Ember and Ash

Ember and Ash

by Pamela Freeman

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, February 25

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316053754
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: 05/01/2011
Pages: 528
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Pamela Freeman is an award-winning writer for young people. She has a Doctorate of Creative Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney, where she has also lectured in creative writing. She lives in Sydney with her husband and young son. Find out more about the author at www.pamelafreemanbooks.com.

Read an Excerpt

Ember and Ash

By Freeman, Pamela


Copyright © 2011 Freeman, Pamela
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316053754

The Deep

This is the oath we ask of you,” the Prowman said. “Will you give it? To be silent to death of what you see, of what you hear, of what you do?”

Ash blinked slowly. Could he give that oath? What if whatever he saw was treasonous? Or dangerous to others? But the Prowman was his uncle, in all but blood, and everyone Ash trusted, trusted him. So he nodded, and when the Prowman spat on his hand and held it out, Ash spat on his and clasped it.

“You must speak,” the Prowman prodded.

“I swear,” Ash said, his deep voice echoing off the high canyon walls.

“Do you swear upon pain of shunning, never to speak of this place outside of this place?”

“I swear.”

“Do you swear upon pain of death never to guide another to this place who has not the blood right?”

Ash had no idea what the blood right was, but no doubt he’d find out—if he swore. His curiosity was roused.

“I swear,” he said.

“Do you swear upon pain beyond death, the pain of never being reborn, to keep the secrets of this place with your honor, with your strength, with your life?”

What in the cold hells was this about? Ash wondered. But trust was trust.

“I swear,” he said, his voice coming a little hoarsely.

The Prowman smiled, his dark eyes lighting up with relief and pleasure. Then he stood back and gestured, inviting Ash to walk through.

Ash took a long breath. Before him was a narrow crack in the blood-red wall of the canyon. It was just after dusk, and the shadows were growing toward him. He and the Prowman had journeyed all day through the network of red sandstone canyons and streams and fissures that made up the wilds of Gabriston. It was a place with a bad reputation—those who went in alone, they said, never came out. Eaten by demons. Wind wailing through the canyons caused those stories, Ash reckoned. Or the many waters, falling and dripping and calling. The streams all drained eventually to the Hidden River, the fast, turbulent watercourse that fell headlong from the lake to their west.

It was a long way from the cold, clean Western Mountains, where his home was. Here the air was damp and heavy. He felt as though he were choking on it. Even the red walls oozed water like blood.

“What would have happened if I hadn’t sworn?” he asked, turning his head to look his uncle in the eye.

“We would have gone home,” the Prowman said, shrugging.

Oddly enough, that was disturbing. He wanted to find out what all this palaver was about. So he walked through the opening, and waited. The Prowman went past him and, smiling reassuringly, said, “Not far now.” It was the tone an adult uses to a child, but Ash let it pass. Although the Prowman looked only a few years older than his own twenty-one years, Ash knew he had to be far older than that—at least as old as Ash’s parents. He had seen Ash born, after all—the Prowman’s real name, they said, was also Ash, and he had been named after him. No doubt he still thought of Ash as the baby he’d once known. Ash was used to that. He had aunts.

So he shrugged and followed the Prowman around a turn, with the constant noise of wind wailing through rocks making his ears buzz.

There was another canyon, and beyond that another, and for an hour more they threaded their way through increasingly narrow passageways, while the night grew dark above them. Glow-worms studded the walls, giving a meagre light once their eyes had adjusted.

The further they went, the more Ash wondered why he’d come. The Prowman had just appeared one day, after an absence of years, and said he had something important to take Ash to. His mother, her pale eyes bright, had urged him to go, even though he would miss his cousin Ember’s wedding. His father had shrugged. Whatever the Prowman wanted, he should have. A hero was a hero, and the Prowman was the most famous living hero, although Ash’s grandmother, Martine, ran close. So Ash had agreed to go.

But this winding, closed-in path was as alien to him as the sea. He’d been raised in the mountains, where every vista was long and capped with snow; where the sky seemed so high above you that there was unlimited breathing space. He didn’t like the feeling of being hemmed in. Imprisoned by the blood-red sandstone walls of the Deep.

Then they came to a violent stream, with a rocky waterfall, and the Prowman made him give blood and gave some himself and declared that they had the blood right. Ash, son of Elva, the Prowman called him, because it was by his mother’s blood that he had the right to be here. The old blood.

