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Kings of Ash One day he would grieve, and accept the price for all the lives snuffed for the great cause of the future, and suffer whatever came But not todayI noticed something early on while reading Kings of Ash A lot of my assumptions after finishing Kings of Paradise were completely wrong My assumption of where the story was headed in book 2, my assumption of Ruka s character, and my assumption of the time line I m sure if I were to go back and read book 1 I may be able to pick up on tOne day he would grieve, and accept the price for all the lives snuffed for the great cause of the future, and suffer whatever came But not todayI noticed something early on while reading Kings of Ash A lot of my assumptions after finishing Kings of Paradise were completely wrong My assumption of where the story was headed in book 2, my assumption of Ruka s character, and my assumption of the time line I m sure if I were to go back and read book 1 I may be able to pick up on these things, but probably not I have to give Richard Nell props for the unconventional layout of this series so far I love being surprised when I m reading a highly engaging story, and he managed to surprise me several times in this one Some of these revelations are not just in the dialogue itself, but like lightbulb moments when you notice the author just revealed something you didn t even know was in question I m catching on to your little tricks Richard Nell, but I do hope you trick me again in Kings of Heaven The heart of this tale belongs to Ruka Outcast, shaman, warrior, genius, and manytitles that I could list belong to this man Ruka s character development in this book was simply amazing I thought he was an interesting character before starting this book, but I had only scratched the surface of this complex individual He is a man of intense passion with a drive and determination that is unmatched A person who sees the wrong in the world, and sets out to change it by any means necessary I never got tired of reading about him Which is a true testament to the great writing in this bookI am not a man, Prince of Paradise I am a thousand years of children buried nameless in rotten earth I am the rage of their helpless mothers, weeping beneath an empty sky I am the bitter fruit of frozen tearsRichard Nell is a talented and crafty writer This was evident to me after finishing Kings of Paradise, but it really showed in Kings of Ash To develop a series the way this one has been so far is very refreshing to a reader At least it is to this reader I won t go into any details, because it would really ruin the fun of discovering these things out for yourself Just know you are in for a treat, and a few WTF momentsA man fails in only two ways He gives up, or he diesThis book had a memorable ending, and a bit of a cliffhanger I m going to be impatiently waiting for the release of book 3, Kings of Heaven I highly recommend this book and series to all fantasy and fiction readers It is a deeply character driven tale, with intense moments, and a distinctive writing style Now, go read the books and thank me laterThen would come the true storm a storm building for two thousand years, made of the sons and daughters of once bitter enemies, an alliance between the lost children of paradise a storm of ash and sandActual Rating 4.5 stars Release date January ,The much anticipated continuation of the Ash and Sand trilogy Follow the long, bloody journey of Ruka, son of Beyla through the islands of Pyu and the frozen wastes of the Ascom see the return home of Ratama Kale Alaku, the Sorcerer Prince , and the terrifying rise of his miracles Before the end, a shocking history will unravel, ancient connections unfold, and all will learn the cost of unleashing the Kings of Ash We all should be familiar with the old saying, time heals all wounds Speaking from personal experience, that s not always true Physical wounds leave scars, and emotional wounds linger in the mind And although some details might fade over time, the pain doesn t ever really disappear you just learn to manage it But what if your memory was flawless What if, decades later, you can still remember what the wind smelled like when you held your dying mother in your arms Or if you recall the ex We all should be familiar with the old saying, time heals all wounds Speaking from personal experience, that s not always true Physical wounds leave scars, and emotional wounds linger in the mind And although some details might fade over time, the pain doesn t ever really disappear you just learn to manage it But what if your memory was flawless What if, decades later, you can still remember what the wind smelled like when you held your dying mother in your arms Or if you recall the exact pitch and tone of every innocent scream that was silenced by your blade If every mistake, every decision, and every moment of your life were preserved in perfect state, forever accessible is it ever possible to heal from your wounds This is what Ruka faces every waking moment His gift of eidetic memory is both a blessing and a curse Yet his preternatural abilities don t end there his