Meghan Brunner,
From the Ashes
(1st Books, 2002)

On the whole, I'd rather just go to a Renaissance faire.

Still, From the Ashes has a lot of appeal for both rennies and mundanes. (If you have to ask, you probably are one of the latter; the definition loosely is folks who don't participate in Ren faires, sci-fi cons, etc.) Anyone who's ever attended a Ren faire or has been curious about one gets a good look at what goes on behind-the-scenes in Meghan Brunner's novel. In some ways, they get too good of a look. Brunner's anecdotes are interesting in relation to character development, but they bog the plot down.

Essentially, the story is about friendship, good and evil, that takes place against the magickal backdrop of the Pendragon Faire. Ryna, who is a career rennie and is magickally gifted, has been in the faires for so long they're ordinary to her. Plus, she's working to overcome a romance gone bad with Liam. Bea, who just started in the faire scene, is seeing the event through fresh eyes, but is having some "rookie" problems. Liam is attracted to Bea, but Bea is feeling more interest for Ryna. The story between the two is engaging and interesting.

For a first novel, From the Ashes is not bad, just not quite mature and developed. Brunner does wonderful character; however, the balance between that and plot is uneven because of too many side trips.

review by
Becky Kyle

13 June 2009

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