Ash and Bone
A serialisation set in the world of Doth Domhan.
Noble heir, sole survivor. Captain of the guard, ruthless warrior. Joined together by tragedy and duty, the last remaining survivors of a highborn family escape the burning ruins of their home and claim back what is theirs.
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This story takes what we love about traditional fantasy, and brings life to the genre through phenomenal characterization. The author fascinates the reader with hints of what is to come--may it be through the magic system introduced early on, or in ways that unravel the world and reveal amazing things. I'll break it down.
The style is well done. I found it easy to read, and the chapters are nicely sized so I do not feel overwhelmed with the lore or happenings in each chapter. The author breaks it down into segments for each episode, which makes it bite-sized (by that, I mean 2k-3k average) and optimal for the chapter-by-demand style that Royal Road favors. That said, the episodes being split up do not diminish the quality and I found myself favoring this over having too many words presented in one sitting.
I found nothing wrong with the grammar--that, mixed with the impressive writing style, is what makes this story such an easy and fascinating read.
It is a story that manages to build suspense quickly without sacrificing quality. Cathal puts the characters in dire situations that establish the risk they take with their decisions, as well as what makes this world a dangerous place.
In chapter one, Cathal provides insight that they are willing to kill a child off, which builds such a drastic level of suspense. That said, the pacing of the paragraphs surrounding it, as well as the next few chapters, help even out the shock of such a violent and cruel world.
The author builds a lot of the character's motives and desires through the use of dialogue, which I found fitting for the environment and the number of people our main characters are introduced to and surrounded by.
I may be biased, but I love a MC with a chip on his shoulder. Drest is a character that desires revenge, and while his cocky attitude may be unfavorable for some readers, I think it adds spice to the story.
In such a cruel world, where the innocent are being blamed and the young are getting tossed to the side and killed, it makes sense that Drest is cold and confident in his capabilities.
Katarin is fiesty, as well. Where Drest is more of a calm and collected revenge seeker, Katarin brings fire to the table. She is willing to burn an empire to the ground without batting an eye, and I loved it. Chaos is hard to control, and as an author I see Cathal taking these two characters and allowing their flames to be free.
That said, I've never seen chaos so controlled. Overall, this story blew me away and I think that the level of action, suspense, and stakes all harmonize to create a story that will be difficult to be set down. I cannot wait until the "next chapter" button starts working again :)
I CANNOT WRITE a whole lot on this story because it's something I genuinely struggled to comprehend. But at the same time, I can admire the effort and time put into it, as evidenced by the descriptions and flow. Trust me when I say I tried to come up with stuff to discuss storywise, but the single most significant issue I have with this fiction is its lack of immersion – for me, at least.
This is based on personal opinion and shouldn't dissuade anyone from giving this a look, because other people seem to enjoy it.
STYLE - 4/5
I'll begin with my least favourite of the categories. Stylistically, Ash and Bone is written to give the reader clear descriptions of actions, scenery, ideas, and backstory. This is an excellent style to have: it's slow but thought-provoking, leaves people engaged, and creates a pleasant atmosphere with which to progress the story. However, this very same style becomes a significant detriment to the story's pace; it runs out of steam quickly and resorts to reusing unique phrases that we already saw from the author. I cannot wholly blame the author for this because I sometimes do that when I want to get things down. The style can easily be fixed by not depending on raw description to entrance the readers all the time. At first, it's nice and atmospheric, but it eventually becomes tiring to get through and reminds me that I'm just reading someone else's writing instead of immersing myself in a story.
At times I'm just completely lost as to what's going on. I keep zoning out after a few paragraphs, and I'm not one to usually do that, so I can only imagine what this story will do to other readers. Whether that is because the prose is not investing enough or too slow is up for debate. Some readers will probably be able to get through it with relative ease, but not me.
That said, the sentences' flow is immensely satisfying, which leads me to my next category.