mind is so expansive and far reaching that there is an evolving society with its own rules of science and nature that exists solely in his thoughts His body is occupied by two personalities Ruka the thinker and planner, and Bukayag the barbaric cannibal, renegade leader, and ruthless killer A constant battle is waged inside Ruka s mind there are times he can control his baser impulses, but other times he lets Bukayag take over when the situation calls for it The results aren t pretty, but they are effective This is a credo that Ruka has grown quite comfortable with It is of my opinion that Ruka is the most fascinating character in all of fantasy There has never been a character quite so unpredictable, so driven, and so dedicated to his own agenda that he ll sacrifice anything to achieve it One of theinteresting facets of his personality is that while he believes the ends justify the means, he fully expects a reckoning for his actions Ruka has tortured his followers, killed innocents, and committed terrible crimes some were in defense of his life, but many were not His follower Egil once said that Ruka is not a good man, but he might be a great man Someone who burns so bright that he will change the world and challenge the gods Ruka philosophizes that he will likely suffer in eternity for his actions, yet still deems his journey worthwhile He may have the power of a god, but he still contemplates an eternity of punishment This vulnerability helped me to further connect with Ruka s humanity, which is a neat trick to pull off, considering we first meet Ruka while eating a dead child Nell somehow manages to make me both love and hate Ruka, to both understand and question him, and somehow root for him to succeed even though he has done so many awful things It s a true testament to Nell s incredible gifts as a writer to instill such powerful feelings of sympathy for such a complex and haunting character There are many moments of Kings of Ash, book two in Richard Nell s brilliant Ash and Sand trilogy, that are truly shocking I do not say this lightly or with any degree of hyperbole Once again, Nell plays with a multiple timeline narrative and the reader s expectations are upended not once, but several times over There are game changing events that completely shatter the direction you think the book is headed, and these events occur early and surprisingly often There are extraordinary revelations that tie the first book to this sequel, and how it all fits together into a larger, seamless tapestry Nell s intricate plotting deserves special recognition as the early seeds of the story grow into meaningful and satisfying payoffs This book somehow makes Kings of Paradise even better, as it fills in the narrative gaps in the story you didn t know existed Minor characters are thrust into center stage, and major players are rcelegated to the sidelines while Kings of Paradise splits its focus between Ruka and Kale, Kings of Ash keeps Ruka in the spotlight for most of its duration And that is a good thing Nothing against Kale, but this is Ruka s story And as exciting as the various shock inducing plot revelations are, it is first and foremost a character based story, with Ruka s emotional journey driving the narrative In the many months and dozens of books I ve read in between Kings of Paradise and Kings of Ash, there hasn t been any character that I ve thought aboutthan Ruka He has set up a secondary Grove and taken residence in my head I find myself trying to relate to his decisions if I had his kind of power, and how I d react if I were suffering from the same environmental and emotional trials that he has faced I ve spent most of this review discussing Ruka without divulging much of the plot This is entirely intentional, as I do not wish to take anything away from the author by revealing something before its intention Nell is one of fantasy s most underrated for now talents, and I find it difficult to fathom how good this series is coming from an author so early in his career I can only imagine what heights the future has in store for Nell, but I selfishly hope it consists solely of writing Kings of Heaven for now In Kings of Ash, Nell has crafted a rare and unforgettable sequel that exceeds its predecessor It will surprise and haunt you, while playing your emotions like an unfinished symphony I give this series my highest recommendation 9.4 10 We have lift off Can t wait for you all to get reading For those who haven t started the series, I m running an ebook audiobook give away for Kings of Paradise on Reddit here for anyone so inclined Give away We have an ebook release date On January 17, the Kings of Ash escape their frozen prison, and let the tears flowYou can read the first two chapters right now on my website.Pre order available on.Very excited to share this next installment of the story with you all Pick your We have lift off Can t wait for you all to get reading For those who haven t started the series, I m running an ebook audiobook give away for Kings of Paradise on Reddit here for anyone so inclined Give away We have an ebook release date On January 17, the Kings of Ash escape their frozen prison, and