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Friday, January 15, 2016

Ash and Silver By Carol Berg

by Sharon Tucker

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

Committing to read an unfamiliar fantasy author always gives me pause at the outset. However, this author has gone to great lengths to create a unique world peopled by mages, not-quite-human creatures, rulers, knights, and ordinaries who use unfamiliar terms and live in lands that resemble what we know, but have enough of an unfamiliar cast that they seem new.

I feel that a contract exists between the reader and writer. As a reader, I will learn your language, and if need be, take notes to keep words and characters straight. As the writer, you must make the journey worth taking, show me something splendid, make me long to be in a place where idealism runs rampant and treachery can finally be overcome, and introduce me to a sensuous world I can almost taste and dream about.


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Ash and Silver, second in the Sanctuary series by Carol Berg, worked for me. This was my first time reading one of her novels, and plunging into the world of Navronne has been most rewarding. My patience for starting ‘in medias res’ was not tried since the action from the previous novel, Dust and Light, is gradually, but briefly recapped.

Her hero, Greenshanks, is a man in the midst of a severe period of training to become a perfect weapon for the military order known as the Equites Cinere. He will become a wielder of magic in the service of his divided and ailing country. His past has been erased from his memory, so he can be without loyalty to family or faction; both of which have all but destroyed Navronne.

Now you may ask yourself, “How interesting can a man without a past be in a fantasy novel because family, associates, and the past, in general, are the accepted underpinnings of creating a fantasy world?" Greenshanks has been in training for two years and does know quite a bit about the order, his comrades, and superiors, as well as, the fact that he can wield magic of a sort. He has retained everything about himself except memory of his origins and events of his personal and family history. The operative question here becomes “Why would anyone submit to such harsh rigor and a selective memory wipe?”

Other readers may have other answers, but I concluded that such a loss removes personal bias and loyalties that would interfere with the altruistic motives of the order.



Image source: Roc

If you think all is perfect within the order, fairly early on that particular misconception is exploded. Another ever-present conflict in Ash and Silver is Navronne is in dire straits. A cataclysmic event, occurring sometime in the fairly recent past, has changed everything. Navronne’s future also doesn't look promising unless Greenshanks can make sense of his purpose by completing his training, eluding those who would use him for other purposes, and fulfilling any promises he made (which he cannot remember) to the people he keeps encountering who know him as he is sent out on training missions.

I enjoyed the time I spent in Navronne and look forward to reading more of her series, duets, and novels of the Collegia Magica. In Ash and Silver I particularly enjoyed the structure and logic of the story, but it is the character Greenshanks that kept me reading. I wanted to go on the journey with him to recapture his lost memories and to see why he was so important to his world. The emotional nexus around him was compelling and the world he inhabited was one I could live in happily. I’m grateful Carol Berg fulfilled her contract.

To enter to win a copy of Ash and Silver, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “ash,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 23, 2016. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL:



Sharon Tucker is former faculty at the University of Memphis in Memphis TN, and now enjoys evening supervising in that campus library. Having forsworn TV except for online viewing and her own movies, she reads an average of 3 to 4 books per week and has her first novel---a mystery, of course---well underway.



2 comments:

  1. I read the review, and am quite intrigued by combining sci-fi themes with the paranormal. It is enticing enough to make me pause reading "cozies" and take time to read some science fiction. kat8762@aol.com

    ReplyDelete