A Heart Of Blood And Ashes by Milla Vane

Title: A Heart Of Blood And Ashes [A Gathering Of Dragons #1]

Author: Milla Vane

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Historical Romance

Trigger: Violence, abuse, References to rape


A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil–until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones–because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…

Let me start by saying this novel has been sitting on my shelf for two years. The pages have already begun to turn yellow. I’m attempting to read the books I already have instead of buying more. Strange, I know. Have you ever heard of a bibliophile not buying books? We shall see how long this plight lasts. A Heart Of Blood And Ashes is an adventure confined between the lines of 534 pages.

The story occurs just as the current alliance between nations is corrupted and crumbling. Maddek becomes embroiled in their schemes after Yevenne sends a letter to his parents. Ultimately this leads to Maddeks parents’ deaths.

Maddek of the Parsatheans is a warrior of integrity and kindness. He upholds himself to Parsatheans’ views as the ideal soldier. As he should, considering he’s technically a prince. What I loved about Maddek was that his kindness was not endless. He understood that doing the ‘right’ thing was not always good, and doing a ‘good’ thing was not always right. He knew how to laugh and how to cry. Displaying his emotions was not a slight on him as a man or warrior but a part of being human.

The anger and hurt he experienced when he learned of how his parents died colored how he viewed Yevenne for a long time. At first, I was understanding because who would trust someone from the same family that murdered your family. Still, after a while, it felt like overkill.

Yvenne had suffered through so much already, and I felt for her. The abuse she suffered at the hands of her father and brothers would weaken even the strongest of stomachs. I wanted her to be happy. I had to keep reminding myself that as a reader, I knew things Maddek did not. She’s careful, sly, and treacherous not by choice but as a means to survive. She’s also kind, compassionate, and wise. She was born to be a queen and save her people from her father’s tyranny. She intended to wed Maddek or bare his seed because she could not claim her queendom otherwise.

Yvenne and Maddek come together as an uneasy allies in an attempt to have their vengeance against the ones who have taken everything from them. They did not expect to find love.Though I complain that Maddek took to long to see past his anger and grief there is really no time limit on how long it lasts. No one can judge how long it takes too heal or to trust again. There is a sort a realism in their relationship despite the sci-fi background it takes place in.

The plot of the novel played a huge in captivating me. Like Yvenne, I was seeing things for the first time. I fell in love with the world. I was drawn in with elements of sci-fi and magic, gods and goddesses. For two days, I no longer lived in this modern world but in forests and deserts, in cities surrounded by white stone walls, and on boats that crossed the ocean like a swan. I slept on furs and rode horses. I fought off blood wraiths and poisoned Siva beasts. It was all so very believable.

By the end I wanted to keep reading. I wanted their story to go on forever. If that doesn’t tell you that A Heart Of Blood And Ashes is a great read than I don’t know what will. 

Until the next page,