As the blood touched the stream, the waters calmed. It startled him: there was power here, then, of some kind. He was accustomed to power—his mother was a mouthpiece for the local gods, a kind of prophet—but he had never seen power affect a physical substance like water before. It made him more alert. There were spells operating, maybe. He’d heard so many stories of spells that as a child he’d longed to see one cast, but right now he’d do without. They went further into the maze of fissures.

Demons howled.

Ash started—that was no wind in the rocks, that was a flesh-and-blood throat making those noises. He glanced at the Prowman and saw the small smile on his face, so he bit back his questions and ignored the sound, although all the hairs on the back of his neck were upright, and his arms were furred with goosebumps.

They emerged into what seemed like bright light—an open space lit by a big fire. The canyon walls rose up all around, enclosing them securely. A good, defensible hiding spot, Ash thought, and wondered if he had been brought here to meet rebels. There were some, they said, who had been dissatisfied with the Resettlement, twenty or so years ago. Those forced from land their fathers had farmed so that Travelers could have land of their own, and live safe. They resented it, even though they were tenants of the warlords and farmed only at their pleasure. Some of them, the stories said, had taken to the wild places and raided warlords’ supplies to stay alive. But surely the Prowman, whose hair was as black as any Traveler’s could be, wouldn’t support dissatisfied blondies?

He had only a moment to think this through. Then, from a cave mouth on the other side of the fire, a stream of shapes came pouring out.

Demons. Demons with the bodies of men and the heads of animals. They leaped, naked, in the firelight, shrieking and howling and ululating. His throat clenched, his bowels tightened with fear. They surrounded him, their hands angling flints, sharp as knives, at his throat. Through the fear he felt a flicker of irritation with his uncle. He could have warned me, he thought. Ash planted his feet and stood still, sure that the Prowman wouldn’t have brought him into a nest of demons if it were really dangerous.

“He is a member of the blood,” the Prowman called to the demons. He nudged Ash. “Tell them who you are,” he said.

“I am Ash, son of—son of Elva,” Ash said.

“Whose blood has calmed the waters,” the Prowman prompted.

“Whose blood has calmed the waters,” he repeated.

The demons shrieked again and their hands dropped. They stood, panting as animals do, their eyes bright with interest.

“He is a bowyer,” the Prowman added. “Will you teach him what he needs to know?” And they howled again, with approval.

Two of them, a wolf and a deer, came forward and tried to strip away his clothes. He stepped back and fended them off.

“It’s all right,” the Prowman said reassuringly. “In the Deep, we show our true shapes.” But he made no move to undress.

“You don’t,” Ash said.

“This is my true shape,” the Prowman said. “You are here to learn yours, as all these have done.” He gestured to the demons waiting, and Ash suddenly understood. They were men. Human men, who had come here to be transformed. Who had deliberately come here to be transformed. His stomach turned a little. Why would anyone choose to make himself into a monster?

“If you hold still and show no fear, you will not be harmed,” the Prowman said. “This is the first test.”

“What happens if I pass?” Ash demanded.

“Then there are others. And eventually, if you pass them all, you will be allowed to discover your true self. To know who you really are. This is the River’s gift to those of Traveler blood.”

The ground felt solid enough beneath his feet, even if the rest of the world had gone awry. The gleaming naked skins, the sharp animal scents around him, the fire leaping high and something else, some sense that he was being watched by whatever power had calmed the stream, made him dizzy. This was an invitation to journey into a place he’d never imagined; in ways that he could only dimly make out. To find—what? Himself? He planted his feet more firmly.

“I know who I really am,” he said.

The demons hissed disapproval.

“And I’m not a Traveler,” he added.

The hands with their flint knives came up again and the demons—the men—turned to the Prowman with anger.

“His blood calmed the waters,” he said hastily. “His mother was a Traveler.”

“Not for long,” Ash said. “Before that, her people farmed Cliffhaven for thousands of years. And my people have been rooted at High Fields in Hidden Valley since just after Acton came over the mountains. I have the old blood, yes, but I’m not a Traveler.”

Travelers had been despised and mistreated in the Eleven Domains for a thousand years, until the Resettlement. Even now, there were those who distrusted them. They were known by their dark hair, a sign that the old blood, the blood of the people who had first inhabited this country, flowed in their veins. The later incomers, the invaders, his father’s people, were blue-eyed and blond, or redheaded.

