Review: Age of Ash (Kithamar #1) by Daniel Abraham

Rating: 9/10

From New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author Daniel Abraham, co-author of the Expanse, comes a monumental epic fantasy trilogy that unfolds within the walls of a single great city, over the course of one tumultuous year, where every story matters, and the fate of the city is woven from them all.

Kithamar is a centre of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold. This is Alys’.

When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why. But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.

Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything.

‘An atmospheric and fascinating tapestry, woven with skill and patience’ – Joe Abercrombie, author of A Little Hatred

‘This outstanding series debut… instantly hooks readers with dual mysteries… Readers will eagerly anticipate the sequel’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Kithamar is a spectacular creation, a city brought to life by dance, intricate worldbuilding and subtle magic. Fans of Scott Lynch… will enjoy this one’ – Django Wexler, author of Ashes of the Sun


Something stirs dark in the Heart of Kithimar itself. An abandoned sister seeking revenge for the loss of her brother, a man that was respected in his community. Murderous Princes vie for the throne of Kithimar, and priestesses, monks and figured shadows all have a role to play in this world of treachery and deceit. Another woman makes her own path throughout this novel. This novel is a bit of a slow burn, but when it picks up the pace, it becomes really good.

Summarising this plot would take some time. But the gist is, that Allys embarks on a journey that changes her forever. It exposes the rot of Kithimar’s rich nobility, and that their ideas and ideals of the order are nothing more than devices meant to hold them forever in their power. Corruption runs deep in this city. I was impressed by Daniel’s ability to include a ton of worldbuilding for each region of the city that I went into. Be it Longhill, Greenhill and many such locations. I think this novel would have benefited from a glossary – which would be very helpful for the locations and names of other cities. There is a rich array of characters, a rich display of action, and sometimes, even fantastic moments of prose that is hard to replicate anywhere else.

What I liked about this novel the most is that each character has their own motives and their own agendas. And it doesn’t need to contrast with Allys’s personality. However, I did sometimes end up disliking Allys purely because her quest to discover the truth behind her brother’s murder lead her into dark avenues that made her eviler than anything else. But she is young, and at that age, grief can drive any person mad. Sammish was a terrific character that often was far more opportunistic, making her own moves, and driving the story forward. This story is so rich, deep, and complex that at times I am amazed it is has been amazingly written. Really, this is a great novel.

Review: The Engineer (A Chronicles of Actaeon Story #1) by Darran M Handshaw (Escapist Book Tours)


The Engineer: A Chronicles of Actaeon Story eBook : Handshaw, Darran M: Kindle Store

Book Blurb:

“We are born in the shadow of fading memories and fallen dreams, living our days within the decaying bones of an age long gone.”

When the Engineer, Actaeon, arrives at Pyramid in the heart of Redemption, nothing goes according to plan. Mysterious raiders pursue him relentlessly across the shattered remains of the ancient metropolis, and the leaders of his homeland pay no heed to his ambitious ideas. Meanwhile, deep beneath Pyramid, a deadly creature stirs. And, when Actaeon meets a skilled young Knight Arbiter with brilliant blue eyes, he starts down a path he could never have imagined.

The vast, fallen city of the Ancients is home to a new people who face the constant struggle to find resources needed to survive in the dangerous ruins. For the Engineer, however, Redemption is a treasure trove of technology, opportunity, and answers. But his unique skills make him a target for those who would use his talents to achieve their own dreams of power and control.

In his endless quest for the truth, will Actaeon discover the fallen city’s greatest secrets? Or will he share the same fate as the Ancients of whom nothing remains but a whisper?

One thing is certain: in Redemption, everything comes with a cost.

Book Information:

The Engineer by Darran Handshaw
Chronicles of Actaeon
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, LitRPG (based on events in a game)
Intended Age Group:
Pages: 600
Self-Published (The Engineer’s Press)


Content/Trigger Warnings:

Shown on Page:

  • Violent Battle Scenes
  • Gore
  • Child Death



Thank you to Escapist Book Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour!

This is a great and terrific book with hints of dystopian fiction. The Engineer is quite a big medium that focuses on many aspects of fiction, it is on the one hand, fantasy. It is on the other, sci-fi. At times it gives me a Han Solo Vibe, and during the other, it can revert to a more archaic fantasy style that you’re more familiar with. This is Hungar Games mixed with Wheel of Time in a way. Just in terms of events and such. I like many parts of this novel, and there are some parts I think could have been improved upon. For a 700 page book, this is a worthy story to sink down and get immersed into a new world. I didn’t find a glossary which would have helped a lot, as sometimes the worldbuilding became a little confusing for me, but that was because a glossary for me would have helped.

