SFINCS Review: A Prelude to Ashes by Thiago Abdalla

Today’s review is about A PRELUDE TO ASHES by Thiago Abdalla. It’s a prequel novella set 100 years before The Ashes of Avarin series. Packed with action, those who prefer a focus on politicking and battle scheming should check it out.

This review is brought to you by my participation in the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”, is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.). I am part of Team Behind the Musings. You can find out more about us here.

A Prelude to Ashes by Thiago Abdalla

Author: Thiago Abdalla
Series: The Ashes of Avarin #0.5
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: May 28, 2022
Print Length: 144
Purchase: Bookshop.org

Official Synopsis

Prince Adrian has a secret.

He has been meeting with Myrra, the princess of Dakhra. They love each other, but their fathers are mortal enemies, and Dakhra is not a part of the Domain.

The rulers of the Domain nations have been granted hundreds of years by the blessings of the Seraph, and their borders are kept safe by the Church’s elite griffin riders. But the enemies of the Domain are gathering.

A foreign threat may be the chance Adrian and Myrra need to bring their nations closer… if they can convince their fathers to work together.

Will new enemies be enough for rivals to overcome old grievances, or will they bring them closer to war?

A Prelude to Ashes is a prequel novella that takes place one hundred years before the events of A Touch of Light, the first book in the Ashes of Avarin series.

My Review

A PRELUDE TO ASHES packs quite a punch of politicking and battling into a neat novella package. Set 100 years before the main book series, the reader follows Prince Adrian as he tries to secretly broker peace between the Domain and Dakhra. Admittedly the peace is somewhat self serving since he is secretly seeing Myrra, the princess of Dakhra. But peace is important as a whole to the religion of the Domain.

Technically, one can read this novella as a standalone. However, it took me almost the whole novella to more or less keep straight the warring nations and their religions. I did feel a little bit as if I was dropped into the thick of things, particularly with respect to keeping up with the secret politics and battle planning. But I fully admit others may be able to pick up on geography and retain battle maneuvering better than me. It also seemed to happen relatively quickly, which left me wishing these scenes had more time to breathe and develop.

I also felt similarly about Prince Adrian’s characterization. It’s easy to understand his cynicism and bitterness. Yet he comes off as, frankly, a bit whiney. And yes, I do recognize that anyone in his position has a right to be that way.

However, despite my subjective opinions, overall this was a good read. My favorite aspect of A PRELUDE TO ASHES was the religion of the Domain. The whole concept sounded fascinating and unique to me. I would have liked to learn more in this novella, though I’m sure one can get more details in the main trilogy. Plus there are griffins and griffin riders who are elite fighters that keep the Domain safe. I always love the inclusion of mythical animals. In summary, A PRELUDE TO ASHES would certainly pique the interest of readers who prefer a healthy helping of scheming and battle planning ominously laced through with religion.

Rating: withheld
Content warnings: blood, death
Reading format: Kindle e-book

One thought on “SFINCS Review: A Prelude to Ashes by Thiago Abdalla

Leave a Reply