm, will ever be the same.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with A Time of Ashes, as both the cover and the blurb promise quite a lot – especially the blurb which hints at the scale of this world. And I have somewhat mixed feelings about this one having finished it, although I must say from the start that I really enjoyed it – particularly in the latter part of the book.
One aspect, that I really did love about this book was the worldbuilding, and it was there that I felt the real strength of A Time of Ashes lay and where the scope indicated in the blurb really shines through, and I would return to this series for the world alone. Here, we also see another aspect hinted at with the cover – that this book meanders the boundary between fantasy and sci-fi. I would argue that it is more fantasy-dominated, but there were definitely moments and elements where that boundary became a bit more blurred – which is by no means a complaint as science-fantasy was my gateway to SFF. Even as this boundary blurred, the world-building itself was realised with a fantastic level of detail, and some truly brilliant descriptions that brought the strangeness to life. The different peoples and cultures were well-written and developed, and it also does something I always like with worldbuilding in that it left me with the feeling that there was still more to discover, and wanting to read on because of that.
Another strong point for this book was the characters. Fair warning, there is quite a large cast, but each of them was well-developed in their own right, and Pringle does a good job of playing with character archetypes without becoming trapped by them, giving his characters well-rounded development and personalities. Each had a strong, unique voice, and I don’t think there was a single one that I didn’t enjoy spending time with. Oliént in particular I found a fascinating take on a villain – he’s not likeable, but there was something about him that caught my attention, and there’s a lot of potential in him I think. I think Murrin and Coll are probably tied at the moment for my favourite, although I think Coll and his outlook on life might just take the edge, I also loved Sheehan, and it’s always nice to have a book where characters on both sides of the divide are so well-written and captivating.
As I mentioned above, there are some brilliant descriptions in this book – for some reason I was really taken with the eel-wood (hence my quote of choice), I just loved the imagery. There was certainly nothing lacking in that aspect, and it was paired with a flowing, enjoyable writing style. What I did struggle a little with was the pacing, particularly towards the beginning where a lot was being introduced – necessary with the scope of the worldbuilding and storyline, and the number of characters -and there were a few places where it felt a little heavy-handed. This did smooth out as the book found its stride, and it did help me find my feet in this detailed world, but I felt the execution could have perhaps been approached differently. The ending was one I liked the more I thought about it, and certainly sets the scene for the story to continue.
This is definitely a world I want to return to, and I think A Time of Ashes will appeal to anyone who likes a book with that epic scope while meandering the boundaries between SFF. This was an enjoyable read, and overall it did an excellent job of establishing the world and characters and setting the foundation for the rest of the series, and I am interested to see where Pringle takes it in future books.
About the Author:
Ru Pringle began his writing career at the age of 18, paying university bills by writing features for outdoor and climbing magazines. After a stint as an environmental scientist, he became a full-time writer, gradually veering towards travel journalism. He has also worked as a tree- and vineyard-planter, footpath builder, roofer, joiner, plumber, yacht crewperson, youth hostel warden, mountain and trail guide, oil-painting salesman, cook, sound engineer, and didgeridoo and mandolin tutor.
His first two books were published in the summer of 2018: A Time of Ashes and Hunting Gods, the first parts of the fantasy / SF epic Fate and the Wheel. A dark near-future thriller, October Song, followed in October 2018, then the irreverent music-themed SF comedy Surfers and two-part epic space opera The Seed in 2020. He is now in the final stages of editing a fast-paced science fiction thriller. He lives in the southwest Highlands of Scotland.