From Cold Ashes Risen by Rob J. Hayes

They say that you know an author by how he finishes a trilogy. I enjoyed the journey through On Razor's Edge and The Lessons Never Learned, two tomes of The War Eternal. As much as I was curious about what was coming Eskara's way, I was quietly keeping fingers crossed that the ending will not disappoint. And now the time has come to conclude the series.

The story starts slower than I expected, but it turns out not to be a bad thing; a certain calm before the plot steamrolls forward. The third book is filled with action, vengeance, and a rollercoaster of emotions. The foreshadowings from previous books are now right before our eyes - we may have had a glimpse of what was coming, but the delivery was the great unknown, and the revelations turned out to be thrilling and satisfying at the same time.

The narrative has given us strategically placed clues without creating an info-dumping effect. Rather, it allowed us to follow Eska's footsteps as she faced the consequences (often heartbreaking) of her decisions, fought for survival, challenged gods, and fulfilled her promise.

I've grown fond of her little rag-tag family and the dynamics between them. Not every decision she made met their approval, they clashed, but, as unforgiving as Eskara can be towards others, there was a mutual will to make amends and to move past what divided them for the sake of their family.

In the ruthless pursuit of her revenge, the protagonist has to make sacrifices, while learning the strength she carries within - not Sserakis', but her inner drive and ability to get through the ordeals that await her. One of my favourite traits of Eska was her relentlessness in becoming more - a constant hunt for the betterment of herself. Be it by learning how to fight to overcome the weakness of the body, pushing her limits when handling Sources, or by developing a bond with the Ancient Horror to leverage strengths of them both.

I mentioned in the review of the second book in the series that I like Sserakis - his portrayal stroke a familiar chord that I couldn't quite recognise until the intricacies of the worldbuilding were revealed. I believe the Ancient Horror is a metaphor for mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression - coiled around one's soul, whispering doubts at every step. Still, one that ultimately can be lived with and even taken control over should an opportunity arise.

I cannot say that I liked Eskara. From the story she told - I may not approve of heir actions, though I can understand her reasons. Her experiences lit the fire in which she forged herself into a formidable force. Every drop of blood she lost, every tear, every heartbreak made her skin thicker. Yet, she was still able to find brief moments of content and laughter.
The thing I noticed is that her language changed throughout the books - from a raging teenager with a very colourful vocabulary in Along The Razor's Edge, to still angry, but more in peace with her life in From Cold Ashes Risen. There might be a different reason for this styling, but I find it quite fitting to the transformation of the character.

In one of the podcasts, Rob mentioned that he's never done anything like The War Eternal before. Honestly, the biggest issue I have when talking about it with my colleagues is that there are only so many ways I can think of in which to praise the author. If there were any doubts, by now, you know that I'm a massive fan of the series - the story is well-paced, engaging, imaginative, and bitter-sweet.
Please read it!



From Cold Ashes Risen On Goodreads

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