Fiction Review: Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler

Ashes of the Sun (Burningblade and Silvereye Book 1) by Django Wexler. Orbit, 2020. 9780316519540. 592pp.

The Chosen ruled humanity, but after an apocalyptic war with the underground-dwelling ghouls, they’re both gone. Now the Centarchs of the Twilight Order maintain some of the Chosen arcana and use it, along with their inborn power, the deiat, to defend the Dawn Republic. Mostly they fight the plagueborn — twisted creatures created from heaps of spare flesh — and the dhakim, cultists who use dark, forbidden arcana. It’s a little light side vs. dark side, complete with amazingly cool sabers called haken, whose form depends on the nature of the wielder’s deiat. (Wexler, in the acknowledgements, says the book “originated in a series of conversations about Star Wars.” It’s much more than the swords, but this book is not a knockoff.)

At the heart of it all is Maya, a young woman on the verge of becoming a Centarch, serving under a very kind master. Maya was taken from her family at a young age after her power was identified, a moment she doesn’t remember or dwell on. But her brother Gyre remembers — he tried to stop her from being taken and paid a high price. Now Gyre wants nothing more than to find a way to bring an end to the Twilight Order. To do that he needs to find a weapon to stand up to the Centarchs and the deiat. This will, of course, bring him into direct conflict with his long-lost sister.

The world is full of automatons, monsters, crashed skyships, and the remnants of past civilizations. Of special interest to librarians, Maya even has a budding romance with a young archivist! By the end of the book it’s clear — because we have characters to root for on both sides — that the basic idea of good and bad, Chosen vs ghouls, is more complicated than it seems. I’m really looking forward to the sequel(s).


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