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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
The Ashen Prophecy by Michael Morea is an epic fantasy tale that is intricately plotted and brimming with intrigue and conflict. An assassination attempt on the life of the frail king Cato disrupts the peace that the Kingdom of Regulus has enjoyed over the years. Retired General Magnus, “the Phoenix” of Coventa, and his wife, Kera, Knight Commander, are entrusted with the dangerous mission of traveling across the sea with a mercenary to catch the masterminds of the murder attempt on the king. Arriving at the distant Republic of Lyrium, they discover that the balance of life and power has been greatly shaken in the kingdom due to research into a mysterious crystal that produces magic: the elusive terracite. The mages that have lived in this land are being persecuted, and anyone practicing magic faces the same fate: a situation that has displaced families. As Magnus and Kera get embroiled in the tensions between the factions in Lyria, they eventually uncover the origin of the crystals. But a more disastrous event looms ahead: the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy and the return of a powerful entity with revenge. Can they stop fate from taking its course?
There is a lot going on in The Ashen Prophecy, and the author’s meticulous care when it comes to world-building is one of the elements of the story that had me captivated. The intrigue is introduced by the two older children of the Regulan king: Prince Bolus and Princess Seles, whose plans do not involve the welfare of their father. There is a conspiracy taking place in the Republic of Lyrium: a land that is seemingly rich and magical, but that suffers because of the conflict of interests from different factions. The barbarians, known as the Ashen, are led by Janus and those who wield magic. The barbarians want the crystals for a sinister reason. The author features compelling characters and, aside from the excellent lead characters, readers will encounter minor characters with important roles, like those chosen by the ancient prophecy: Elam and Lilith.
Michael Morea is a great writer who transposes conflicts that take place in real life into a fascinating fantasy setting. While reading this novel, I couldn’t help but think about historical situations like the conflict in Rwanda, where foreign powers meddled for their own selfish interests, hunting the gold of the country while factions spilled one another’s blood. The writing in The Ashen Prophesy is exquisitely good and the crisp prose is absorbing, with dialogues that are intelligently crafted, propelling the story forward at a steady pace, and the conflict is just phenomenal. It is an enthralling read.