They inspected him. His light brown hair, his hazel eyes, his big, muscular build, so unlike the rangy Prowman next to him. Unlike them—all of them were dark-haired and slightly built. Ash looked like one of Acton’s people, all right, but he wasn’t that either, he thought. He wasn’t dark or blond—he was the two combined, and he belonged in Hidden Valley, on the land that his ancestors had claimed from the wilderness. There had been no one of the old blood living in Hidden Valley when his ancestors arrived. They had displaced no one.

“The River will show you the shape of your soul,” the Prowman said gently, as though Ash didn’t understand what he was being offered.

Ash didn’t want to give offense, but this primitive ritual stirred nothing in him but a vague distaste. Pity, even, for those who needed it. No doubt a secret society had been important, in the days when every man’s hand had been turned against Travelers. But times had changed. Besides—

“I know the shape of my soul,” he answered calmly. “It’s an arrow in flight.”

The image in his mind was as clear as a star: fletched with gray goose feathers, his arrow soaring into the bright sky, the clean whistling it made cutting through the air like a benediction on him. That was who he was. What he did. What he wanted.

“I thank you,” he said gently. “But I think this path is not for me.”

A bough broke and the fire shot upward, throwing sparks. The wind caught them so that their glow seemed to dance in front of his eyes and he and the Prowman were surrounded by flying shards of light.

The demons turned away, and filed back slowly, disappointed, into the cave. The Prowman stood still, as though listening to someone speak a long way off.

“There is only one chance,” he said. “Turn away, and She won’t have you back.”

“She?” Ash asked. The River’s gift, he’d said before.

“You haven’t earned the right to know more.”

That was fair. But there was something else, an unasked question in the way the Prowman stood, on the balls of his feet, ready for—what?

“My oaths stand,” Ash said mildly. “I will keep silence.”

A certain tension went out of the Prowman’s shoulders, although he was disappointed, no doubt about that.

“Would you have killed me if I’d said otherwise?” Ash asked.

“Me? I wouldn’t have had to. You wouldn’t have made it across the stream,” the Prowman said simply. “Come on. No sense staying here.” He nodded toward the cave. “They won’t be happy with you in the morning.”

They retraced their steps, the Prowman saying nothing, lost in thought.

“I brought you here too late,” he said. “You’re supposed to come when your voice first breaks, but I was—elsewhere—then.”

Ash shrugged.

“I don’t think it would have made any difference,” he said.

As they threaded their way back through the canyons, the wind swirled around them, lifting the oppressive heat and seeming to sing through the rocks. Ash found it soothing now, even joyful, but he was still glad when they came out into the wide spaces of the Gabriston vineyards, near where they had left their horses. It was still dark, but the sky had begun to pale.

He hesitated, but he might as well say it. He hadn’t wanted to come on this trip in the first place. It was only his mother’s insistence that had convinced him. There was somewhere else he would much rather be. His cousin Ember had promised it would be a party to remember.

“Since we’re leaving so quickly,” he said, “do you think we could still be in time for Ember’s wedding?”

The Prowman began to laugh, as though acknowledging that his own disappointment was unimportant.

“Aye,” he said. “If we ride at daybreak.”