let the tears flowYou can read the first two chapters right now on my website.Pre order available on.Very excited to share this next installment of the story with you all Pick your team, folks You re all slaves But I will free you I will drag you from this place kicking and screaming if I must Sequels are hard As a reader, I want to know what happens next but when I m about to pick up a sequel to a book that devastated and enthralled me impatience and hunger mix with anxiety What if the story I loved loses a sense of direction or disappoints It s happenedthan once After I finished Kings of Paradise, I wasn t sure how and if Richard Nell could top himself I mean, where You re all slaves But I will free you I will drag you from this place kicking and screaming if I must Sequels are hard As a reader, I want to know what happens next but when I m about to pick up a sequel to a book that devastated and enthralled me impatience and hunger mix with anxiety What if the story I loved loses a sense of direction or disappoints It s happenedthan once After I finished Kings of Paradise, I wasn t sure how and if Richard Nell could top himself I mean, where do you go from there To the inevitable clash of titans Or maybe you twist things and prove readers wrong Nell did both He delivers a heart wrenching and devastating story with real, believable characters you care for despite their monstrosity He doesn t give much humor, save situational one Instead, he gives strong intrigue, tragedy, and a terrifying insight into the inner workings of the greatest mind of a generation Kings of Ash focuses on Ruka It tells his story, unravels his past, and shows what drives him, and how he s been made It s not a story for the faint hearted as it contains graphic violence, physical and sexual abuse, mentions of rape, and cannibalism It ll make you hate, love, fear and cheer for Ruka It won t give you the answers you ll desperately need Is he a mad prophet, a semi god, god or something entirely else I hope we ll get the answers in Kings of Heaven in 2020.Dala and Kale appear, but they get just a fraction of screen time compared to Ruka Not a problem for me as I consider him one of the greatest characters in contemporary fantasy To make thingsinteresting Nell gives plenty of exposure to another fascinating character from KoP King Farahi I was right to consider him complex and intriguing You may wonder if KoA is better than Kings of Paradise and as flawless as my ramblings may suggest My answer may surprise you no, it isn t It has minor flaws like repetitive descriptions of Ruka s preternatural skills, especially near the end, or few long winded parts of the story with small impact on the over arching plot Additionally, in places I found extreme and graphic violence disturbing and, perhaps, unnecessary And then, there s the ending I ll brood on it for weeks Was it really the only way That said, Ruka s story made me experience moments od deep and genuine emotion and this means a lot to me That s the reason I ll round the rating up and will await 2020 with growing impatience.I don t want to say anythingabout this book Because it is a direct follow up to Kings of Paradise, anything I tell you about the story of Kings of Ash will tell you how KOP ended Let s just say that the story develops in few timelines and when they converge, Nell will prove you wrong and then break you I m not sayingIf you want the rest, go read the books Ruka may be my favorite character That s a bold statement because I didn t specify that he was my favorite character in this book, in fantasy, or even in books That was intentional The growth he experiences throughout this book is phenomenal I m not going to say much about the plot But, damn, the twists in this will snap your head back I was blown away quite a few times If you re interested in reading this one, you ve probably read Kings of Paradise If you have haven t read that one, wha Ruka may be my favorite character That s a bold statement because I didn t specify that he was my favorite character in this book, in fantasy, or even in books That was intentional The growth he experiences throughout this book is phenomenal I m not going to say much about the plot But, damn, the twists in this will snap your head back I was blown away quite a few times If you re interested in reading this one, you ve probably read Kings of Paradise If you have haven t read that one, what are you waiting for Disclaimer I volunteered to help proof this book I had purely selfish reasons for doing so as I got to read it before almost anyone But, that in no way influenced my review It did, however, turn me into the Bukayag of Words.Bonus Disclaimer I made the acknowledgements section I ll try to write a coherent review who am I kidding when I find some time Or maybe I ll just write about Ruka, who is one the most fascinating characters I ve ever had a pleasure to read about But for now, I ll just leave a short message for Richard Also, thank you for the nod in the acknowledgment section You re too kind I ll try to write a coherent review who am I kidding when I find some time Or maybe I ll just write about Ruka, who is one the most