We’re just a few weeks out from the release of Legacy of Steel and I know some of you are thinking ‘I loved Legacy of Ash, but there was a lot going on. How do I get caught up in time? What is the story so far?
First of all, you’ve still (probably) got time to read Legacy of Ash again if you’d like to. Dive back into the world of Aradane and live the highs and lows of the first book. Join Viktor, Josiri, Calenne and the others in their struggles. (The audiobook is particularly good for this, I understand – especially if you’re commuting or otherwise have a lot of listening time to spare).
On the other hand, Legacy of Ash is a big old book, and it’s a bit of an ask to re-read the whole thing, so I’m delighted to present an overview of the story so far.
Legacy of Ash is a vast story, full of interwoven characters and events. It is, therefore, something of a challenge to give a manageable story recap!
To make it all a bit more digestible, I’ve broken down the main narrative and several smaller arcs – each of them named for the characters most involved. You’ll find them all below. If you just want a ‘quick’ refresher on the book, stick to Legacies (Viktor, Josiri & Calenne). For the full recap, check out the others.
Heavy spoilers ahead, obviously. Proceed at your own peril.
LEGACY OF ASH – THE STORY SO FAR
Fifteen years after Katya Trelan led the rebellious Southshires in a doomed secession from the Tressian Republic, her son, Josiri Trelan, prepared to finish what she began and free his people from the Council’s oppressive rule. His sister, Calenne Trelan, wanting nothing more to do with the Trelan name, sought escape from the family legacy through arranged marriage to the bold knight Kasamor Kiradin. Upon learning the neighbouring Hadari Empire sought to invade the Southshires, Viktor Akadra – the Council Champion, architect of Katya Trelan’s downfall, and bearer of a forbidden magical shadow – resolved to atone for past deeds by rallying the Southshires’ defenders against the Hadari.
Things started to go wrong almost at once. Unbeknownst to Josiri, the wolf’s-head outlaws he’d laboured to bring together colluded with the Hadari. Viktor met political opposition on the Council, led by the scheming matriarch Ebigail Kiradin. Kasamor was killed on route to his wedding, and Calenne struck out into the world alone – a journey for which she was wholly unprepared.
Viktor gained leverage on the Council by threatening to reveal the existence of his shadow, convincing his father to support the Southshires’ defence. He arrived in the Southshires just in time to save Calenne from ne’er-do-wells, and through her gained introduction to Josiri.
Unable to bear the thought of working with the man who destroyed his mother, Josiri refused to cooperate with Viktor, but soon discovered ‘his’ wolf’s-heads’ treachery. Despite Viktor’s efforts at reconciliation, Josiri fell into drunken despair, refusing to have anything to do with repelling the Hadari. However, Calenne – whose own fear of Viktor was steadily turning to admiration and affection – offered to act as the rallying figurehead Josiri would not, in exchange for Viktor marrying her and freeing her of the Trelan name.
One by one, Josiri’s remaining allies joined Viktor’s outnumbered army and met the Hadari in unequal battle at Davenwood. Despite early successes, the tide turned against the Tressians. Fearing for Calenne’s safety, Josiri shook off his despondency and seized control of the wolf’s-heads, bringing them into the fray against the Hadari. At the same time, a desperate Viktor drew upon the full power of his shadow – and quiescent magic buried in the Southshires – to blind swathes of the Hadari. The Tressians triumphed, but at huge cost. Many lay dead, and Calenne was missing in the aftermath, having last been seen leading a charge to save her routed countryfolk.
Both of them distraught at Calenne’s disappearance, Viktor and Josiri resolved to begin anew. Their pact was almost immediately shaken when soldiers acting under Ebigail Kiradin’s orders restored martial law to the Southshires. In retaliation, Josiri freed the Hadari prisoners, including the crown prince Kai Saran and his daughter Melanna Saranal. He was sheltered from the consequences only because Viktor adopted him into the Akadra family. Both were forced to return north to Tressia, leaving Calenne’s fate a mystery.
Worse, upon arriving in Tressia, it became apparent that Ebigail’s political machinations afflicted more than the Southshires. Having reduced the Council almost to nothing through assassination, she framed Viktor for practising witchcraft and set about seizing control of the city – and the Republic – by force.
Despite wanting nothing more than to return to the Southshires and find Calenne, Josiri found himself drawn into the fight. Eventually, Viktor’s allies overthrew and killed Ebigail, only to receive warning that the Southshires were sliding into disaster.
Malatriant, once the Tyrant Queen of the old Tressian kingdom and dead for centuries, had been manipulating the folk of the Southshires across the course of years, urging them to revolt and thus empower her return. The south’s new wave of oppression had given her precisely that. An entire town was now under her control, and her abhorrent rule was spreading. Those who fell to Malatriant’s influence became part of her, an army of puppets unable to break free of her control.
When news of this reached Tressia, Josiri determined to free his people. Viktor and his allies on the Council immediately threw their support behind him, despatching an army to confront and destroy Malatriant … if such a thing could be done.
Desperate to find Calenne, Viktor left Tressia ahead of the gathering army, and arrived in a Southshires drowning in primordial darkness. Assailed by Malatriant’s thralls, he was rescued by Calenne and resolved to confront the Tyrant Queen face to face.
