Book Review - Fledging (The Ashen Levels #1) by C.F. Welburn
A review of
By C.F. Welburn
Fledgling is the first book in Welburn’s Ashen Levels. It’s a relatively short read but I found it thoroughly enjoyable.
The story follows Balagir as he wakes up beside a fire without any memory of how he got there. It appears he is now one of the ashen, but has no idea exactly what that is. Balagir quickly discovers he can complete tasks and receive the gift of smoke which is then traded to the strange piper at the fireside. There are other strange creatures in this book, not all human, some are ashen too some are not. Balagir discovers other ashen around the fire and the mysterious piper is always there to take their smoke, and no matter where he is, he will stumble across the campfire and the piper.
This story follows Balagir as he undertakes a number of tasks, almost like a series of short connected adventures, each time revealing another small piece of the mystery. The characters are interesting and often treacherous – it seems the life of an ashen is one of treachery and smoke. I really enjoyed the different humanoids that Balagir comes across or journeys with, the world is dangerous and yet interesting, Welburn really captured the lost in a world of which the character has no knowledge of, Balagir is literally a fledging learning his way in this strange new world.
One of the things that struck me about this book is the prose, Welburn has a style of writing that has managed to achieve a timeless, almost classic feel. It’s a story full of questions and mystery which all serve to drive the reader onward to discover more of the nature of the Ashen, which is a mystery that has me curious so I will certainly be reading on to discover what happens to Balagir.
I very much enjoyed this first taste of The Ashen Levels, I look forward to the next instalment (which is already available, the entire series is complete and released – it’s also available as an epic omnibus edition). I would recommend this book to any fan of fantasy looking for something well written and intriguing.
Thanks for reading,