Ash Princess (Ash Princess Series #1)

Ash Princess (Ash Princess Series #1)

by Laura Sebastian

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"Made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir" (Bustle), Ash Princess is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

"Sure to be one of the summer's most talked about YAs. . . . A darkly enchanting page-turner you won't be able to put down."-Bustle

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524767082
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 04/24/2018
Series: Ash Princess Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 8,834
File size: 7 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Laura Sebastian grew up in South Florida and attended Savannah College of Art and Design. She now lives and writes in New York City. Ash Princess is her first novel. To learn more about Laura and her book, follow @sebastian_lk on Twitter.

Read an Excerpt

I turn to see Crescentia barreling toward me down the gilded palace hallway, pink silk skirts lifted as she runs and a broad grin spread across her lovely face.
Her two maids struggle to keep up with her, their emaciated frames drowning in homespun dresses.
Don’t look at their faces, don’t look, I tell myself. Nothing good ever comes of looking, of seeing their dull eyes and hungry mouths. Nothing good ever comes of seeing how much they look like me, with their tawny skin and dark hair. It only makes the voice in my head grow louder. And when the voice grows loud enough to push past my lips, the Kaiser grows angry.
I will not anger the Kaiser and he will keep me alive. This is the rule I’ve learned to follow.
I focus on my friend. Cress makes everything easier. She wears her happiness like the sun’s rays, radiating it to warm those around her. She knows I need it more than most, so she doesn’t hesitate to fall into step next to me and link our arms tightly. 
She is free with her affection in a way only a few blessed people can be; she has never loved someone and lost them. Her effortless, childlike beauty will stay with her until she is an old woman, all dainty features and wide crystalline eyes that have seen no horrors. Pale blond hair hangs in a long braid pulled over her shoulder, studded with dozens of Spiritgems that wink in the sunlight pouring through the stained-glass windows.
I can’t look at the gems either, but I feel them all the same: a gentle pull beneath my skin, drawing me toward them, offering me their power if I’ll only take it. But I won’t. I can’t. Spiritgems used to be sacred things, before Astrea was conquered by the Kalovaxians.
The gems came from the caves that ran beneath the four major temples— one for each of the four major gods and goddesses of fire, air, water, and earth. The caves were the center of their powers, so drenched in magic that the gems inside them took on magic of their own. Before the siege, the devout would spend years in the cave of the god or goddess they swore allegiance to. There, they would worship their deity, and if they were worthy, they would be blessed, imbued with their god’s or goddess’s power. They then used their gifts to serve Astrea and its people as Guardians.
Back then there weren’t many who weren’t chosen by the gods— a handful a year, maybe. Those few went mad and died shortly after. It was a risk only the truly devout took. Being a Guardian was a calling— an honor— yet everyone understood what was at stake. That was a lifetime ago. Before. 
After the siege, the Kaiser had the temples destroyed and sent tens of thousands of enslaved Astreans to the caves to mine the gems. Living so close to the power of the gods is no longer a choice people make, but one that is made for them. There is no calling or allegiance sworn, and because of that, most people who are sent to the mines quickly lose their minds and, shortly after, their lives.
And all that so the wealthy can pay a fortune to cover themselves in gems without even uttering the names of the gods. It’s sacrilege to us, but not to the Kalovaxians. They don’t believe. And without the blessing of the gods—without the time spent deep in the earth—they can possess only a shadow of a true Guardian’s power, no matter how many gems they wear, which is plenty for most of them. The Water Gems in Cress’s braid could give a trained Guardian the power to craft an illusion strong enough to create a new face entirely, but for Cress they only lend her skin a glow, her lips and cheeks a pretty flush, her golden hair a shine.
Beauty Gems, the Kalovaxians call them now.
“My father sent me a book of poems from Lyre,” she tells me. Her voice grows tense, as it always does when she speaks of her father, the Theyn, with me. “We should take it up to the pavilion and translate it. Enjoy the sun while we still have it.”
“But you don’t speak Lyrian,” I say, frowning. Cress has a knack for languages and literature, two things her father has never had the patience for. As the Kaiser’s best warrior and the head of his army, the Theyn understands battle and weaponry, strategy and bloodshed, not books and poetry, but he tries for her sake. Cress’s mother died when Cress was only a baby, so the Theyn is all she has left by way of family.
“I’ve picked up a few phrases here and there,” she says, waving a hand dismissively. “But my father had the poet translate some so I can puzzle out the rest. You know how my father enjoys his puzzles.” 
She glances sideways at me to see my reaction, but I’m careful not to give one.
I’m careful not to imagine Cress’s father pressing his dagger to a poor scrawny poet’s neck as he hunches over his work, or the way he held it to my mother’s so long ago. I don’t think of the fear in her eyes. Her hand in mine. Her voice, strong and clear even then. 
No, I don’t think of that. I’ll go mad if I do. 
“Well, we’ll solve them quickly, between the two of us,” I tell her with a smile, hoping she believes it. 
Not for the first time, I wonder what would happen if I didn’t suppress a shudder when she mentioned her father. If I didn’t smile and pretend he wasn’t the same man who killed my mother. I like to believe Cress and I have been friends long enough that she would understand, but that kind of trust is a luxury I don’t have. 

