Peace in Wroge came at a priceThe cost WarWroge was divided by the Saive War The Arneuton kingdom enslaved the Keltir clans into their invasion, and swept across the territory, converting and conscripting the weak, culling the strong Five Years of war, the blood of four races, millions of deaths The Arneut conquered The Keltir were released from their imprisonment, but the Vikir and Narz were forever banished from Wroge s bordersDraven fought for peace He fought another man s war and paid for his freedom in blood But even peace comes with its price Taxes to another man s king Draven s fight might have ended with the Saive War, but the struggle to afford safety for his family is far from overWhen the Vikir threaten Wroge s northern border they come with a debt of their own And it s not taxes they re after They come because of the Keltir s betrayal in the Saive War They come from bloodBut Wroge s fate won t be decided by ageing warriors and old grudges The lives of four young men, divided by peace, united by conflict, will shape the future of the war torn land It Began With Ashes is the story of how life s greatest struggle is to accept who you are a tale of broken promises, bitter grudges, and brotherhoods bound in blood First of all The author gave me this book for free in exchange for a review.Having read D.E.M Emrys short story From Man to Man first, I thought like a lot of people who reviewed this book that Draven, or at least Nicolas, the Arneuton Tax Collector, would play a rather big role in the book, but this was not the case.Instead of having the story center around a rather classical protagonist, a middle aged ex mercenary looking for a new way of life, It Began With Ashes takes us into a world o First of all The author gave me this book for free in exchange for a review.Having read D.E.M Emrys short story From Man to Man first, I thought like a lot of people who reviewed this book that Draven, or at least Nicolas, the Arneuton Tax Collector, would play a rather big role in the book, but this was not the case.Instead of having the story center around a rather classical protagonist, a middle aged ex mercenary looking for a new way of life, It Began With Ashes takes us into a world of war seen from four childrens point of view.Draven s son, Kale, wishes nothingthan to one day be as strong as his father, and to fight gloriously with a sword.His friend Deule, in the face of a harsh life, does something no one would have thought possible.The Tax Collector s young son, Astartes , doesn t plan to become a tax collector.And finally Damien, a young peddler who can create green fire from thin air.Few fantasy author s choose this angle to portray their world s, and I applaus Emrys for having done it Instead of being another dull story of an ex merc s search for redemption I ve read too many of them , we see a bunch of 12 year olds trying to figure out what s their place in life, and what s happening around them.Seeing the world of politics and war around them though their eyes was a very strong aspect of the book and amongst the points I enjoyed most.Characters are Emrys forte He portrays them vividly and layered, and I wish the book had been longer anddetailed so I could have gotten to know them better especially Deule, who remained rather sketchy.Being a short book just abut 200 pages , especially for a fantasy book, there wasn t that much story inside I was rather disappointed when the book ended, not only because I wanted to know the rest, but also because I felt that the book was incomplete as a novel It was rather an episode of a longer tale It s just a preference of mine, but I dislike episodic tales I don t have a problem with cliffhangers per se, but I like my novels to have enough meat so I don t have the feeling that I read a chapter instead of a book.What bothered me most in this book was something I couldn t overlook messy exposition It Began With Ashes being the first book in a series set in a fantasy world yet unknown to the readers, Emrys naturally had to introduce all the different social groups.Unfortunately, I didn t agree with the way he did it Instead of letting the reader guess and think on his her own, he lets the characters explain to each other which clan is which.And mostly, it sounded much like this A Can you believe we once fought a war against the Germans B Who are they again A Oh, they re the beer drinking folk with no humor Now, in the case of A and B, it s quite incredible that A would just shrug B s lack of knowledge about WW2 off like that without even rolling his eyes In the case of the characters from It Began With Ashes, I was rather surprised by the enormous lack of knowledge some of these people possessed As far as I understand, the War in their world happened only 12 years ago, no And still they don t seem to recall who it was they fought against That s just ridiculously stupid, if they really didn t know, or just the author being as subtle as a tank about his exposition.I was not impressed with the way he threw huge chunks of information at me without even letting me guess once And sadly, it happened quite a few times, which annoyed me to no end.All in all, the book would have deserved a sparkling 4 star rating if it hadn t been for the incredibly irritating telling instead of showing I liked the book and I hope that now that every last bit of information was thrown at me, the next book in the series won t have the same flaw Great book Well written characters with a story that flows naturally one scene into another The author introduces the reader to the history of our characters and their land gradually, and the action makes sense in the context of the overall tale I look forward to reading this series going forward. In the inspired style of David Gemmell, or Robert Howard, D Emrys takes the minimalist approach to his stories By that, I mean he lets the story speak for itself Dialogue and action are the foundations of the world and story, rather than detailed description or extensive world building facts It can be a tricky approach to pull off, and most who attempt the strategy end up either losing their true writing voice or falling into simplicity Fortunately for D Emrys, the strategy mostly pays off In the inspired style of David Gemmell, or Robert Howard, D Emrys takes the minimalist approach to his stories By that, I mean he lets the story speak for itself Dialogue and action are the foundations of the world and story, rather than detailed description or extensive world building facts It can be a tricky approach to pull off, and most who attempt the strategy end up either losing their true writing voice or falling into simplicity Fortunately for D Emrys, the strategy mostly pays off and we readers are treated to a fully realized fantasy world replete with the mental and emotional maturity I demand from my modern fantasy reads When I imagine the author sitting down and drawing the beginning of the story, I don t imagine himself asking what the story will be like, or what will happen in the plot Instead, I imagine him sitting down and asking what do I want my readers to feel Because ultimately, I think this a bookabout feeling than happening Sure stuff happens, there s a body count, fire, etc , but the book is really about relationships Relationships between father and son, between friends, and between complete strangers it is how those relationships are formed and tested by traumatic events spiraling out of control that really make up the meat of the book The world building and the swords n sorcery all show their respective faces to christen the book fantasy, but at its heart, its a people book which caresabout the participants rather than the events themselves, and that makes the book greater than the sum of its parts.Disclaimer NoticeD.E.M Emrys is a Goodreads friend of mine, but I attempted to make my rating and review as honest as possible At no time did the author attempt to persuade me to read or review his book. The Arneuton kingdom conquered the Keltir clans These clans had to betray their allies in this war to ensure their own survival It is easy to figure out the former allies, Vikir and Narz are not happy For now it is peaceful in the expanded kingdom except that there is no love lost between Arneuton natives and the clans Things are also quiet in the small village of Hearth, home to people from one of the clans, Torne however the internal and external tensions are about to break the fragile The Arneuton kingdom conquered the Keltir clans These clans had to betray their allies in this war to ensure their own survival It is easy to figure out the former allies, Vikir and Narz are not happy For now it is peaceful in the expanded kingdom except that there is no love lost between Arneuton natives and the clans Things are also quiet in the small village of Hearth, home to people from one of the clans, Torne however the internal and external tensions are about to break the fragile peaceThe book follows a family of Draven from Hearth and tax collector and his son of Arneuton It is fairly short a rarity in modern fantasy , but does a good job of world building and introducing interesting dynamic characters this is in my opinion a real strength of the book The end of the book concludes the things nicely while still keeping enough subplots open for a sequel This is fast paced, fun book which serves as a good start to a new series As I already mentioned, I am very impressed with how much the book manages to accomplish in about 200 pages Considering the fact that this is author s first book, I respect his skill of keeping the story short and to the point without giving a reader a feeling of being rushed This is something a lot of established authors have yet to learn 4 very solid stars, heck even 4.5 stars for a very good first effort