Author: Reintgen, Scott
Follows alchemists Imelda, Adrian, and Pippa as they reach for their dreams of glory riding phoenix horses at The Races, the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/01/2019 Each year, the entire Ashlord Empire turns its attention to the Races, a multiday event in which a dozen teenage alchemists riding phoenix horses compete in a brutal display of strength, strategy, and magic—sometimes with the help of gods. Horses burst into flames at sunset, leaving contestants to protect the ashes (and themselves) from sabotage until daybreak, when they summon their steeds back to race another day. Three of this year’s riders race for more than the prize money: the daughter of two legendary Ashlord champions; a scholarship entrant from an oppressed people; and a revolutionary’s son from a seceded nation. The main characters are well cast and equally compelling in their pursuits of glory, justice, and freedom. The world building is at times unclear—burner phones and viral videos appear alongside carriages and candles—and the use of second-person narration for one of the three characters could throw (or thrill) some readers. Despite the story's similarities to The Hunger Games and The Scorpio Races, Reintgen (Nyxia, 2018) mostly manages to avoid being derivative in this duology opener that promises a war-filled sequel. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2019 Gr 7 Up—Imelda, Adrian, and Pippa are all racers, but unlike regular jockeys they ride Phoenix Horses, mystical steeds that die each night and are reborn at dawn. Imelda enters the race as the poor scholarship student from a downtrodden minority, but will she play to win or to break the games? Adrian is the son of a rebel leader, aiming to win and become the face of a revolution. Pippa is the daughter of two past champions; she has trained all her life to win, but will romance be her downfall? The world in this novel is unlike other fantasy realms and depicts a complex history of battles, political stratification, and gods. Imelda, Adrian, and Pippa all have complete character arcs, a difficult feat with three narrators. The only thing that mars this fantasy is the bizarre choice to have Pippa's narrative written in the second person, which is very distracting at first. Many of the book's tropes suggest a future dystopia with the in-depth cultural history of war and strife, and a competition where the dominant group has an unfair advantage in both the game and the social system as a whole. VERDICT An exciting action tale set in a unique world. Hand this book to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.—Jeri Murphy, C.F. Simmons Middle School, Aurora, IL - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.