It is Immediately clear from page one of Ashes of Gold, that J. Elle is not holding her punches.
Rue is on the front lines of a pending fight against the Chancellor and the “grays”. The Chancellor has already stolen their land, their magic, and much of their culture, and it’s not enough. He wants it all, every last drop of magic. Rue is the only person of Ghizon to hold the ancestors magic. Naturally, she feels like she has to take on this fight alone, to save them all. This chapter is tough on your heart as a reader because we know that she’s shouldering too much on her own.
If you didn’t meet Rue in Wings of Ebony, she is strong-willed, fiercely loyal to her natural and chosen families, and always puts others needs before her own. Having grown up without magic (nor knowledge of magic) in East Row, she was very well equipped for the issues she’d find in The Capital and Ghizon.
“Moms raised a diamond, and diamonds don’t crack.” – Rue, Wings of Ebony
Despite what we know about Rue’s strength, she very much doubts herself in Ashes of Gold. All along in both books, Rue portrays the characteristics of a leader: compassion, intelligence, loyalty, selflessness, and more. Yet, with each misstep she makes, she doubts herself just a bit more. Both Jhamal and Julius, her new and old loves, see her as a queen. Jhamal sees it literally, calling her his queen all along, while Julius kind of jokes about it to keep her relaxed. Regardless of which ship you’re on, Jhamal or Julius, I think we can all agree that both young men are good for her. They both are vital to her growth in this story.
With the magic from her ancestors, the time has come for Rue, known as Jelani to her people, to take The Capital down.
The Chancellor has succeeded for too long at keeping the stolen magic of Ghizon for himself, and select citizens of The Capital. He underestimates the determination of Rue, the passion of her people, and the strength of new alliances made under duress. Written in a fantasy-fiction world, Ashes of Gold is a modernized telling of the oppressed rising up against tyranny. There are parallels to American history, and the current state of our society. Readers will lose themselves in this story, and hopefully find themselves full of love and empathy in the end.