GRAMMAR - 5/5
The grammar is generally good! There's a nice consistency (sometimes; I'll get to that) that showcases the author's ability to write freely. That's not to say there are no mistakes: there are moments where the author goes back and forth between punctuating dialogue correctly and incorrectly. Dialogue tags are often preceded by periods instead of commas, and commas often precede actions instead of periods. This inconsistency can be bothersome to more attentive and pedantic readers and can lead to them not even giving the story a try. This is also true with literary agents: they don't read anything with a typo on the first page. I noticed only one spelling mistake, and that was the use of 'quiver' instead of 'quaver'. So spelling is on par! The capitalisation of some words was sometimes inconsistent or incorrect. I didn't pay much notice to them, but they were obvious and understandable. Another error the author makes is the incorrect punctuation of its and it's. They typically use "it's" as the possessive, instead of "its". This is just something small.
A pet peeve regarding the author's grammar: not using an en dash and/or em dash. The author tends to use the hyphen as a dash. And that really bothers me, LOL.
In general, I recommend mastering the dialogue rules. The prose is in a good place now in terms of quality; I still think it could be cut down massively. And because of the overall accuracy of grammar, I decided on 5/5. I enjoy how the author sometimes removes commas in areas that typically take them. It increases the tempo and mood in a most artistic way. There were no comma splices, which was fine, but they can help quicken the prose's pace if need be.
STORY - 4.5/5
I am sorry, but I cannot with great confidence summarise this serialisation thus far. I understand the action scenes, the discussion between some characters, but I was lost due to the writing style. It's definitely the most significant flaw for me, if not a complete hamartia. It would make me put the book down, but I can see others enjoying this with the same energy I put into other stories. So that shouldn't dissuade the readers. My problem was the pacing and the slow action scenes. The prose tends to keep to its roots all around, even during high-octane scenes, which leaves them less impactful than they should be. I'd recommend varied sentence length in these areas with a propensity for short lines. This makes things more exciting, easier to follow and gives it that sense of urgency. When something is long-winded, and the scene opposes that, it seems forced and stilted.
CHARACTERS - 4.5/5
They all seem pretty similar in terms of language, which makes sense. People in a township tend to communicate with identical tongues. Some people could be less on the dramatic side of things; not everyone should steer towards fancy language, but then again, the author may have a purpose for it. Simultaneously, it can make it seem as though everyone is reading from a script, sounding stilted and such. There are pros and cons of this, but it's up to the author at the end of the day. I like the transition between the characters. It makes things clean and easier to follow. This is only the beginning of the story, so I can't speak much about the characterisation. Seventy pages aren't enough to characterise people fully, especially at slow paces.
OVERALL - 4.5/5
Although this serialisation left me confused, it's still put together with much eclat. The world Ashenhand creates is both diverse and political in nature, if not profoundly satisfying to venture into. I feel the prose could be devised with more attention to pacing as opposed to the description. A nice balance between the show and tell of things would help circumvent this issue and appeal to more readers in the process. I highly recommend this to fans of Fantasy and Grimdark!
Warning: Review will contain spoilers.
For the most part, the style is very good. Third person, but focusing each chapter on the perspective of one of the characters, giving voice to their inner thoughts. Action is described in detail; environments and character's physical descriptions are not ignored, but are given a bit less of a focus. I think the story could benefit a bit from these descriptions being expanded upon, at least the first time they are introduced, and then giving occasional reminders of physical descriptions so that the picture the author is trying to paint remains fresh in reader's minds. But for the most part, the style is pretty high quality, much higher than most works on royal roads.
Mostly flawless. I noticed a few occasions here and there where there were missing commas, but only a few times over the course of the entire story so far.
A high fantasy story focusing on the political intrigue and mystery of a brutal attack on the home town of our two main characters. The story is well paced, not rushing through things, but that does mean it hasn't gotten so far along yet, so it's hard to judge, beyond noting that it does offer an intriguing hook in the setup - discovering the exact reasons behind why the attack happened, exactly how higher political authorities are involved and why, and just what the motivations of the attackers were. There's also a good deal of tension in the plot from the fact that some of the characters are hiding terrible secrets from the other. Really, though, the story is just begnining, but definitely an interesting start.
