Ember and Ash – Pamela Freeman

About the Book

The old ones will have their revenge.

Two peoples have been fighting over the same land for a thousand years. Invaders crushed the original inhabitants, and ancient powers have reluctantly given way to newer magics. But Ember was to change all this with a wedding to bind these warring people together – until her future goes up in flames.

Ember’s husband-to-be is murdered by a vengeful elemental god, who sees peace as a breach of faith. Set on retribution, she enlists the help of Ash, son of a seer. Together they will pit themselves against elementals of fire and ice in a last attempt to end the conflicts that have scarred their past. They must look to the present, as old furies are waking to violence and are eager to reclaim their people.

528 pages (paperback)
Published on: May 1, 2011
Published by: Orbit
Author’s webpage
The Casting’s Trilogy webpage

Read an extract of Ember and Ash here

I received a copy of this book from netgalley.
I’m usually not that into character driven or more emotionally compelling plotlines. For some reason, being pregnant brings out the side of me that enjoys that kind of thing. Ember and Ash is both character driven and emotionally compelling. While I would have enjoyed this book without being pregnant, the pregnant hormones added some umph to my overall experience.
While Ember and Ash does take place in the same world as Freeman’s Castings Trilogy, readers don’t have to read the Castings Trilogy first to understand or appreciate Ember and Ash. However, that being said, individuals who have read the Castings Trilogy first will probably have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world Freeman sets her book in.
Ember and Ash reminds me of an old fable in the sense that it follows much of the same traditional plotlines as many old tales. For example, the main character starts out fairly immature, but after a tragedy she is forced, with a small group of protectors, on a seemingly impossible journey wherein she gains maturity. Much of the book involves some sort of travel and adventure. During this travel, Freeman slowly and subtly expands on the world she has created. Freeman drops in hints of background, culture, struggles and strengths as the book progresses. By unveiling her world in this manner she fully avoids oppressive infodumps and insures that new and returning readers will gain a new, fuller appreciation for the world without being hit over the head with it.
Freeman keeps her perspectives fairly limited. It’s easy to remember who is who and what they are doing, despite the multiple points of view. While this does keep the book refreshing and helps give the reader a more full appreciation of how the events affect all of the people in the Domains, not just the protagonists, there is a drawback. Several of the chapters are told from the perspectives of individuals who have to journey into outlying villages to help individuals prepare for the times they are facing. While these chapters are interesting, they can distract from the overall plot and, occasionally, serve as speed bumps to the plot progression.
Freeman’s writing is lyrical and nicely descriptive without going over-the-top with unnecessary details. This helps give Ember and Ash a clean cut and well-groomed feel. Despite the fact that this book does border on predictable, Freeman’s writing makes that predictability unimportant. It is easy to enjoy this book for what it is and fall into the lyrical prose without overthinking the plot or character development. Basically, Ember and Ash is a book that is easy to understand and enjoy simply because it’s an enjoyable yarn.
The world of the Domains is, perhaps, what keeps me coming back to Freeman’s work. As with the Casting TrilogyEmber and Ash focuses on elemental powers and a vast swath of history filled with travelers (like gypsies), talking lakes and humans that shift into animals. What I appreciate most, however, is that Freeman doesn’t stilt on discussing how prejudice affects individuals in the Domains. Not only does the author show the good, but also the bad and while it’s not as big of a focus as it was in the Castings Trilogy, it’s still there adding additional dimension to her world.

I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the romance in the book. There is a bit of romantic tension in Ember and Ash, and it’s pretty easy to sense it from about a mile away. Romance usually really bothers me, but Freeman handled it very gently and though it’s not subtle and it is fairly predictable, the respect she uses during the romantic scenes deserves to be noted. The romance doesn’t smother the plot, or the reader. It’s an additional spice to the plot, but doesn’t support the plot, which is refreshing.
The ending of Ember and Ash is perfect for the book. Freeman nicely wraps up all the loose ends. The characters never lose their dimensionality, the world continues turning and life goes on as readers probably assume it will. Unlike many books, Ember and Ash isn’t about the ending, but about the journey it takes to get to the ending.
Ember and Ash is a good addition to the Domains. If I didn’t find the book as compelling as the Castings Trilogy, it was still an enjoyable and worthy read which reminds me of old fables. Ember and Ash is about the journey, not just the ending. Despite the fact that parts of the plot may require some patience to get through, it’s easy to overlook. Freeman’s lyrical writing, coupled with the fascinating world she has created is enough to hook even the most jaded fantasy reader.
4/5 stars

2 Responses

  • Melissa (My World...in words and pages)

    This sounds like one I think I would enjoy. I've wanted to get the Casting Trilogy as well, just haven't gotten that far yet. But they do sound great! Thank you.

  • Bibliotropic

    I've got this one through NetGalley too, and I think that it's going to be one of the next ones I read once I've finished up the current batch of books that I'm reading. I've been putting it off for a while now, but I think it's about time I stopped doing that, especially after hearing you say that it's an enjoyable read. Hearing that it's set in a world that's already been well-established is a little disappointing, though, since I normally tend to avoid introductions to new worlds unless they're with the first novel, but I'll give this one a chance and see where I go with it. Maybe it'll just leave me wanting to read the other books in a hurry! 🙂

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