In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan
Published by Orbit and Out Now
As above, so below. There is a struggle above. King and Parliament vie for power. Below, there is rebellion in the faerie realm and the Onyx Court. And in a humble bakery in London’s Pudding Lane, a spark will ignite and force all, Roundhead and Cavalier, human and fae, to set aside their differences to save their homes from annihilation.
Brennan’s mastery of mixing history with her faerie world was tested in Midnight Never Come. But as important as the history was Brennan was free their to build a love story around the events without the being tied too strongly to fixed dates and events.
This time history is front and centre though she’s left plenty of room for development the story is constrained by the timing and movement of historical events.
In order to split things up and also to show more sustained development Brennan switches from the slow burning events which lead up to the beheading of King Charles and the restoration of Parliament and the Monarchy to the supernatural fight that takes place during the Great Fire of London.
Because of the limitations of the narrative I did find it a slow going. This isn’t to say that it isn’t enjoyable but due to the timescale it had sometimes lacks a sense of urgency to drags you from one event to the next.
Brennan does do an amazing job of weaving parallels between the real world events with the affects on the fae and vice versa.
We meet some new characters and see the return of others. Lune is immortal but Deven is mortal and can not live forever. Instead Lune has chosen a new Prince of Stone, a mortal to help rule at her side. Anthony’s role is more than ceremonial. He’s Lune’s connection with the mortal world and it’s a connection that works both ways. He needs the fae in the real world as well.
Some great touches are explored like Queen Lune and the long shadow of the Queen she replaced in Midnight Never Come and those events lingering influence over Lunes decisions.
Like Mythago Wood this is closer to my idea of fantasy and what I want from a fantasy story. I want a story that has clever ideas, emotional and characters that can be connected with and getting away from the quest stereotypes, though they of course have their own place in fantasy.
Overall, the tone is different from Midnight Never Come but Brennen takes that foundation and expands on it focusing in on historical events but also fleshing out on earlier characters and new challenges. It does require you to be paying a bit of attention, especially during the leaps in time but they are all flagged if you take a little bit of time.
I’m excited to see the next one is called A Star Shall Fall. How teasing is that!
PS: I was lucky enough to meet Marie when she was doing on the ground research for A Star Shall Fall and her schedule for her London trip was exhausting. I’m always a bit worried when meeting and author that I won’t like the book after meeting them.
Thankfully I did end up liking In Ashes Lie, as Marie has a wonderful sense of humour and is a fascinating person to listen to and she showed that what is presented in each novel is just the surface of the attention to detail she has put in to it.