Customer Reviews

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Ash Princess (Ash Princess Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down and read it in a matter of 2.5 hours and then immediately went to try and find the next book. Gah, it can't come out soon enough. I read 3-4 books a week, and this captured my jaded and recently fickle interest in a way that hasn't happened in months. Well done! This is the first review I have ever posted for a book and I have over 5000+ in my collections.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like red queen series you will like this book
Laura_JB More than 1 year ago
I could not stop reading this book the moment I picked it up. Laura Sebastian snares you on page 1, and the action and stakes keep building and building until it’s 4 am and you are awed and shocked and full of all the feelings, so glad to have stayed up all night reading. Theo is everything you want in a heroine: determined, gritty, clever, ready to do whatever it takes to help not just herself and her friends but her people. It is incredible watching her journey as she first must believe in herself then rise to the occasion. And the surprises! Just when you think you know what might happen, the book throws in a new twist. The ending is a high-stakes, amazing stunner. And Blaise, Soren, Cress, Artemesia, Heron—these are characters you will fall in love with and want to read about again and again. I just wish I had the pleasure of reading Ash Princess for the first time all over again. I cannot wait for the second book in the series! Ash Princess is for fans of Red Queen and Ember in the Ashes, but in my opinion, it’s far better. Read it, and it will become your new favorite.
Mel-Loves-Books 3 months ago
“Theodosia, Ampeleo called me. It’s a strong name - the one my mother gave me. It’s the name of a queen. It doesn’t feel like a name I deserve, but here I stand alone. If I am to survive, I must be strong enough to live up to it. I must be Theodosia now.” The Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian, at first glance seemed like a copy of so many YA fantasies I have read lately. I am so glad I gave it a chance though. I was NEVER bored with this story. Theodosia is a surprisingly strong character and seeing this story play out had me on the edge of my seat through out the book. I am already dying for the second installment. I give the book 5 stars.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Anonymous 4 months ago
This book is so well written you feel like you're there. That last scene where Thora was punished actually made me cry it was so vivid. l read a LOT and I can count on one hand how often that has happened. This is a page turner for sure.
Anonymous 9 months ago
At first I wasn’t really liking this book but then I got how the book was meant to be. ThenI couldn’t put it down. I would be reading it late into the night and early morning. But the thing that I liked the most was probably how Theo was having a relationship with ( I cant use the actual names so I’ll use school stereotypes) The rich kid, and using him. But also having the best friend who has always had feelings for her but wont admit them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shelley Murray More than 1 year ago
Rating: 3.5 stars This somehow was both really good while also falling a little flat for me. I feel like it kept dragging on and then right at the end several things happened that really intrigued me and made me possibly interested in reading the next book, which I'm actually kind of mad about, haha. I didn't really enjoy the love triangle aspect between Soren-Thora/Theo-Blaise. The T (which I'm going to call her because she has too many names and at the same time none) and Blaise bits sometimes felt a little strange and forced, and I was shipping T and Soren at first, but then he just goes away for a good while... Actually I still ship T and Soren, and I like how conflicted she is about liking him and whether or not she can and should and actually does like him. It's got a little bit of a fake relationship turning into a real romance trope about it, except for Soren it was always real. Soren is actually pretty great. It's always a bit difficult reviewing the first book in a series (or trilogy, as the case may be), especially in the fantasy genre, because there is SO MUCH set up and world building that needs to go into the first book. I think the next book in the trilogy, Lady Smoke, will really be telling and make-or-break the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was dark and sad and gutting at times, but it also had hope woven through it. The story contained a lot of stark political and social commentary, about conquering and being conquered, and the plight of the natives who were slaughtered and enslaved. I was utterly hooked from the start. I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy a darker fantasy story that is riddled with political turmoil.
HugsandKissesforBooks More than 1 year ago
