Sunday, 24 February 2013

It Began With Ashes, D. E. M. Emrys

Publishers: Four Branches Publishing

Pages: 180

Main Characters:

Draven, Kale, Astartes, Damian

I’ve been looking forward to reading It Began With Ashes ever since I read David’s short story From Man to Man, which was sort of an interlude/teaser for this novel. I have to say that the book was worth the wait, as from the first chapter you are drawn into the story! The novel is based in the fictional world of Wroge, which after a time of invasion, war and conquest, has held an unsteady peace between the various Kingdoms and Clans for the last twelve years. The wars fought over a decade earlier saw the rise of the Arneutons, who now rule Wroge with a strict hand, and the exile of the Vikir, a fearsome tribe of horn-helmed warriors, that were banished to the icy wastes in the North of Wroge.

In amongst these tribes are the Keltir, a clan that fought for the Arneutons during the war. After their loyal service during the war, the Keltir are now forced to scratch out a living on the border of Wroge. The Torne, a subsection of the clan, mostly live in and around Hearth Village, which is only a short distance from the exiled Vikir.

On the road to Hearth Village, Astartes is nervous. From the seat in his father’s cart, he is convinced that someone or something is stalking them through the forest. His father tells him not to be ridiculous, as no bandits would dare attack them this close to the village and more importantly, this close to the Mercenaries’ Guild. However, Astartes is not convinced and as the cart passes through a dark clearing, he notices a human shaped figure watching them, but this is not what scares him the most, it’s the fact the figure is wearing a horned helmet…

Meanwhile in Hearth Village, Draven is part of the Keltir and has a dark and dangerous past. Serving as a mercenary, Draven fought during the Arneuton invasion and numerous other wars. However, after the birth of his son Kale, Draven gave up the hard but well-paid life of a mercenary to settle down with his wife and son.  Draven and his family managed to survive in the small village of Hearth after Kale’s birth. However, twelve years on, things have become dire and Draven must return to his job as a sword-for-hire to feed his family, much to the distress and anger of his wife Morganna. However, on the eve of Draven’s departure, fate turns against him and sends an old and dangerous enemy to Hearth Village resulting in Draven, Kale and Morganna’s world being turned to ash.

This book was great! Interestingly, when I was reading this book I was also listening to The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett as an audiobook. Both of these books are quite similar- they’re both fantasy novels and are set in a medieval sort of environment. However, out of the two novels I can honestly say that I preferred It Began With Ashes! As I said above, the vision of the helmeted warrior in the first chapter really caught my attention and after that, I was totally hooked with the novel!  I love that fact that you find out more about Draven’s past in this novel, whereas in From Man to Man it is left really mysterious.

I can’t wait for the next instalment of the Wroge Elements to find out more about Draven and Kale’s story! I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of fantasy novels. I also think that fans of The Warded Man would really enjoy this novel and should definitely check it out! I’d also say that you should definitely read From Man to Man before you check out this novel, as it really adds to the plot in this book. Plus, as a short-story on its own, it is a really great read! If you’d like to purchase either From Man to Man or It Began With Ashes, they are both available for Kindle at

For author’s official blog click here.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Book of the Month Competition for your chance to win a FREE copy of the The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe! To enter, just follow the instructions on this post and for more information click here.

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