In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.
If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
I first was introduced to Intisar Khanani when I read her novel, Thorn, which quickly became one of my favourite books of all time, and my second favourite book of last year. I immediately put all of her other novels on my To Be Read shelf.
Memories of Ash is the second book in the Sunbolt Chronicles Series, the first being Sunbolt, a novella that introduces the world, and the main character, Hitomi. It’s imperative to read before you start this novel. Memories of Ash takes place a year after the end of Sunbolt.
Memories of Ash has quickly become one of my favourite books of the year. I stayed up far too long reading it because every time I picked it up, I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know what was going to happen next. It’s hard to put into words how much I love it, but I’m going to try.
Normally, I’m not hugely interested in the high fantasy genre, but the premise of these books was intriguing. The plot synopsis of Sunbolt talked about secrets and The Shadow League, which is an underground revolutionary movement trying to overthrow a corrupt ArchMage. I was sold. Also, as soon as I began reading the books, I realized Hitomi was a diverse character. Hallelujah. I’m a big supporter of diversity in books, and it’s a refreshing trait for the main character to not be white.
Another refreshing point was the fact that romance doesn’t play a large part in this series. The books are truly about Hitomi and her friends working together to achieve their goals. Hitomi is a self-sufficient, courageous woman who always wants to do what’s right and what’s honorable. She’s willing to put her own life in jeopardy for the sake of her friends. She’s also very compassionate – she doesn’t want to take anybody’s life, even if they’re her enemy. This isn’t a weakness though, it’s just another mark of her bravery. Her loyalty for her friends is astounding. The book had a lot of these big moral questions, and it was really interesting to watch the characters grapple with them.
The relationships in this book are also wonderful. While there’s no romance, Hitomi had friends and allies that she deeply cares for, and who feel the same way about her. Even when Hitomi was faced with people who weren’t on her side, she still treated them with respect and civility, which is also unique to the genre.
The plot is fast-paced, and it’s full of adventure. It sort of has the feel of a caper, but this book is not light and breezy. I thought the pacing of this book was nearly perfect. It had just the right amount of world building along with the plot.
However, my favourite part of this novel is the impeccable writing. I can’t describe how incredibly well Intisar Khanani can write. She adds description to the story perfectly. It’s enough to give you a feel for the environment and the world, but not enough to bog the story down with unnecessary details or info-dumps. The writing impressed me so much and one of my favourite passages made me develop literal goosebumps:
I have already burned, and this pain, this potion, is but an echo of what I chose with my sunbolt. Welcome home, I tell the inferno. Come and be done with it.
Memories of Ash is an immersive, beautifully written gem of a novel. I highly recommend it to everybody. In fact, I recommend everything written by this author.
I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This has not affected my review in any way.