Our two main characters are Drest, a cowardly, self-serving noble, and Katarin, the more experienced, and more passionate (in the sense of holding strong emotions) guard captain. You get an interesting contrast in their characters in how they react to the deaths of their families. While Drest is definitely less strong than Katarin, it is perhaps his more despicable nature that allows him to move on more quickly from his family's death and quickly begin plotting, while Katarin herself becomes overwhelmed with grief for a while.
There is an inherent tension between the two, with Drest holding a terrible secret from Katarin, while Katarin herself, while she's not particularly fond of Drest, still feels duty-bound to him in a sense. Their characterization is well-done, but of the two, only Katarin is really sympathetic at this moment. I'm interested to see whether Drest will begin displaying more admirable qualities as the story goes along, or if he really will just remain a despicable noble.
Side characters and minor characters are also fairly well done. While they're not given all that much focus, they are given enough individual personality so that they feel like real people.
A very solid beginning to a high fantasy plot full of intrigue and mystery. I think it could use some editing to tighten up some parts of the plot - I feel like some more time could have been taken between them escaping the attack, and returning to the scene of the attack to investigate, and the sometimes sparse environmental description sometimes makes it a bit difficult to picture what's going on. But overall it's a very well-written fantasy, more classic than what you typically encounter on royal roads, in a world that reveals its lore naturally. I think I would prefer if there were more sympathetic characters involved in the plot than just the one so far, but that's just my personal preference.
This is an interesting story. I like the premise - an unlikely hero and his small band of companions thrust into a terrible situation. The limited amount of magic in the setting is interesting, and I'm curious to find out more about the motivations of the antagonists.
I like the style of the writing, lots of imagery and good sensory descriptions. At times the writing seems to switch between prose and poety, with some repetative words and phrases that could be cut for brevity in a story like this. However, this may be for artistic effect and it doesn't detract from the overall experience. The word choice is advanced, with plenty of colorful vocabulary mixed in.
In the first chapter, the writing style is very passive overall - the environment is acting upon Drest, rather than the other way around. This may be intentional, to better showcase how Drest grows and changes throughout the arc of the story. By episode three, this passive interaction has diminished as the small band of characters are taking more responsibility for their actions and reactions. Using the writing style to show character growth and pacing is risky, but can be a very compelling device.
I'm interested to see where this story goes. In the first several chapters here, there's good introduction and setup. Some of the pacing could be improved - shorter chapters would be nice for this format, and rather than starting chapter two with a flashback to the same night, the writer could either switch perspective sooner, or just follow Katarin in a closer third-person perspective and avoid breaking the night into two seperate sections in her part. Show us what's happening rather than telling!
The spelling is excellent, and the story is technically well written. There are some misuses of punctuation, including an improper semicolon or two, but this isn't a huge deal. The grammar of some sentences is a little clunky, with too many clauses. Not many run-on sentences. Overall quite well written!
Drest is an interesting character. He seems a bit vain and his interest in seeking petty revenge is interesting. He's certainly set up to be an unlikely hero despite being the youngest son of the ruling noble family. His cowardice and lying to save himself if also interesting. Clearly this will come to a head later in the story - it will be interesting to see how and when it does!
Katarin is also interesting, but so far a more problematic character. Her hard blow to Drest's head at the beginning is an interesting choice. Paints her as hotheaded, not thinking about the natural consequences as long she wins the fight. Her role as captain of the guard indicates the setting values women alongside men as equals, which is nice. However, she's not portrayed as an actual strong female character. She does have a family and children, and clearly loves them but is still driven to do her duty as the head of the guard. That's good. What isn't so great is her holding up sexist norms to her young son, telling him to protect his sisters, despite the next paragraph explaining that the sisters are older and don't need his protection. Her daughters are even offended by her sexist remarks, and rightly so. She's unconsciously undermining her own authority and their autonomy as capable young women by doing this.
