Updated: Jan 21
From Blood and Ash
by Jennifer L Armentrout
Published by Blue Box Press
Book #1 in the Blood and Ash Series
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy High Fantasy Exciting
Violence Romance Emotional
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout is her first high fantasy novel, and the first book in what will be a series. It centers around Poppy, an eighteen year old woman who is the Maiden, someone who is chosen by the gods. She lives a lonely life, where very few people can see her unveiled, and can speak to her. She can not be touched, and cannot roam around freely, usually cooped up in her room, except for when she is preparing to meet the gods. Under the veil, Poppy is fierce. She sneaks out for adventures, and has one of her guards teach her to fight in secret. One such adventure leads to her meeting Hawke, a guard who is duty-bound to making sure she follows the rules set for the Maiden, and getting her to the Ascension (meeting the gods), whole and worthy. While Hawke constantly makes Poppy think and question the rules, and why she is forced to live her life this way, their feelings for one another grow, despite it being forbidden.
I read that Jennifer L. Armentrout has been sitting on this book for years, unsure if she should write it, because she had never written high-fantasy before, and wasn't sure if it would be good. I am so happy that she finally decided to write it. Jennifer ... never doubt yourself. Because wow. WOW!
I will admit, I don't have a lot of experience with high fantasy novels. For those of you who don't know, high-fantasy is stories based in an imaginary world. Think Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. The only books I have true experience with is Lord of the Rings, which, don't kill me, LoTR fans, is incredibly dry, and if it wasn't for the amazing films, I would have never finished the trilogy. So when I started From Blood and Ash, I found it a bit overwhelming. I forgot that for high-fantasy, there is quite a bit of set up. That being said, things quickly line up, and the story really picks up. From Blood and Ash is absolutely, freaking unique, and I could only imagine how difficult it was to write. The story is consistent, and constantly building, leading to a thrilling climax, and an ending that makes you just want there to be a next book out already (predicted to be out 2021).
Poppy is an intriguing character. Forced to be veiled, covering the top half of her face, and be chaste and godly, under the thick veil, she is a force to be reckoned with. Strong, courageous, and witty, but vulnerable. It's easy to sympathize with her, and question along with her, what is the point? Why is it such an honor to be the Maiden, and be treated like she is? Jennifer has always written fantastic female leads, but Poppy is one of her best. Hawke is equally fascinating. Incredibly skilled, handsome in a way that women flock to him, and intelligent, he has a lot of layers that I know we haven't gotten gotten a chance to see. The side characters who all wonderfully written, especially her personal guard Viktor.
From Blood and Ash is one of those stories that will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat. Different threats all come together, and in the end, leaves our hero, and ourselves, questioning everything. One thing is for certain. Jennifer L Armentrout may entered the world of high-fantasy as a newbie, but she mastered it. With an epic story, in a world that is based in fantasy, but with a touch of reality, and characters with incredibly depth, she has breathed new life in a genre that can be a bit repetitive. One thing is for sure. The next book can not come soon enough.
Hawke and Poppy in the room at The Red Pearl
Poppy stabbing the attacker who killed Rylan
Vikter training Poppy
Hawke becoming Poppy's new guard
Hawke catching Poppy fighting the Craven's, and him telling her she was beautiful, and their swordplay
Vikter and Poppy's father/daughter moment
Hawke catching Poppy at the library, and ready from the dirty diary
Hawke and Poppy sneaking away to the garden during the Rite
Poppy admitting to Vikter that she hopes she is found unworthy
Poppy fighting, and killing Lord Mazeen
Hawke keeping Poppy warm when they were travelling, and helping her relax
Poppy taking away Airrick's pain when he was dying, and Hawke and the others seeing she had the touch.
When they have sex
Hawke and Poppy fighting while the guys place bets on who will win
Casteel and Poppy in the woods after she tried to escape
Where to Buy
Hawke: "Have you been kissed before?"
Oh, gods, was it that obvious?
Poppy: "I have!"
One side of his lips kicked up
Hawke; "Do you always lie?"
Hawke: "Then what should I call you? A name, perhaps?"
Poppy: "I'm ... I'm no one."
Hawke: "No One? What a strange name. Do girls with a name like that often make a habit of wearing other people's clothing?"
Poppy: "I'm not a girl."
Hawke: "I would sure hope not."
Hawke: "The least you you could do is tell me why you didn't stop me."
One side of his lips quirked up
Hawke: "I'm sure it's more than my disarming good looks."
I wrinkled my nose
Poppy: "Of course."
Another short, surprised-sounding laugh left him.
Hawke: "I think you just insulted me."
Chagrined, I winced
Poppy: "That's not what I meant -"
Hawke: "You've wounded me, Princess."
Poppy: "I highly doubt that. You have to be more than well aware of your appearance."
Hawke: "I am. It has led to quite a few people making questionable life choices."
Hawke: "Death is like an old friend who pays a visit, sometimes when it's least expected and other times when you're waiting for her. It's neither the first nor the last time she'll pay a visit, but that doesn't make any death less harsh or unforgiving."
Hawke: "What do you want from me? Tell me, and I'll make it so."
Poppy: "Why? Why would you ... do this? You don't know me, and you thought I was someone else."
A flicker of amusement crossed his striking features
Hawke: "I have nowhere to be at the moment, and I'm intrigued."
My brows lifted
Poppy: "Because you have nowhere to be at the moment?"
Hawke: "Would you rather I wax poetic about how I'm charmed by your beauty, even though I can only see half your face? Which, by the way, from what I can see is pleasing. Would you rather I tell you I'm captivated by your eyes? They are a pretty shade of green from what I can tell."
I started to frown
Poppy: "Well, no. I don't want you to lie."
Hawke: "None of those things were a lie."