fascinating characters I ve ever had a pleasure to read about But for now, I ll just leave a short message for Richard Also, thank you for the nod in the acknowledgment section You re too kind I ll leave athorough review when I have a chance but this is getting a 5 and will probably be on my favorite books of the year list I thought Kings of Paradise was a brilliant book but I didn t love it, it was just a little too dark for my taste and my movie in my mind The book felt like it was in black and white with the tundra and grim nature The setting of this book changed that black and white feel and the writing brilliance was still there This book is just epic and the ending I ll leave athorough review when I have a chance but this is getting a 5 and will probably be on my favorite books of the year list I thought Kings of Paradise was a brilliant book but I didn t love it, it was just a little too dark for my taste and my movie in my mind The book felt like it was in black and white with the tundra and grim nature The setting of this book changed that black and white feel and the writing brilliance was still there This book is just epic and the ending was so unsatisfying in the best way possible haha I want the next book right away Ruka just might be one of my favorite characters in any book I ve read in years Jaelen from TRQW by Mark Lawrence is the only one that comes to mind immediately, he s such a fun and likeable character Ruka is a monster in many ways but he s also earnest and truly trying to help his people even though they would have left him to the elements when he was a baby and shunned him when he was older His magic system in his Sacred Grove in his mind is just plain amazing I d put it on par with almost any other magic system I ve read for coolness factor His Sacred Grove adds so much to the development of his character in addition to driving the plot forward.As a character I didn t care for Kale as much as the story continued on or as much as book 1 As he grew in his own powers he seemed to lose his humanity as opposed to Ruka who felt muchhuman to me thepowerful he grew.The world building continued to be wonderful and I loved how the info dump sections were expertly woven into Ruka s learning of his history and his own growing power.I felt like book 1 was brilliantly written but the bleakness caused me to see the world in black and white in my mind and that affected my enjoyment level The setting of this novel enabled me to see in color and I absolutely loved it This sequel to Kings of Paradise picks the story up where it left off, and we re shownprogression leading up to a tragic and inevitable war An attack filled with political risk jeopardizes the fate of the cultures on both sides Three compelling leaders, each empowered in ways they don t themselves understand, are set on a collision course that terrifies fate itselfI am not a man, Prince of Paradise I am a thousand years of children buried nameless in rotten earth I am the rage of th This sequel to Kings of Paradise picks the story up where it left off, and we re shownprogression leading up to a tragic and inevitable war An attack filled with political risk jeopardizes the fate of the cultures on both sides Three compelling leaders, each empowered in ways they don t themselves understand, are set on a collision course that terrifies fate itselfI am not a man, Prince of Paradise I am a thousand years of children buried nameless in rotten earth I am the rage of their helpless mothers, weeping beneath an empty sky I am the bitter fruit of frozen tears Much of this book shows events from years past, to give the reader an exclusive sort of insight into the lives of Ruka, Farahi, and Kale Fans of the first book will appreciate the deft storytelling and calculated ease at which the stakes are revealed All along we re haunted by the mantra It matters why And why indeed Ruka fights for his people, for a future filled with warmth, peace, and bounty, for something beyond mere survival Farahi s goals are much the same, a unified island chain surrounded by safe seas, a future in which his family line is secure And Kale, who has risen to every challenge, driven by his love for others, continues to ascend in the face of turmoil The author expertly weaves through the years and drama of their lives, building to a cinematic final battle that tore me open and left me in tears If you re looking for epic high fantasy that s vivid and grand, you will cherish this series Kings of Ash is a searing second installment from Richard Nell continuing the epic grimdark piece begun in Kings of Paradise Haunting and complex, with graphic and violent events, Kings of Ash burns itself into the reader s mind Emotional, heartbreaking, and bloody This book is Ruka s nearly in its entirety It is the missing narrative that tells Ruka s tale in the time between his first discovering the northern islands, when prince Kale Alaku was but an infant, and the time of his return whi Kings of Ash is a searing second installment from Richard Nell continuing the epic grimdark piece begun in Kings of Paradise Haunting and complex, with graphic and violent events, Kings of Ash burns