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Between Life and Death, Light and Shadow - an Editorial Review of "Ash and Ruin"

Ash and Ruin book cover

Book Blurb:


Rome has collapsed. Dark Forces eye the imperial remnants like birds of prey, ready to devour its carcass and any secrets hidden therein.

Among these, Arawn, ancient Celtic god of the afterlife, holds Erik of Birkenshire in his ruthless, etheric grip. As Erik dangles on the edge of undeath, facing an eternity as Arawn's bloody enforcer, his only hope of salvations is an ancient weapon—a blade of such darkness as to pierce the Gray God's shadowed hand and drive back his minions before they can swarm the living world.

To find this artifact, Erik must cross the dregs of once-great civilizations, a wasteland of wondrous enigma, rife with legend, where he must face terrifying new enemies that will test both his courage and his faith . . . and uncover staunch new allies in unexpected places.

The epic sequel to Annwyn's Blood, the acclaimed first installment of The Paladin of Shadow Chronicles, Ash and Ruin follows Erik as he is forced to confront monsters—both without and within as he struggles to reclaim his own humanity before everything he loves is lost.

Author Bio:

Michael Eging author photo

Michael Eging has wanted to write since he was very young. His earliest memories are of carrying a battered old notebook around full of illustrations and stories. He would often transpose those ideas on his grandmother's old typewriter.

While in college, he was inspired by professors and visiting writers to BYU. Literary classics such as Song of Roland and Inferno were often in his backpack, along with Russian textbooks. Chapter 4 of Annwyn's Blood was written during this time as a short story.

Recently, Mike has pursued an interest in writing screenplays for feature films with his first option being a medieval epic, Song of Roland. He continues to focus on a variety of script/movie projects, most recently a horror thriller, Feast of Saint Nicholas, and a political thriller, The Prince.

He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Lori and his wonderful children. He dreams of one day driving in his old Defender to Alaska with his kids and their dog, Rufus.

Steve Arnold author photo

Steve Arnold grew up on a farm in Northeast Ohio where he spent his free time reading Burroughs, Lovecraft, Zelazny and Tolkien, and his earliest writing efforts were creating adventures for his Dungeons & Dragons group. A veteran of the Army and the Navy, he currently lives near his childhood hometown. He has won awards for his writing in collaboration with Michael Eging on "The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland", and has, with Mike, previously published "Annwyn's Blood: The Paladin of Shadow Chronicles Book One" which hit Number 1 in its genre in September 2021, and is currently working on Book Two, "Ash & Ruin".

Editorial Review:

The guilty conscience take thou for thy labor,

But neither my good word nor princely favor,

With Cain go wander through shades of night,

And never show thy head by day nor light.

Lords, I protest my soul is full of woe

That blood should sprinkle me

For now the devil that told me I did well

Says that this deed is chronicled in hell.


                                    -William Shakespeare


When you open up a novel, and the first thing you read is a quote from William Shakespeare, you know it is going to be filled with not only words that are no longer often used in today’s writing but poetic as well. This novel did not disappoint. The authors, Michael Eging and Steve Arnold did a phenomenal job in their word choice and allowed the story to flow. It was as if a reader stepped back in time and read a classic that had not yet become a classic.


The story begins with a clear picture of the setting and the scene. You can easily visualize where you are in your mind and exactly what the characters look like.


We start off by following along with a young man named Dylan, who is traveling to a new place. He embarked on a ship and, once he arrives, finds himself begging for sanctuary from the cold from a monk.


This is a historical tale that is filled with deep imagination and an amazing story line.


You are being hunted, my son. But you know that, I suppose.”


Gripping dialog from the very beginning. As this very sentence ends, the words that follow will draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters that follow will cause you to sit up straight and question what they want with the “cup” that Dylan possesses and with Dylan. It is very intense and climactic.


This item you bear…..Is it worth a war between the living and the dead?”


As we continue reading, we are introduced to many new characters that will draw you in and keep you glued to the pages having to know what comes next. There are no dull or out-of-place characters. Each one adds to the story and keeps it flowing at the perfect pace. All contributing to the drama that continues to unfold as each page turns. As we engage with Erik and walk with him on his journey, we are often immersed in the unknown and terrifying possibilities of what may lie ahead. The descriptions and actions are written and read as scenes from a movie, and they play in your head as you read. You almost forget you are drowning in a book instead of watching a movie. The creatures described in each chapter are nightmarish to children, yet so vivid and entertaining.


This book is from a series and could easily be made into a movie series, just like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, and any reader would be highly excited if that were to happen.


This entire novel was extremely entertaining and offered no dead spots or boring chapters. Readers will be enthralled and the story will have you captivated and awaiting in eager anticipation for the next subsequent events to unfold the entire time. Very well done and very recommended.


"Ash and Ruin" by Michael Eging and Steve Arnold receives five stars and the "Highly Recommended" Award of Excellence from the Historical Fiction Company


HFC Highly Recommended Award of Excellence


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