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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
To say that Pride of Ashna is an exciting read would be an understatement. In fact, it is an exhilarating, dizzying ride exploding with action. The second book in Emmanuel M. Arriaga’s Foundra series, it transports readers into a well-imagined and cleverly constructed world with a compelling female protagonist. While her team is out to deal a final blow to bands of pirates that continually assault those who are unfortunate to be born in the Outer Rim, Serah'Elax craves revenge against those who murdered her family and she will go to any lengths, together with the Ashna Maidens, to achieve that goal. They are faced with not only the brutal and daring strength of the pirates but with a more powerful threat from another dimension that can annihilate the Outer Rim completely and destroy the Twin Galaxies. They will need the help of Foundra’s Elites to face this looming threat, but what chances do they have of victory?
Emmanuel M. Arriaga weaves a story that takes into account personal journeys and explores the dynamics of a world rocked by tensions. The setting in the Outer Rim is well-written and the reader immediately understands that it is the world of the destitute, people who are not fortunate enough to be born where their human values can be respected, where work is easy to find, and where dignity is a word people are familiar with, so they are subjected to dangerous attacks from bandits, crime, and living in poverty. The setting is detailed and the relentless pacing, coupled with bombshell plot twists and a sophisticated female protagonist leading the way, transforms this novel into a page-turning read. The elements of science fiction are brilliantly written, the work of an effusive imagination that creates technology in sync with the thoughts of the protagonist. Serah'Elax operates her weapons with her mind, gliding through the sky as though the sky were her plaything. The descriptions of the ships are brilliant and the author renders them so neatly that the reader can easily imagine them.
The writing is highly descriptive, and I was pulled in by the very first sentences. I loved the focused scenes, especially when the author describes the scene featuring the dead body of Nesal’Velexi and the murder of Ovah’Hal. Pride of Ashna is the perfect example of a masterclass in storytelling, with twists and turns and relentless action set against a fascinating world and dramatic situations that keep the story moving forward. The author creates a culture and a language that is peculiar to that culture, and as the reader hears some of the words and expressions from the characters, they become acquainted with the world the author has intelligently imagined and crafted. Authors like Emmanuel M. Arriaga write novels that not only entertain readers but give them companions to distract them from the doldrums of the day. It was a perfect escape for me, and while it is lengthy, the speed never slows down.