Dynamic fantasy! Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian. A six-year-old Theodosia watches her mother as her life is taken from her. Her mother tells Theodosia that she’s the only hope for their people. The story jumps ahead ten years. Theodosia is a prisoner in the palace with the man who killed her mother, the Kaiser’s second in command- the Theyn. The Kaiser and the Theyn keep her with their own children in the palace, except she receives frequent whippings to remind her of their cruelty and her kingdom’s weakness. The Kaiser also gave her new names, Thora and Ash Princess. The Kaiser summons her to kill a rebel. This man used to be her guardian and he’s also her father. He pleads with her as his queen. He tells her to remember her rightful place as a princess and now a queen. He also tells her to kill him and she fulfills his request knowing that the guards will drag out his death but she will make it quick. The Prinze escorts her to her room and she vomits because of the trauma she’s just been through. Her maid helps her get undressed and puts ointment on her whip marks. Hoa, the maid, can’t speak because her mouth has been sewn shut. The stitches are cut every few days to allow Hoa to eat, then her mouth is sewn back up! There are no words to describe how horrible and deplorable that is. Thora is bolstering herself up to do what both her mother and father asked of her, to be their queen and she knows it’s up to her now because there’s no one left to rescue her. She discovers that a childhood friend is in the palace, Blaise, and he gives her hope once again. Blaise and two other rebels take the place of Thora’s private guards and together they plot the death of the Kaiser, the Prinz, the Theyn and his daughter. Pressure and learning more about the violent crimes towards her people make Thora determined to be the queen she was meant to be. 5 stars for this dynamic fantasy full of strong, interesting characters! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
JillJemmett More than 1 year ago
This book was so good! Theodosia is in a unique position in this story. She is living with the people who invaded her castle when she was a child and killed her mother. She is their prisoner, though she doesn’t always live like one. She is put on display, and is often beaten in front of an audience. Now it’s time for her to rise up and take her place as Queen. I liked how Theo was positioned in this story in relation to the royals. In many contemporary fantasy novels, the main character is placed below the royal family, usually in a servant place. However, this one was different since Theo was more of a prisoner or hostage. I liked this twist. The story got a little slow and repetitive in the middle. However, the last 100 pages were so fast paced, I could hardly put the book down. There were some twists at the end, which have made me so excited about the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm hooked. Can't wait to read the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took me a while to get into, but once I hit the first quarter mark I felt myself get sucked into the book and became unable to put it down. I will definitely be reading the second book of this series.
CrossroadReviews More than 1 year ago
Noteworthy experiences while reading this book: I am a die-hard fantasy fan and this one hit it off early on. Do I Recommend this book? YES if you love darker themed stories this one is for you! Notes and Opinions: Color me sold with this very dark and dangerous fantasy. I think this one could have gone even darker but as it sits it was so amazing and I couldn't put it down. This one has it all magic, amazing characters, and some wonderful world building. The world building to this one was great. We get a rundown of the magic and the gods in this world as well as a little backstory on what happened. I would love a prequel to this one about Theo's mom and her rule. Or even further back. The author did a fabulous job making this world come to life and I never felt that it was info dumping or confusing me. The magic in this one was new (at least from what books I have read). I love reading about new creatures and new magic. So many authors just use the same old thing with a slight twist and this one didn't do that. The magic in this one was spot on and worked well. It was easy to follow but also still had that mystery surrounding it where you know that they don't know everything about their magic. It really made it feel vibrant, new, and amazing. The characters in this one were great. I do think that this would have made a very good dual POV with Theo and Soren but as it sits it was still wonderful. I really loved Theo she was put into a situation where everything was her fault even though it wasn't. I don't think I would have been strong enough to be whipped again and again. She was strong and fierce and a survivor. I am excited to see what happens in book two Lady Smoke. As for the light love triangle (yes there is one) I really enjoyed it. It was done very well and I again can't wait to see what is going to happen with it. At the end of this book, you find something out about one of her loves. And I am very interested to see how that plays out. At the end of this one, I think that this one overall could have been much darker. This being a higher young adult story I think that the author could have gone all out with the darkness and really make us readers scream. But as it sits I still really loved it. It was pretty much perfect in my eyes. It was still plenty dark and had such an amazing world. If you like darker stories this one is for you! Go Into This One Knowing: Murder, Plots, Magic, Punishments (whipping), no cliffhanger, slight love triangle
