From the Ashes, by Meghan Brunner
First Books, 0759681708, 544 pages (+ glossary and character listing), 2002
Although I’m not a Ren Faire goer myself, being chronically cash-strapped, this book rang very true for me. The differences between a week-long Pagan gathering and a Ren Faire are not that great. I felt, immediately, like I knew these characters.
There were minor typographical errors (missing words, some irregular spacing, and such) but nothing major enough to detract from my enjoyment of Meghan’s crisp and vivid writing style.
By the time I was a quarter of the way through the book I had one major regret – that I only had another 390 pages to go. I already knew that I was going to want more (which is why I am glad to see that this is only the start of a series).
The characters are very vivid and have rapidly become like members of my extended family. I will miss them while I wait for the next instalment in this wonderful series of books.
This is not a children’s fantasy book. It is set firmly in the real world and deals with real-life issues such as sexuality, jealousy, power trips and more. It is not blatantly sexual, but it does not shy away from the topic either.
Although it has Pagan/magickal themes running through it, it is a book, and a series, which should be thoroughly enjoyed by a wide cross section of readers. One does not need a working knowledge of Paganism or magick to understand it. More mundane readers will simply enjoy the stories of personal interaction and growth which a major part of this wonderful book.
The development of characters and plot-lines is very smooth and vivid, and makes the images come alive. I have seldom read a book where I developed an understanding and empathy for the characters as quickly as I did with these people.
Ryna and Phoenix are meant for each other, but neither is sure the other shares those feelings. In the manner of all lovers, they stumble through the opening phases of what each hopes will be a life-long commitment. They brave dangers for each other, often from a single enemy shared though the centuries. They find happiness, share the fear of loss, and find themselves part of a family which offers love and support unconditionally – something Phoenix has looked for all her life. Along the way, as often happens with lovers, they spread their happiness through their circle of friends and acquaintances unconsciously.
Not to give away secrets or spoil anything, I must say that the “initiation” ceremony near the end of the book is profoundly moving, and I wish I could have taken part in it myself.
If you want a fun read, something to take your mind off day-to-day mundania, the price of this book is money well spent. On top of that, the book is available in a variety of formats (Electronic – ISBN 0-7596-8169-4; Rocket – ISBN 0-7596-8172-4; Softcover ISBN 0-7596-8170-8; and Hardcover ISBN 0-7596-8171-6). So, choose how you want the book, then go to www.1stbooks.com and order your copy today.
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Mike Gleason (1951-2012) dedicated his time to sharing his knowledge and opinions with others, and spent years reviewing books for the Pagan, Wiccan, Witch and magickal communities.