Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.A Heart of Blood and Ashes (A Gathering of Dragons, #1) by Milla Vane
Published by Berkley on February 4, 2020
Genres: Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Format: Paperback (534 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
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...
Proceed With Caution:
This book contains violence, blood, death, abuse, and several mentions of rape.
Maddek is commander of the Parsathean warriors and has just learned that his parents, the king and queen, have been executed. He doesn’t believe their crimes, but he also can’t retaliate directly because…politics! However, when attempting to kidnap the daughter of his parents’ murderer, she reveals that she wants revenge against her father and brothers as well, probably more than he does. All he needs to do is marry her, get her pregnant, and let her take the throne. Should Maddek believe her or do things his way?
A Heart of Blood and Ashes was intense. Maddek and Yvenne are intense. Both of them are warriors, but in different ways. They’re both hellbent on revenge and will stop at nothing to get it. Luckily, they have the exact same goal, but that doesn’t mean that they see eye-to-eye. Maddek views Yvenne as a liar, as he’s blinded by rage and grief. Yvenne is small and frail but she will not be pushed around. She pushes back.
I actually just loved Yvenn and Maddek. Separately and together. While she is physically weak, Yvenne has been through hell and back and will do it again to see her father and brothers dead and herself as the rightful queen. She and her mother had been locked away and cast as demons so her corrupt father and his sons could rule. But Yvenne was patient, she waited for the opportune moment and siezed it. Unfortunately, she did get Maddek’s parents killed indirectly, something he must come to terms with.
Meanwhile, Maddek has been in the middle of battles. He’s killed. He’s seen his fellow warriors fall. He is a man who loves deeply even if he doesn’t show it. He is crushed by the death of his parents, but he is honor bound to not retaliate. That doesn’t mean he’s a pushover. Not at all, he just has to go around rather than taking the direct route. His feelings toward Yvenne had me super invested. He hates her, but he wants her. He wants her to become a warrior-queen, and he needs her to help him become the king his people need. Lots of need. Oh yes. Lots of need.
I don’t even really know what to say about A Heart of Blood and Ashes. It was just good. I was way too into these characters. There is an engaging and involved plot, but I was here for Maddek and Yvenne. The more I learned about them and then more I saw them working together, the more I just wanted to smush them together and force them to say those three magical words! Stop being so stoic!
Quotes from A Heart of Blood and Ashes:
“Always slay the monsters first, because enemies may one day become allies–but monsters never will.” (page 3)
“Scars are but stories for a warrior to tell.” (page 171)
“There is no joke in a lie. It dishonors the speaker and insults the listener.” (page 225)