A review by Nalini Haynes
Ember’s father is the warlord of the dominant race of the region and her mother is one of the indigenous people. Ember is getting married; part of the ceremony includes the bride and groom jumping over a fire. As they jump, the groom is consumed by Fire, a Power, who appears as a face and tells Ember that she belongs to him. Fire puts out nearly all the fires in the lands belonging to Ember’s people as a means of forcing her to travel to Fire Mountain. In order to save her people, Ember sets out with Ash and Cedar, two foster-cousins, and a group of guards including Holly, the captain. Hence the couple are Ember and Ash.
The plot is engaging, with characters who develop on their journey. One incident involving butterflies seemed inconsistent and could have been handled differently with the same outcome (I’m trying to avoid a spoiler). As this is my only complaint about plot holes, the story holds together well.
Although this is a stand-alone story, it appears that a previously written trilogy by the same author is set about 20 years previously. I thought the sudden introduction of wraiths during the climax of the story was jarring, however it was later explained that in the previous trilogy there was a battle with wraiths. It is quite likely that fans of the previous trilogy would have complained about inconsistency if the wraiths were absent.
Spoiler alert! I was a little disappointed with the final wrap up of relationships in the story after the characters had been challenged to grow and change. Other readers may disagree with me, particularly on the basis that this is not a saccharine-sweet Hollywood style ending, for which the author gets full marks. Spoiler ends.
Ember and Ash is an enjoyable fantasy story recommended for fans of Terry Brooks, Sarah Silverwood and Trudi Canavan.
This article was previously published in Dark Matter issue 3, April 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.