Speaking of undermined authority, I am left with a lot of questions after a short conversation with her husband about the state of the guards in the city. If she is the captain of the guard, why are they all drunkards and poorly trained? Why hasn't she done something about this? What factors are stopping her from maintaining capable warriors in her ranks? I would like to see more about this!
I do like the fact the story explores the dichotomy women face between their duties and their families, and it seems this tension will be an ongoing factor. Looking forward to seeing where the writer takes this.
The other characters aren't very well fleshed out yet, but this makes sense considering the perspective characters and their limited interactions with the other supporting characters so far. I'm sure this will change as the story advances.
Like the title said, revenge stories are actually my least favorite kind of read and pardon me because I just read the first chapter but the blurb, the first chapter are all typical(Unless, I read the rest of the chapters) But what I'm amazed at is the fluid writing this book has. Because of the fluidity of the book, It sucks you in so If I read more chapters, I'll probably change my statement... The possibility is endless as long as you don't drop this, keep up the good work
It was a thrill reading this story! Will certainly get your heart pumping. If you enjoy fast-paced action packed fantasy, Ash and Bone ticks all the checkboxes.
Style: It's eloquent, evocative, and captures the grimdark medieval fantasy vibe. The language takes a few paragraphs to get used to, but once you do, it draws you in. The author leaves no stones unturned when it comes to setting the scene. Everything is described in exquisite detail, but at the same time, the prose doesn't slow down the story, but instead carries it forward. There is plenty of action in the first two chapters, and the move by move playthrough of the swordfights showcases the author's diverse skills.
Grammar: With the exception of a few very minor issues, it is practically flawless. No complaints here.
Character: The story begins with two main characters: Drest and Katarin, both suffering great losses. Because of the POV switches between them and the immediate thrust into action (their city being attacked), we only get a glimpse of their regular lives before they are forever changed by crisis. Those brief moments were enough to make us care for them. Katarin, having lost her husband and children, not only has revenge on her mind, but also keeps her oath to protect Drest, which is intriguing despite her lost. Drest for now is shown to be arrogant. He certainly as a lot to learn. The dynamic between these two - mentor and student - will be interesting to see.
Chapter 3 introduces a third POV character - Carad, who seems to be of the opposing force to Drest/Karatin. He is in cahoots with the people responsible for the massacre that happens in chapter 1. I didn't expect to see his POV, and this adds a whole new layer of mystery to the story.
Story: It's too early to give a detailed assessment of the plot. There is nothing new here as of yet. It's mainly a revenge plot. But with the addition of monsters, magic, and the POV of a potential villain, there is great promise for something grand.
At the time of writing, the book is still in its early stages so I can't give a more complete review, but so far, I'm impressed!
The story jumps right into the action, with an exciting first chapter that I think does an excellent job of grabbing the reader from the start, and remains engaging throughout. The characters are well put together -their flaws are believably obvious, and the inherent human-ness of the characters is one of my favourite things about the work. There are several moments when they are forced into making decisions that could be considered 'unheroic'. I would argue that they are merely acting how real people might when forced into extraordinary circumstances, and each time they make a difficult choice, they become infinitely more relatable in the process.
To this end the author does an excellent job of conveying emotion and visceral fear. The prose in general is of good quality, at times quite witty (including some quite evocative metaphors), and the action scenes especially come into their own. There is though, a tendency to lean a little heavily on the narrator (explaining how things happened rather than showing it), which did sometimes pull me out of the story a little. However it is still far beyond most of the works on here.
My only real issue is that the plot moves very fast, and can sometimes feel a little disjointed. I'm sure the author could find a way to meld the various events together a little more smoothly. I also think a little more time spent with the characters (especially at the beginning in the castle) could be a good thing. That said, its fast pace and attention-grabbing opening are also great strengths, so this should be taken with a grain of salt!
I urge other readers to give Ash and Bone a go. There's hair-raising action and grotesque monsters galore -I'm positive you'll be similarly hooked!
Well, hello there!
So, let's get down to business. Should you read this story? Yes. It's that simple.