itself into the reader s mind Emotional, heartbreaking, and bloody This book is Ruka s nearly in its entirety It is the missing narrative that tells Ruka s tale in the time between his first discovering the northern islands, when prince Kale Alaku was but an infant, and the time of his return while Kale is months away from his home, sent to Nanzu in the north by his father king Farahi The time lines are converging, the players in this epic fantasy are drawing closer together and the clash, filled with arcane power, is inevitable.There is no way to describe the plot without spoilers for book one, so this isabout the characters than the story arc Kings of Ash is a straight on continuation of events in Kings of Paradise and so muchThis is a character based story, the thoughts, feelings, actions, and abilities of the cast form the intricate and widespread world building Ruka s journey of knowledge while in Pyu and beyond is detailed and takes center stage while we also get a look into the past of King Farahi, his sister Kikay, and the events that shaped Kale s life, shaped Pyu, and shaped his father, the sorcerer king of the islands Ruka is from the far off southern continent of the Ascom It is a poor land with poor people, cold, harsh, and ruled by a matriarchal society Ruka knew only the harshest kind of life as a child with his mother, but she loved him fiercely before her death in his adolescence After a time as an outcast and an outlaw where he becomes a ruthless killer seeking revenge for her death, he has become a rune shaman of the Ascom, wielding his knowledge of his mother s book of sacred runes to influence and lead outcast or outlawed men He constantly remembers her words telling him that he can conquer the world He gathers men who are displaced, not chosen by women and outcast in Ascom chiefdoms and had created a following of loyal men, then sought revenge against the priestess and law keepers who he feels are responsible for his mother s death.The deformed Noss touched giant with an eidetic memory, Ruka had only known love as a child, but soon learns the evil of men, then of death and betrayal He is a single born child Rare in a land where most mothers give birth to twins His rage against those who would harm him, is so great and brutal that Ruka s personality has split in two, compartmentalized and divided, and he carries his brother, a raging demon of violence, Bukayag, within his mind The two converse frequently throughout his narrative Excerpt He let the cold sea spray catch his face as he leaned off the ship He reached his hand to wipe his eyes and felt the flesh curved and wrinkled on his brow He felt down past the lumpy cheeks to a bulging jaw, crooked teeth exposed and locked He supposed Bukayag was smiling One can only imagine the suffering of a man who cannot forget a single moment of the pain, cold, brutality and starvation he has endured Each sight and sound he has ever experienced is always with him Every horror he has witnessed, every loss suffered, every killing blow dealt, is as if it were just yesterday Time cannot heal his heart or quell his rage Ruka has built a place within his mind to which he retreats, the grove, where he has rebuilt his mother s house and it is populated by the dead Every single person he has killed The dead work for him there in silence, tending gardens, digging graves for those he kills, working the forge, building things as Ruka discovers a wealth of knowledge in the North, and he goes there to both rest and work, often while his body is in Buyaka s control Ruka does his best to restrain his berserker brother s constant urge to simply kill, but when the rage begins or there are life and death fights to be fought, he lets Bukayag have free reign Ruka has found what he considers paradise in the warm and lush, fertile lands of the north in Pyu When the monks of island of Bato agree to let him train as an initiate, he discovers that the runes he learned from the Galdric book of the Order, are also within the temple of the monks there He has found his people s origins in Bato and what he feels is their birthright The richness of life in Pyu, the island paradises, knowledge, and culture he feels should also belong to the oppressed men of Ascom He is bent on conquering the world and giving it to his people.Where most books of this size and scope could have easily fallen off in pace and content, Richard Nell instead takes it up a notch higher quite deftly The story is unpredictable and addictive, proving Ash and Sand will be a series of surpassing excellence


About the Author: Richard Nell

Richard Nell concerned family and friends by quitting his real job in 2014 to write full time He is a Canadian author of fantasy, living in one of the flattest, coldest places on earth with his begrudging wife, who makes sure he eats.His debut novel, Kings of Paradise, is the first of an epic, coming of age, low fantasy trilogy, and a Canadianbest seller in dark fantasy It s available now.He also writes flintlock fantasy Join his mailing list for news on finished work, freebies, and the occasional philosophical rant.


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