Some scenes could have been shorter, and some parts of the story could have been thinner on a scale. Given that this is the first book, it happens as this novel does a good job of introducing the world to you. That’s what a first book does in a trilogy. And the world-building is exceptionally good. You do get to feel for nations and characters, you do get to see different identities, and it very much plays out in the style of a video game in many respects. This is, after all, a new world in which the Engineer finds himself in. This is his story. And you experience all that he has to offer.

Though I was initially confused with the Engineer. On the one hand, he’s a great orator, a man of humble words, someone that gets what he wants. He can charm, he can convince, he can get people to like him. But on the other he becomes a character of profession and knowledge, and that contrast somehow wasn’t developed well enough. At times he would turn into a Jack Sparrow roguish figure. So I would have wanted a more clearer personality in my opinion. But it is still an amazing novel, and it has all the elements of a great book. The opening chapter itself reminded me of Uncle Iroh being escorted by Earth Kingdom Guards, and well, that’s a clue. Overall, it’s an epic story that you have to read! I would 100% recommend this!

Book Links:

The Engineer:

The Machine in the Mountain (part of the Quantum Soul Anthology):


Author Bio & Information:

Darran M. Handshaw is the author of The Engineer – his debut novel. In addition to writing, Darran works as an R&D Engineer where he designs and invents new products and holds more than 20 patents. In his spare time, Darran is also a firefighter and EMT with his local fire department where he was recently elected as Assistant Fire Chief. When Darran isn’t writing, inventing things, or responding to emergencies, he enjoys his time with his wife, Stefanie, and son, Corwin.

Amazon Author Page:

Review: Disappearance of a Scribe by Dana Stabenow (Eye of Isis #2)

‘Stabenow brings Alexandria’s Hellenistic period to life… She is now as much at home in ancient Egypt as she is in the Alaskan wilderness’ Publishers Weekly ALEXANDRIA, 47 BC.

Cleopatra – seventh of her name, avatar of the goddess Isis, ruler of the Kingdom of Egypt – watches over her city. The war is over, but Alexandria, that once great beacon of learning and commerce, has suffered in its wake. Caesar has returned to Rome, and the queen must restore her city and her kingdom to their former greatness.

But now a body has been found floating upright at the bottom of the sea, anchored in place by a cement weight around its feet. It’s the second corpse to be found this way in two years, and the queen is concerned.

With a city to rebuild and a kingdom to keep in line, Cleopatra cannot allow any more murders to interfere. So she sets Tetisheri – her Eye, her closest confidant and personal investigator – to make things right. As she delves deeper into the mystery, Tetisheri will discover secrets, conspiracy and danger far beyond her ken…

‘Stabenow is blessed with a rich prose style and a fine eye for detail. Outstanding’ Washington Post

‘A first-rate talent… offering fine writing and keen humour’ Booklist

‘Gripping and adrenaline-charged… Surprising twists all delivered with Stabenow’s razor-sharp suspense and gritty prose’ Publishers Weekly


The disappearance of a Scribe is a vivid insight into the story of the Eye of Cleopatra, Tetisheri investigating the missing body of a young man, a scribe perhaps that had potential. Who or what this man was, I shall leave it to you to figure out. This is a fantastic book for worldbuilding in many ways, as it brings alive the Hellenistic World in a way that is often left out to mainstream readers. Alexandria in Cleopatra’s time was one of the most vibrant cities of all time and was a cultural gateway connecting Romans, Greeks and other neighbours from different kingdoms. It was also the time of political warfare, espionage and Roman incursion that was ever-increasing into the Ptolemaic Kingdom as of this time.

You will experience a totally different world and through the eyes of Tetisheri, you will meet characters that although maybe thousands of years old to us, are actually just as common as those of us that live in the 21st century. Many times I was taken back by the vivid description of the Alexandrian city, as it provides much of the backdrop of the story. Tetisheri has to deal with many vibrant characters, some that are jealous, some that are conniving, and some that plan to get rid of her. What she uncovers, is a more sinister plan. Or is it really? Does the pursuit of corruption drive good men and women to cause evil acts? This is also a question worth asking.

I shall not reveal the plot, as this is an investigative crime thriller set in the Ancient World and I welcome such novels! We need more of this, and this book reminds me a lot of Colleen McCullough’s novels. Great writing, great delivery, and great score. I really enjoyed my time with this book and can’t wait to read more of this wonderful novel.

Rating: 9/10