The violent dystopia of The Hunger Games with fiery, phoenix-horse races leading to a revolution. Hold on tight.
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Content Producer, Fortune
Dystopian YA had its heyday while I was in high school, and you can bet I devoured every one I could get my hands on. So as I dove into Scott Reintgen’s Ashlords, I felt an acute sense of nostalgia that took me right back to the days I spent poring over The Hunger Games and Divergent. Simultaneously familiar (in the best way possible) and inventive, I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a long time.
In The Races, it’s not enough to be a great rider. Contestants must also have mastery in combat and alchemy if they hope to survive, let alone win, the brutal days-long event with their phoenix horses. When The Races bring together a champion’s daughter from the upper crust, a revolutionary with something to prove, and a scholarship entrant planning to uproot the system entirely, the simmering tension of an oppressive society erupts.
Whether you’ve been reading dystopian YA for years or this is the first you’ve picked up, Ashlords has something for everyone. With its fight-the-system attitude and fearsome characters facing impossible odds, plus a little alchemy and a Wild West-inspired setting, Ashlords is an insanely exciting, binge-worthy read I couldn’t put down.
Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they've raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That's all legal and encouraged.
In this year's Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest—a champion's daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary's son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?