Book Review: Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham

Title: Age of Ash

Author: Daniel Abraham

Series: Kithamar #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold.This is Alys’s.When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why.  But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives. Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything. -Goodreads

The Review:

Abraham’s writing sings to my soul.

I find his stories incredibly addicting. I had a massive TBR in between me and this book, but kept finding myself opening it to read a couple pages at a time. The first several passages were so gripping, by the time I was “supposed” to be reading it, I was already almost 20% in.

There are so many things I love about Abraham’s stories. One being the subtle, yet robust world building that just oozes off the pages while you’re focused on other things. He doesn’t take a lot of time setting the scene, but when he does, it’s beautiful and absorbing. Kithamar feels like a real place, a familiar place. Yet at the same time it’s unique in so many ways that only living day-to-day with another culture can bring. I loved spending time on these streets, filth and all, and can’t wait until I get to go back.

Another thing I love is the deep character immersion that only happens when an author isn’t self-conscious about taking his time to really immerse you with his characters. I thrive on that kind of connection and found myself despairing, angry, and a whole myriad of other emotions right alongside them. I talked to the book a couple times, which for me is a sign of true investment. And the cool thing is he probably hasn’t even scratched the surface on what’s planned for this series (with upcoming perspectives for characters we saw only on the periphery here), and that’s incredibly exciting.

This was one of those books I enjoyed so much, I could set aside my over-critical mind and just appreciate the journey. It’s only in retrospect while trying to compose this review where I consider what might not work for other readers. There were no major earth-shattering revelations in this story. Very few what I’d call “action” scenes. And in truth I find it hard to describe exactly why reading it was as wonderful as it was, aside from highlighting broader themes of Abraham’s work. It’s one of those cases where if his writing and unique perspective of subtle, character-driven storytelling works for you, then this book is a grand slam. And after hearing some things about the big-picture development of the series as a whole, I’m so there for every last word.

Recommendations: if you love subtle, immersive world-building and highly character-driven novels, then Age of Ash will be right up your alley. I loved my experience with Long Price Quartet and so far Kithamar is starting out just as strong.

I’d like to thank Orbit Books, Daniel Abraham, and Netgalley for the chance to read and review an early copy of Age of Ash – y’all made my year!

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