He tugged on the bow as he dipped his head, brushing his lips over mine.
Hawke: "I told you the truth, Princess. I'm intrigued by you, and it's fairly rare anyone intrigues me."
Hawke: "So. You've changed my evening. I'd planned to return to my quarters. Maybe get a good, albeit boring, night of sleep, but I have a suspicion that tonight will be anything but boring if I spend it with you."
Hawke: "Tell me what you enjoy, so I can make you love it."
Poppy: "I ... I don't know."
Hawke's gaze flew to mine, and such a long moment passed that I began to wonder if I'd said the wrong thing.
Hawke: "I'll tell you what I want."
His thumb moved in slow, tight circles across a most sensitive part.
Hawke: "I want to remove your mask."
Poppy: "I ..."
A sharp, pulsing thrill rippled through my body, quickly followed by my heady wonder. What I felt ... I'd never felt anything like it before. Sharp and sweet, a different type of anguish.
Hawke: "Because I want to see you."
Poppy: "You can see me now."
Hawke: "No, Princess."
he said, lowering his head until his lips brushed the neckline of my gown.
Hawke: "I want to really see you when I do this without your gown between you and my mouth."
Before I could ask what he meant, I felt the wet, warm glide of his tongue through the thin, silken gown. I gasped, shocked by the act and by the rush of liquid heat it brought forth, but his gaze lifted to mine as his mouth closed over the tip of my breast. He sucked deep and long, and the gasp turned to a cry that would surely embarrass me later.
A fist pounded on the door, silencing whatever he was about to ask.
Kieran: "Hawke? You in there?"
He stiffened above me, his warm breath against my lips as he closed his eyes.
Kieran: "It's Kieran."
Hawke: "As if I didn't know that already."
Hawke muttered under his breath, and a small giggle left me. His eyes opened, and that half-grin appeared.
Kieran pounded some more
Poppy: "I think you should answer him."
Looking over his shoulder, he called out
Hawke: "I'm thoroughly, happily busy at the moment."
Kieran: "Sorry to hear that."
Hawke refocused on me.
Kieran knocked again.
Kieran: "But the interruption is unavoidable."
Hawke: "The only unavoidable thing I see if your soon-to-be broken hand if you pound on that door one more time."
My eyes widened
Hawke: "What, Princess? I told you I was really intrigued."
Hawke: "Tell me that you'll wait for me, Princess."
My heart skipped over itself
Poppy: "I will."
Vikter: "You're as brave as any guard on the Rise."
Poppy: "Well, thank you."
Vikter: "And just as foolish as any new recruit."
My smile turned upside down.
Poppy: "I take my thank you back."
Attacker: "I'm going to enjoy tearing your skin off your weak, fragile bones. I don't care what he has planned for you. I will bathe in your blood and feast on your entrails."
Poppy: "That sounds delightful."
Tawny: "I can't imagine what's going on in your head. Actually, probably something that involves bloody vengeance."
Poppy: "That's not entirely untrue."
Tawny: "This is my shocked face."
Hawke: "You do him a great honor by being here. You do us all a great honor by being here."
I opened my mouth to tell him that Rylan and all of them were owed far more than the honor of my presence, but I stopped myself. I couldn't risk it.
Hawke's gaze flicked over my lower jaw, lingering on the corner of my mouth, where I knew the skin was inflamed.
Hawke: "You were hurt. You can be assured that will never happen again."
I kicked out, and my bare foot connected with the side of Vikter's skin. Caught off guard, he staggered to the side as I shot up beside him. He started to strike back but froze. His gaze dropped to where I held the dagger to his throat.
The corners of his lips turned down.
Poppy: "I win."
Vikter: "It's not about winning, Poppy."
Poppy: "It's not?"
I lowered the dagger, stepping back.
Vikter: "It's about surviving."
Poppy: "Isn't that winning, though?"
He shot me a sidelong glance as he dragged his arm over his forehead.
Vikter: "I suppose you can look at it that way, but it's never a game."
Poppy: "I know that. But if it were a game, I still would've won."
Vikter: "You only got the upper hand twice, Poppy."
Poppy: "Yes, but both of those times, I would've sliced your neck. You got the upper hand three times, but they would've been nothing more than flesh wounds."
Vikter: "Flesh wounds?"
He barked out a short, rare laugh.
Vikter: "Only you would think disembowelment a paltry flesh wound. You're such a poor loser."
Poppy: "I thought this wasn't a game?"
Duke: "She's truly unique, isn't she?"
Duke: "Half of her face is a masterpiece. The other a nightmare."
A tremor coursed down my arms, but I kept my chin high and resisted the urge to pick up something, anything, and throw it at the Duke's face.
Hawke's gaze remained fastened on mine as he stepped forward.
Hawke: "Both halves are as beautiful as the whole."
My lips parted on a sharp inhale.
Hawke placed a hand on the hilt of his broadsword and bowed slightly, his gaze never once leaving mine.
Hawke: "With my sword and with my life, I vow to keep you safe, Penellaphe. From this moment until the last moment, I am yours."
Poppy: "Your hormones must be clouding your rational thought."
Tawny: "My hormones are always clouding my rational though, thank you very much."
Tawny: "He said you were beautiful."
Poppy: "I'm sure he was just being kind."
She stared at me as if I'd admitted to snacking on dog hair.
Tawny: "First off, you are beautiful. You know that -"
Poppy: "I'm not saying that to fish for compliments."
Tawny: "I know, but I felt the overwhelming need to remind you of such. He didn't have to say anything in response to the Duke being a general ass."
My lips twitched
Tawny: "He could've ignored it and proceeded on to the Royal Guard oath, which, by the way, he made sound like ... sex."
Poppy: "Yes. Yes, he did."
Tawny: "I almost needed t