Ashes of a Black Frost by Chris Evans (The Iron Elves: Book 3)

The Calahrian Empire is collapsing. All across the realm native populations are rising up to throw off the shackles of colonial rule. Two key factors drive this - the return of the Stars of Power and Knowledge and the spread of the Shadow Monarch's forest. The result is that the Calahrian Imperial Army is stretched thin trying to maintain order at the critical moment when it is needed to fend off the advances of the elf-witch. For the Iron Elves regiment, their loyalty is tested to the breaking point. The Prince is devastated by the destruction of the Lost Library and the realization that the Empire he is to inherit is crumbling. Major Konowa Swift Dragon is determined to lead the living survivors of the regiment while Private Alwyn Renwar - an emissary with his own agenda - commands the dead. Together, their only hope is to break the oath that binds them, but doing so means making the perilous journey to the Shadow Monarch's mountain in a final confrontation that may be the ultimate trap. There is only one way to find out...

The third and last of the Iron Elves trilogy. The first book, A Darkness Forged in Fire, was a great debut. The second book, The Light of Burning Shadows was better and had an awesome cliff-hanger to end it.

This third book starts off pretty good. As the story went, from book one to book three, it became more and more grim with the reality of war seeping through.  I liked this transition because it would be only natural for an army to experience the horrors of war.

As would be expected of the ending book in the trilogy, Konowa finally determinates that the Iron Elves will march to ‘The Shadow Monarch’ to end it all. However, the traveling to her land takes time. A lot of time, which Evans filled with more plots and humour.

In my opinion that wasn’t necessary anymore. The humour got kind of bleached by the horror around it and by making ‘fun’ it kind of didn’t work as well as it was probably meant to. Having more plots didn’t work out as well either, because there just wasn’t enough book to fill in all the questions.

A great thing however is the amount of action. This story is filled with spectacular fighting scenes. The characters have to go through hell and back and that part is great.

Another great thing is the skill of this writer. I can praise his prose, creativity and knowledge but after all this praise I have to say this story has been put in too little space. It shouldn’t have been a trilogy but a series in which certain characters would have been able to gain a bit more depth and credibility to them. In that way, Evans would have been able to spread this story out and instead of spreading it too thin he could have filled it with a bit more world and character building. He certainly would have been able to give the story a fulfilling and satisfying ending instead of rushing it a bit.

So, as a conclusion. Yes, I did enjoy this trilogy. A lot actually, it’s fun with an odd mix between macabre, exciting and plain humour. I would recommend it to friends but not as the best thing there is. I also believe this writer has way more up on his sleeve and I will certainly await his next book with great enthusiasm.

Darker, grittier and still tremendous amounts of action. Pretty good, but just short of great.

7/10 Darker, grittier and still tremendous amounts of action. Pretty good, but just short of great.

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