Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

A Heart of Blood and Ashes
(A Gathering of Dragons #1)
by Milla Vane
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: Feb. 4, 2020
Genre: Fantasy Romance

A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil – until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…


A Heart of Blood and Ashes is a very interesting fantasy romance. Maddek is a warrior from a tribe that is a bit more unrefined than the other lands. So, when his parents, King and Queen of his people are murdered by a sister land, he seeks revenge of those responsible. It turns out that the daughter of the king is the one who lured his parent’s to their death. However, when he captures her, he soon realizes that maybe she was also held captive and abused as well. Their alliance could be what ends her father’s tyranny over her people.

I won’t lie, when I saw that this was a “Gathering of Dragons” series, I thought that meant literal dragons. Alas, the dragon is Maddek’s closest warriors/personal guard. So, while this is a fantasy, no dragons will be seen here. However, there are a bunch of other crazy, creepy creatures that pop up in the story. Which lend a layer of suspense to the story since it is obvious that there is a sorcerer who is controlling these undead creatures. Let’s just say that these characters don’t get a lot of down time due to always trying to outrun their enemy.

While there are a lot of fight scenes and other various suspenseful moments, I did feel that this story dragged a bit. I admire that the author really took their time painting the world and characters, but it became so tedious to read. I found myself being both equally enthralled and bored. It was an odd combination to say the least. I wanted to know what would become of Yvenne and Maddek, but I just didn’t want to read any more lengthy pages about the lands, history, or inner dialog. I just wanted the meat of the story.

While I was a little bored through a good majority of the story, I enjoyed the story as a whole. I think it would make a good movie. The author clearly put an immense amount of thought into this world they built. However, for me, I wanted more show and less tell when it came to Yvenne and Maddek’s story. Maybe now that we know the history of the land the next book will focus more on the characters. Only time will tell though.



2 Thoughts on “Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

  1. Oh I would have thought literal dragons too.

  2. I had a blast with this book. I am sorry you were bored with aspects of this story, but happy you enjoyed it overall.

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