Alas, that confrontation went poorly. Viktor’s shadow was revealed as an aspect of Malatriant’s all-consuming Dark, and he was swiftly overpowered. She revealed that it was he who’d set her free by drawing on the magic of her prison during his triumph at Davenwood. But far from wanting him dead and the world under her thrall, Malatriant claimed she wanted nothing more than to bequeath what remained of her power to Viktor – to have him become her heir.
Seeing no other way to stop Malatriant, Viktor agreed to become her heir. At the last moment, when all seemed lost, the Tressian army arrived and Josiri’s selfless sacrifice brought Viktor back to his senses. Casting off Malatriant’s influence, Viktor ordered everything that had fallen under her sway – towns, villages and people – burned to ash, ending her threat for good.
In the aftermath, Viktor confessed to Josiri that Calenne too was under Malatriant’s control and had died in the fires. Heartbroken, Josiri parted ways with Viktor, their nascent friendship shattered by betrayal. Unable to bear what had been made of his ancestral home, Josiri headed north to Tressia, to take his mother’s restored seat on the Council. Viktor, determined to keep watch in case any fragment of Malatriant returned, set off into the wilds, deep in conversation with a Calenne that only he could see …
Roslava Orova, a knight of Chapterhouse Essamere, resolved to confess her unrequited love for Kasamor Kiradin, only for him to be murdered by an agent of Tressia’s shadowy thieves’ guild, the Crowmarket. Saved from that same grisly fate through divine intervention and transformed into a deathless eternal, Rosa saved councillor Malachi Reveque from assassination, and learned that the two attacks were somehow connected.
Through careful manipulation and the unwilling aid of her daughter Sevaka, Ebigail Kiradin convinced Rosa that Viktor Akadra was to blame for both attacks. Lost in guilt and loss, and having grown friendly with Sevaka, Rosa fell wholly under Ebigail’s sway. Resisting Malachi’s attempts to convince her of Viktor’s innocence, she oversaw his capture on his return from the Southshires.
In truth, those deaths – and many others – had been commissioned by Ebigail Kiradin herself as part of her attempt to seize control of the Republic. To secure her position, Ebigail then had the Crowmarket kidnap the loved ones of influential Tressians, ensuring that nothing would oppose her coup.
Only when Sevaka learned the truth about Kasamor’s death – and was nearly assassinated in turn – did Rosa finally realise how she’d been used. Alas, Ebigail had foreseen this eventuality. She had Rosa captured and condemned to burn on a pyre beside Sevaka.
As Viktor Akadra rallied forces against the coup, Malachi realised that there was no hope of victory unless the Crowmarket abandoned Ebigail. Offering a sympathetic ear on the Council, he convinced the shadowy guild to release their prisoners, freeing others from Ebigail’s control and altering the course of the final battle. Meanwhile, Rosa freed herself from the pyre and saved Sevaka’s life.
In the aftermath, Malachi was elevated to the rank of First Councillor despite his wishes. Knowing that he was compromised by the Crowmarket, he didn’t want to give them more influence of the Republic’s governance. A penitent Rosa throws her support behind Viktor’s return to the Southshires, and Malatriant’s defeat.
When Kai Saran launched his invasion of the Southshires, he did so to prove his worthiness to be the Hadari Emperor – the Hadari have always valued the strength of the sword. An inheritor’s bloodline alone was not enough to make the case, but a victory against the Tressian Republic would do so.
Kai’s chief representative in the days leading to invasion was his daughter, Melanna Saranal. She dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps and becoming the first Empress, but Hadari tradition forbade women the right to bear swords, and thus the right to rule.
Denied support by her adoptive mother, the Goddess Ashana, Melanna found encouragement with Ashana’s Huntsman, who gifted her a sword that blazed with alabaster flame. Initially dismissed by the men in the Hadari army – including her father – Melanna proved herself by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at Charren Gorge, and thereafter fought at Davenwood as a full heir, fit to inherit her father’s throne.
Alas, the Hadari army was defeated at Davenwood. Both Melanna and her father were captured, only to be set free by Josiri Trelan. With Kai’s chief rival slain elsewhere, he was now free to return to the Empire and claim his throne. However Melanna, urged on by Ashana, lingered in the Southshires with Malatriant’s Dark overtook it. Joining forces with Josiri Trelan and Roslava Orova, she rescued Viktor Akadra and became instrumental in Malatriant’s defeat.
Legacy of Steel is available on November 3rd (USA) and November 5th (UK). Legacy of Ash is available now from all good bookstores. Skip the queues by ordering your copies using the links below.
LEGACY OF ASH (available now)
A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.
Ruling families plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives, heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.
The Republic faces its darkest hour. Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.
‘A hugely entertaining debut’ John Gwynne
LEGACY OF STEEL (pre-order)
A year has passed since an unlikely alliance saved the Tressian Republic from fire and darkness – at great cost. Thousands perished, and Viktor Akadra – the Republic’s champion – has disappeared.
While the ruling council struggles to mend old wounds, other factions sense opportunity. The insidious Parliament of Crows schemes in the shadows, while to the east the Hadari Emperor gathers his armies. As turmoil spreads across the Republic, its ripples are felt in the realms of the divine.
War is coming… and this time the gods themselves will take sides