Review: Memories of Ash (Sunbolt, #2) by Intisar Khanani @booksbyintisar

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In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

The long-awaited sequel to Ms. Khanani’s Sunbolt did not disappoint. Despite being more than three times as long as the predecessor, it didn’t feel that way to me. The story zipped by and I had reached the end before I realized. All the things that made me love the first story were here—the action, the diversity, the complex morality—and it was absolutely fantastic.

The plot:

I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t what I got. We find Hitomi once again on a quest to save someone and stopping at nothing to see her mission complete. We’re taken into new areas of the world, meet new cultures and characters. It was an exciting journey that rushed me through the story on the edge of my seat.

This book delves even deeper into the political complexities of the world and the mysteries surrounding Hitomi’s parents. Some things were answered, but more questions were raised and it’s going to be a long wait for the next book!

The characters:

Hitomi is one of my favorite characters simply for her sheer compassion. She is the embodiment of selflessness while still being hardcore. Resourceful and cunning, she uses her powers for good and stands for the oppressed. Unfortunately, that means she often gets into scrapes and suffers for her beliefs. (Without which there wouldn’t be much of a story, but made me feel terrible for her.)

We do meet an array of new characters and a few familiar ones return. I was thrilled to see Valerius again and was pleasantly surprised when other characters made their way back as well. I did grow frustrated when characters weren’t willing to take certain risks for Hitomi when she had repeatedly risked everything for them. However, in hindsight, I think that was realistic. Most people don’t have the guts and there would have been larger repercussions for helping her in the way I wanted.

This book leaves off with a bittersweet sense of both loss and victory. It undoubtedly has hope, but it also NEEDS a sequel. I can’t wait to see where this series leads!

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4 Comments

  1. I was mostly offline this weekend for a writing retreat (woohoo!) and missed this lovely review–thank you so much, Elisabeth! I am so thrilled that you enjoyed MoA so much. I do love Hitomi’s sense of compassion, and her optimism. (Not in the annoying always-cheerful way, but in that she almost never gives up–she just changes her plans and keeps trying.) Thanks again!

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