A Sword of Bronze and Ashes, by Anna Smith Spark

The Book

A Sword of Bronze and Ashes
Pages: 336
Age Group: Adult
Published on 9/12/2023
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Folk HorrorFantasy
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A Sword of Bronze and Ashes combines the fierce beauty of Celtic myth with grimdark battle violence. It's a lyrical, folk horror high fantasy.

Kanda has a good life until shadows from her past return threatening everything she loves. And Kanda, like any parent, has things in her past she does not want her children to know. Red war is pursued by an ancient evil, Kanda must call upon all her strength to protect her family. But how can she keep her children safe, if they want to stand as warriors beside her when the light fades and darkness rises?  

My Review

A Sword of Bronze and Ashes is the latest novel by the Queen of Grimdark, Anna Smith Spark, a blend of folk horror (partly inspired by Celtic myths) with epic fantasy, published by Flame Tree Press. A story that is also an ode to the power of motherhood and the bonds that tie families told in the characteristic lyrical prose that is usual in Smith Spark's writing.

A mother with a wonderful husband and three kids (Calian, Morna and Sal), Kanda was once the most powerful warrior of the Six Swords of Roven; a past that she has kept hidden from her family. However, an ancient evil is threatening to interrupt her peaceful agrarian life, the monotony is broken and she will have to embrace that past she wanted to abandon in order to protect those she loves, even if that means putting in risk her family.

Told using both, first and third person POVs, it evokes the oral aspects that folk stories tend to have, especially when Kanda remembers her past; a past that progressively passes from being heroic to a dark moment of her life. Moments when Kanda got taken by the bloodlust and made her show her the worst aspects.
Alternating past and present, Smith Spark weaves a multilayered story, showing the different nuances a woman, and most importantly, a mother can experience, always with her family as the center of her life.

If there's an element you can expect to see in any Smith Spark's book, is how the prose is used in a masterful way, with a style that could be called an analogue to the Greek epic poems; there's a special cadence in her words (despite I can understand this not being a book liked by everybody).

A Sword of Bronze and Ashes is a highly emotional story, using the epicness of grimdark to tell the story of a woman, a mother. Another excellent book by the Queen of Grimdark. 

The Author/s

Anna Smith Spark

Anna Smith Spark

Anna Smith Spark lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history, and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website www.greatworks.org.uk. Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher, and fetish model.

Anna’s favourite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart, and Mary Renault. She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player. She can often be spotted at SFF conventions wearing very unusual shoes.