Review: A Sword of Bronze and Ashes by Anna Smith Spark


Kanda has a good life until shadows from her past return threatening everything she loves. And Kanda, like any parent, has things in her past she does not want her children to know. Red war is pursued by an ancient evil, Kanda must call upon all her strength to protect her family. But how can she keep her children safe, if they want to stand as warriors beside her when the light fades and darkness rises?


A Sword of Bronze and Ashes, authored by Anna Smith Spark, is a peculiar yet captivating piece of literature, crafted with eloquent and artistic language, making it quite challenging to provide a definitive rating.

Personally, I found great pleasure in Kanda’s narrative, both as Kanda herself—a devoted mother of three daughters—and as Ikandera Thygethen, a former warrior and member of the esteemed Six Swords of Roven. The remarkable quality of the lyrical prose shines brightly throughout A Sword of Bronze and Ashes. The storyline itself is peculiar, replete with enigmatic and somber moments that skillfully evoke deep emotions within the reader.

The depiction of Kanda’s family dynamics was exquisitely rendered. Anna Smith Spark skillfully captured the realism in her relationships with her husband, Dellet, and her daughters, Sal, Calian, and Morna. The author beautifully portrayed how, despite occasional arguments and outbursts of anger, the profound love and trust between husband and wife ultimately triumph. Another remarkable aspect that caught my attention was Spark’s authentic portrayal of the complex bond between Kanda and her daughter, Calian. Their interactions as mother and daughter involved intense arguments and moments of cruelty, yet they found solace and support in each other during challenging times, drawing strength from their connection to persevere.

I was particularly enthralled by Spark’s adept depiction of the changes a woman’s body undergoes during childbirth and the gradual process of aging, and how Kanda fearlessly and unapologetically embraced her physical form. Furthermore, witnessing her contentment in leading a simple life as a farmer’s wife, despite her past as a formidable warrior, was truly heartwarming.

Spark’s skillful narrative technique of alternating between the present and Kanda’s past added a compelling layer to the story, infusing it with suspense and intrigue. The seamless transitions between timelines provided a deeper understanding of the characters and their motivations, enriching the overall reading experience.

While A Sword of Bronze and Ashes possessed many commendable aspects, there were moments when I found the pacing to be excessively slow, despite numerous events occurring on the surface. Although the story delved into intriguing elements like Hall Roven, The Lord and Lady Roven, and the Six Swords, I couldn’t shake the feeling that their contributions to the overall plot were not sufficiently impactful. Additionally, I encountered instances where the dialogues seemed repetitive, hindering the progression of the narrative. The magic system, too, remained elusive to my understanding, leaving me with unanswered questions about its mechanics and rules.

In summary, A Sword of Bronze and Ashes offers a poignant exploration of a mother’s unwavering dedication to safeguarding her children. Despite occasional moments of tedium, I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to readers seeking a departure from conventional grimdark narratives. Its distinctive qualities and captivating portrayal of maternal love make it a worthwhile and refreshing read.

My sincere thanks to Netgalley, Flame Tree Press and Anna Smith Spark for providing me this advance reader copy of A Sword of Bronze and Ashes.


Book Cover

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