Excerpted from Ember and Ash by Freeman, Pamela Copyright © 2011 by Freeman, Pamela. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Ember and Ash 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
For over a millennium, two races have battled over the Eleven Domains. Ember, the daughter of the Last Domain warlord Arvid and his wife Martine, is to marry another domain's heir to bind these two clans in peace. Only the elemental Fire God is irate with the affront of seeking peace by his followers with another God's followers. Ember's new husband dies in flames and all fires in the land are vanquished unless the new widow agrees to be the deity's lover. Ember and a seer's offspring Ash begin a quest to travel to Fire Mountain in the land of another warlord the Ice King. There they plan to capture the elemental fire and to bring him home to relight the land. Both know the Ice King will kill them and that the Fire God will do likewise. Failure means the ancient wars will reignite while other dormant elementals begin awakening with a fury. Taking place in the realm of the Castings, Ember and Ash is a terrific quest fantasy as the hunt for fire awakens the dormant Gods who demand obedience from their subjects, which includes war not peace with other clans in the Eleven Domains. The story line is complicated by following the escapades of other key characters like visits to the Last Domain and the awakening elemental Gods, while Ember and Ash are on their trek. Fans will enjoy returning to the Castings as the "Gods must be angry". Harriet Klausner
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I really did enjoy this read, and while I didn't quite *like* the ending, it was the right end for the society.Ember has a path laid out for her life. She's going to marry Osfrid and unite two kingdoms. It's what is planned. Until the part of the marriage cermony where they leap the fire together, and Osfrid is consumed by fire. Fire speaks directly to Ember and sends her on a quest, when she resits he takes fire away from almost everyone, it's never really explained why certain fires remain, but there are a few. Add to it that the weather looks set to get colder and Ember has to endure a quest with some of the guards. As they continue on the quest many of the people with them are killed or leave. Almost everyone on this quest has something that will change them in the story.I liked it, when I finished I was satisfied with the ending, not entirely happy with it, but it was consistent with the characters as established.
VivalaErin on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I enjoyed the elemental side of this story; it reminds me of the gods in the Castings Trilogy, but a bit different. I was glad to be able to see some of those characters again as well as the new ones. Ember grew on me toward the end once she started acting like a real person, and I like this Ash almost as much as his uncle! I love the world that Freeman creates; she really knows how to paint a lovely setting. And she makes some great characters. Fire and the other elements personified (for lack of a better word) make it feel more like epic fantasy, which I like.The ending wrapped up a bit too quickly, some conflicts too easily resolved, but I believe it ended the only way it could have. It wasn't as involved as the original trilogy, but it was good for a follow-up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pretty fgood. But, I can't advertise because I am locked out of erin hunter. I do not know how tho.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First, I'd like to thank all of you who reveiwed in the prolouge. Thanks a ton!)) <br> <p> -Tala- <br> The birdsong flooded the forest. Squirrels scampered around playfully. It was perfect, with the flowers and leaved trees. However, something here was wrong. Death had occurred, and not long ago. A yound woman stepped into veiw silently with her leather boots with fur lining. She was wearing a gray shirt with some fur vest over it. The fur was short, and it was a tan color with silver. She carried a bow and quiver. A bag was slung over her shoulder. Her belt was leather with thin iron plates. She wore a braided leather necklace with wolf teeth, a golden eagle feather, turquoise beads, and a golden ring with a falcon with the wings outstretched in the center. This showed her position as the falcon's royal huntress. This was Tala. Tala carried a bag with her equipment inside. She heard a loud crack. Tala dropped instantly. She took her bow off her shoulder and nocked an arrow silently. Only the wind moved, but then, a snuffling noise interrupted the eerie quiet. Tala saw a small wolf, and drew her bow. She aimed, and let the falcon-feather arrow fly. She stood and went over to her kill. Tala stepped down the bank to the bubbling stream to clean her arrow. She rubbed the fresh blood off, and found a tiny bone on the tip. He used her bone-handled knife to chip it off the obsidian point. Tala bagged her kill, and made her way to the edge of the clearing. She set up a tent, and lay down to rest. As Tala drifted into sleep, a dream came to her. She was racing thriuh the forest, and a shout stopped her in her tracks. It had come from the woman that was killed by the wolf man. She screamed, and the wolf man withdrew his spear. Tala peeked through the bushes and saw the death taking place in the same clearing she was sleeping in. A strange bird call woke her. She stood and nocked an arrow. She crept into the clearing. She caught sight of something moving in the grass. It was a blavk and red cape, near a bloodied spear with red and blak fabric. Tala knelt, her green eyes blazing. The royal huntress rubbed the cloak between her fingers. "General Canis has been here." She muttered, realizing what her dream meant. Tala raced back to her makeshift camp and tore it down. She was packed up and ready to go within three minutes. Tala raced out of the death-filled forest to report to her king and queen. However, she did not notice the eyes of General Canis peeking at her though the trees. He grinned evily. "Alpha Lukas will hear about this." The general snarled, loping away to the territory of the wolves. <br> <p> &starf&star I am aware this was not the best chapter. However, my mom doen't know that I rp and write stories, so if she saw me doing it, that would be bad. My mom would watch mevlike a hawk whenevee I am on my NOOK. She almost caught me multiple times. I will make the next one much better. I will be taking apps in chapter 5. I have most of the storyline out already. So, you may not get the position you want. Like if you wanted to be queen or princess, or king, I have those already thought out. But in chapter 5 please leave an application. Thanks! Also, would you all help advertise for me? I ean, you don't have to, but just a quick mention would be great. Thanks for everyhing, readers! <br> <p> ~D&alpha&omega&eta&star
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Still Amazing!