Lynne_Lemon More than 1 year ago
"I am a lamb in the lion's cage, and I don't know that I can survive" I received this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 4/5 Stars - Enjoyed it immensely! While I've read a few reviews that say this is the same old same old when it comes to YA, I'm lucky in the fact I haven't been reading YA long and so I have not read the top YA fantasies. I was able to read this with fresh eyes. "We are not defined by the things we do in order to survive. We do not apologize for them...Maybe they have broken you, but you are a sharper weapon because of it. And it's time to strike" The author did an amazing job with character and world building. The tale was incredibly dark, describing ways in which the heroine had been abused/tortured, and how certain characters came to their deaths. There was plenty of intrigue and drama to keep me turning pages, with a few witty quips for good measure. While not a lot really happens, the story flows so smoothly and beautifully that it will keep you in it's grip until the very end. I cannot wait to dive in to Lady Smoke which is slated to be out in 2019.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the characters, except Theo (a.k.a Thora) and Cress, were rather 2 dimensional and predictable, the story line holds the reader's attention. I will read the next in the series but hope that more of the characters are written with more depth and their tie-in to the storyline more artful.
SaraOxo More than 1 year ago
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian a thrilling four-star read. This is the first book in the Ash Princess trilogy and what a start, this is a great start from the very first page I am so excited for the next book in the series. I would give it five-stars but I was expecting a light and interesting read with some intrigue and mystery and what I got was heavy and darker than I thought it was going to be. If it wasn’t as well planned and written as it is, I would have marked it down. If you like the genre then you will like this story, you may see aspects of other stories in it, but it has been put together well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
**Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this title!** When Theodosia was six, her country was invaded, and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. Her life was spared, and she was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner. Ten years later, Theo has survived the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court by burying the girl she used to be and putting on the mantle of Thora, submissive and docile girl. Finally, Theo is pushed too far when she is forced to commit an act that she can't forgive herself for. She snaps back from her submissive personality to her old, fiery self, and is determined to be the queen her people deserves. Kat's Notes: This was a good story; there's nothing wrong with Theo's tale. My frustration with it is, it's very familiar. This hasn't even been published yet, and it feels like I've already read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
Ash Princess was a surprisingly dark and heavy book that I actually found difficult to read at times. I do appreciate that Sebastian tried to stay true to the reality of colonization but this book relies heavily on some of the darker aspects. If you’re thinking of reading this one, there are trigger warnings for physical and psychological abuse and rape. At the beginning of Ash Princess, Theodora, or Thora, is entirely complacent after a lifetime of beatings and abuse by the man who conquered her country. Known as the “Ash Princess,” Theo is kept alive only at the whims of the Kalovaxian invaders. Her people are enslaved and their lands slowly pillaged and destroyed. Then, the Kaiser forces Theo to do the unthinkable. Destroyed by her actions and uncaring of what it will cost, Theo begins to plot her revenge. I wasn’t quite able to connect with the characters or the story. This is entirely a “it’s me, not you” thing so I do think that a lot of readers are going to love this book. Theo was an interesting character and I enjoyed it when she finally started to stand up for herself. I did like how Sebastian explored empowerment, particularly because Theo’s rebellion was more intellectual than physical. The love triangle didn’t really work for me. I thought that the story with one love interest was significantly more compelling and layered than the other. The choices that Theo ultimately has to make were heart-breaking and I’m intrigued to see their repercussions. I also liked how Sebastian portrayed Theo’s inner conflict between her duty to her people versus her desire to protect herself. Ash Princess was dark and brutal but still engaging. It wasn’t quite my cup of tea but I think many readers will love this one. I will probably continue with the series, I’m interested in seeing where the author takes the story next. *I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.