The Style is quick and fast paced, with a clear understanding of where the story is going and has no issue in pushing forwards to that destination in a way that feels far more reminiscent of a publishable novel than the more meandering story that a serialisation platform promotes.
The Grammar is probably the weakest link from my own perspective. I like to read aloud, where I enunciate each word in as fitting a way as I can, effectively doing my best impression of an Audiobook. Something that I noticed was, while the word choices are almost always perfect, I feel as if the framing of them can be somewhat odd.
A regular spoken sentence has a lot of dips and rises, and if you're translating a written piece into a spoken one in your head, you use grammar—like commas—to inform how the author would intend for that sentence to be said, as well as thought. Personally, this was shaky enough that it made certain sentences difficult to read and comprehend when things got lore or technicality heavy, especially when paired with the very meaty paragraphs.
However, I feel like this makes more sense as this story is clearly more closely mimicking an actual, publishable format, than a serialised easy read.
The Story is ready to jump out and blast you in the face with its intensity. And, while I'm more partial to the slower paced build, and would have dearly loved spending a chapter or two in the castle before it was sieged, I can see that the pacing is fitting a schedule, and I trust it enough that I'm willing to give up on my preferences and watch what will happen on the story's own clock.
The Characters so far feel good, though I think they have suffered in the instant-ness that some stories are capable of for the fast-paced timeline that the story is following. If the story were to give the initial build of the story an extra chapter or two especially for Katarin and her family (who were really treated more like flavour text in a flashback), then I feel as if I'd be far more involved in the fast-paced direction of the story.
Despite all these criticisms, this story is easily beating out 90% of the stories on RR with its first chapter. I expect that this story will likely be held to the standard of a self-published book on Amazon, which almost makes it worth the read along, in my opinion.
I would read this in a shoe. I would read this while I'm blue.
I will read this after class. I will read this after I cut the grass.
I hope you follow this book. I sure did. Then you can read it it too.
Your writing is eloquent, and I love it dearly. I admit I am a bit biased, as I myself write my stories in the third person. However your way of describing scenery is well done! I can even imagine the light streaming into Drest’s chamber when you wrote it! A+ work!
I wanted to give this a full 5/5 but the blocks of text made it hard to read and I’m on PC. I feel like the formatting needs to be changed. Other than that, everything else is fine.
I suggest the author try splitting their chapters. Readers prefer them to be 1.2k- 2k words, at most. I split my chapters up into multiple parts. My chapters are originally 6K to even 50K, and I split them into many parts. Some chapters I myself cannot split, but I usually end those around 2.5K words.
I suggest for chapter 1 you end it at where you put the divider. That alone is 2,004 words, and the second half would be a 1,878 word chapter.
Another way I solve this is by simply chopping a chapter in half, and then adding more words to the one that doesn’t meet my 1.2k requirement.
Once I formatted my chapters and shortened them, I had obtained 8 followers! People could get past my first chapter, which originally was just a block of text! It also makes it look like you update more often and have more chapters. Its a pretty great thing! Try it out! :)
You did quite well, hitting the ground running in the first chapter with action! Even the beginning had sword practice, and it set the tone for what kind of story it would be! Your word choice and description for the fight scenes are impeccable as well. The introduction of magic was organic as well, and left me wanting more. Bravo :)
I like Drest’s character alot. He reacts realistically as a child should. Running to his parents room when he is scared. He balks like any royal would when he has to humble himself to his own servant that is teaching him how to use a sword.
So often I get tired of seeing nobles that are kind and understanding, not like the caricatures of the bourgeoisie. I highly doubt those that were told they were representing divinity on Earth would be anything close to humble.
Katarin herself is admirable. From the word choice you can tell what kind of character she is, and that shows true understanding of writing.
I presume this will be a coming-of-age novel amongst other things. One of the main characters namely is an arrogant and cowardly noble, while his counterpoint will presumably be the other main character, a quietly competent officer. I think the foundations are well-made, and it will be interesting to see what comes of it.
The start was strong, but I feel that the author could have been a little more concise here and there.