Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders–skilled at alchemy–who must compete at The Races–the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.
Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they’ve raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That’s all legal and encouraged.
In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!
When you read a tagline that has “Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races…”, both of which are books you LOVE, it makes you think you have to know what this book is all about. I can’t say I see the Red Rising resemblance, BUT I do see The Scorpio Races with a bit more fire.
This book easily keeps you reading. I love how action driven this one was (a difference in my usual choices). The three POVs are all unique voices and really drive the desperation each one has to win The Races. What I found odd at first, yet really vibed with as the story went one was the difference in narration from the others. I think it would be more fun to not go into more detail, but it really adds to the personalities in how it was written.
World-building was totally awesome. The phoenix [horses] are killed each night, and rise each day under new conditions. There’s thousands of combinations to give your horse more speed, armor, better heart and lungs, the possibilities are endless. I love how the alchemy and magic system worked for these. I was a bit confused by the addition of gods into the story? They definitely played a part, but felt a bit disjointed. I kept feeling like they were added only to move the plot along because it needed a boost from somewhere.
I loved all of the characters for a variety of reasons. Imelda is the true underdog with a thorn in her side and something to prove. The choices she makes ultimately lead to larger consequences that will be a big deal in book two. Adrian is the saucy son of the rebellion who’s trying to win for his people. Lastly, Pippa, the daughter of two former winners who’s meant to win, supposed to win, and destined to win. Because of the intricacies of styles it was very easy to know which chapter you were in and who was speaking. I appreciated that it wasn’t muddled whatsoever.
Full of action and seriously not sure who was going to win. The race was exciting, with a touch of mystery and plenty of magic. The bigger politics of the society made the phoenix races that much more important and the story that much more enchanting.
Overall audience notes:
- Young adult fantasy
- Language: none
- Romance: none
- Violence: fire, physical, whips, guns, swords, battle/skirmishes