Book Review: Ashling by Isobelle Carmody

Title: Ashling (Book 3 in The Obernewtyn Chronicles)
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Social Media: Facebook and Twitter
Publisher: Penguin
Price and Format: $22.95 Paperback format
Rating: 3 out of 5

About The Book:
‘Sometimes dreams were gateways through which messages might come. Beasts called them ashlings: dreams that called…’
The powerful farseeker Elspeth Gordie is sent to Sutrium, seat of the totalitarian Council that rules the land, to seal an alliance between the secret Misfit community at Obernewtyn and rebel forces.
She travels from the mountains reluctantly, for at any moment the long-awaited summons may come from the oldOnes to find and destroy the dormant weaponmachines left by the Beforetimers. The journey takes her far beyond the borders of the Land, across the sea and into the heart of the mysterious desert region of Sador. Here she discovers that she will need help to destroy the weaponmachines.
But before her dark quest can begin, Elspeth must learn the truth of her demise: she must understand why the Beforetimers destroyed their world…

Aspects I liked & enjoyed
~World Building: I liked learning more about the Twenty Families Gypsies and Sadorians and their own private cultural experience with The Great White in comparison to the land-dwellers. Jakoby and her daughter might be once off characters but I get the feeling they will be popping up again.

~Sources of Conflict: There were an interesting mixture of conflict sources, the Salamander and slave trade sub-plot was interesting, however I found the Rebellion sup-plot with Malick was predictable but it was something that needed to be addressed. While I think the mysterious coma convenient, I did feel it had a more natural domino effect on characters and plot than the rebellion one.

~Character Development: Nearly all the characters changed and grew in acceptable and meaningful ways, some negative and some positive, however I found that Elspeth’s character journey did border on cliché “Chosen One” territory.

Aspects I had Problems with
~Slow Narrative Pacing: While there was a lot going on plot-wise for Ashling, it seemed to run out of steam after they arrived at Sutrium and the Gypsy sub-plot was supposedly resolved, I got a little bored waiting around for them to all head off to Sador. However, due to reduction in plot activity, the good all reliable fall-back option of romance drama was evoked. Now the romance drama between Mathew and Dragon came across as acceptable, however the romance drama between Elspeth and Rushton came across as pointless, tedious and predictable.

~Worf Had the Flu: *spoilers* Dragon ends up a mysterious coma in this book for no real explainable reason other than if Dragon had been awake and been able to take part in the Battlegames, the result may have been different. I also found the Battle-games aspect predictable.

~Lots of Unresolved Sub-Plots: I understand that Isobelle Carmody is leaving some narrative possibilities open, but there were lots of unanswered questions and I would argue that the gypsy sub-plot and the problem with the tattoo were not resolved at all. I get that Elspeth’s world is very large and that there are lots of political factors that come into play, however I found it more frustrating than intriguing.

Overall, I got the feeling that Ashling was more of a “Narrative Set-Up” book and not “Narrative Action” book, however I am still want to know how it all connects together.

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