The violent dystopia of The Hunger Games with fiery, phoenix-horse races leading to a revolution. Hold on tight.
Good to know
First in series
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?
Farian wakes me at some ungodly hour.
He comes in like he lives here, drags me out of bed, and gets me into a pair of boots. My corner candle’s out, so I can’t even see which cloak he throws around my shoulders or which hat he slaps on my head. Farian would say that’s for the best. According to him, fashion and I were never properly introduced. He’s always threatening to throw away my favorite dresses. It is a point of contention between us.
We stumble through the dark. Someone’s asleep on the couch. An uncle, but I couldn’t say which one. They all snore the same. Empty bottles spin away from my clumsy steps. Farian keeps a steady hand on my back until we’re in the candlelight of the kitchen. He sets a cup of coffee in my hands, lets me take a few sips, and then pushes me out the door.
It should be black at this hour, but the sky’s cloud-clear, and the stars recognize a stage when it’s there. Dueling nebulas slash over the dark, rolling mesas. I hear Doctor Vass explain, “Each light is a sun. To each sun, planets. To each planet, moons. How endless it all is. . . .”
Farian looks back. “You awake yet?”
“No talking until I can see what color your clothes are.”
Why I love it
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.
Member ratings (516)
I want to live in this book. The story sucked me in and I couldn’t wait to see how all the characters ended up. There arethree different viewpoints (one of which is second which keeps the story fresh)
I love this book! I knew I would since I love the Nyxia series, but it was better than I expected. Imelda and Adrian are written beautifully (1st person) but Pippa’s 2nd person POV was awkward 4.5/5
Diamond Point, NY
The three different viewpoints really made this book for me. It gave amazing insight into the thought processes of the characters, and definitely helped me understand the impact of the racial tension.
This book kept me on the edge of my seat! I loved that the story was told from three perspectives. It really gave you a glimpse of what this world was like for every group of people! Highly reccommend
I loved the world created for this book: one in which there are phoenix horses that are reborn every sunrise. The 3 main narrators give an in-depth view of the class system, making it feel more real.