ASH PRINCESS is the first in Laura Sebastian’s trilogy. This post CONTAINS SPOILERS.
If you would like to read the spoiler free post click here. To begin, here is the summary and a quick review before the extended review:
Summary: Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.
For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.
For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
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Why I was interested: I purchased AP when I was at YALLFEST this past November in a flurry of purchasing every book I knew I was interested in at Blue Bicycle Books (and it’s signed!). I had planned on waiting as I knew I was going to the event, but I always had been interested in AP — it just solidified when I got to the Blue Bicycle Books Friday afternoon and heard Sebastian speak at the royalty panel (which was really great and led by Renée Ahdieh).
Judge a book by it’s cover: The cover really gets the concept of the book now that I’ve read it. At first I thought it was a cool looking crown, but now I know better. And you will too once you read it.
What to expect: Laura Sebastian described this book as her Slytherin Sansa Stark book during her interview with Christopher Paolini. That’s a pretty good description, I think. The pace is really great and while it seems like a lot of court politics, it’s very active and edge-of-your-seat. There is death, murder, and whipping, forewarning. It can get brutal but it’s very clever. (Also, there is a Marina, which made me super excited as I never see my name or something similar in books ever with the exception of Mareena in RED QUEEN)
Why you should pick this book up: If you are a Game of Thrones fan, Sansa Stark fan, like a good Slytherin main character — this book is for you. If you have any interest in a magical Mediterranean land (which personally really interested me) or like when captive characters rebel against the conquerors, then pick this up today.
Want more?: If you have read ASH PRINCESS, its sequel LADY SMOKE has been published.
ATTENTION: IF YOU HAVE YET TO READ ASH PRINCESS do not continue reading. The following contains spoilers for the book.
Media Gal Reads’ Review:
Laura Sebastian’s ASH PRINCESS is a very well-paced and clever book featuring a remarkably strong main character. This book is not an easy read with violence that made me shocked quite often, but if it were not for its violence that is inspired by history, we would not root for Theo as much as we do.
AP is ultimately about a captured princess trying to rebel against the king who invaded and reigns her homeland of Astrea. The relationships between her and the invaders are complicated: Theo’s best friend’s father killed her mother and now she is starting to have feelings for the Kaiser’s son who is supposed to be her enemy.
But the relationships between her and fellow Astreans are also strained as they do not fully trust Theo after living in the palace among the Kalovaxians for the last ten years and her killing the man who led the rebellion and just might have been her biological father. Theo is drastically in the middle of the feuds and as much as she would like to seperate Thora and Theo, she is unable to as both of those personas ultimately create her character.
Theo is brave and endures the cruelty by the sick Kaiser and she will ultimately do anything to potentially free her people including kill her best friend and the prince if necessary. The audience may or may not fully agree with every decision Theo makes and some may even feel like a mistake, but there is not a moment where we doubt why she makes them and so we can empathise and understand with her actions.
Theo is ultimately a truly complex character based on her relationships with others — both the Kalovaxians and fellow Astreans — and her goals to free Astrea. The stakes are high in ASH PRINCESS and it never feels less than an on-the-edge-of-your-seat threat. Laura Sebastian crafted a clever tale and I look forward to see where the rest of the trilogy leads Theo.
What did you think of Laura Sebastian’s ASH PRINCESS? I’d love to hear your comments below!