Ashes of Honor

by Seanan McGuire

Cover image

Series: October Daye #6
Publisher: DAW
Copyright: September 2012
ISBN: 1-101-59480-2
Format: Kindle
Pages: 368

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This is the sixth book in the October Daye series, contains payoffs for some relationships that have been building over the whole series, and involves entangled politics set up by previous books. It's not the place to start with the series.

Ashes of Honor starts, as so many of Toby's books do, with a friend asking her for help. But this request is entirely unexpected, and the help needed comes as a complete surprise: a previously unknown changeling, who has disappeared. A changeling whose powers are completely out of control, and who poses a threat to reality itself.

As Toby's cases go, this involves a lot fewer horrible things happening to her and a lot more faerie politics and maneuvering than usual. I appreciated that; I'm not as fond of the books that go deep into despair or desperation. It does involve Toby getting almost killed multiple times, but, due to earlier events of the series, that isn't quite as bad as it used to be. More focus on investigation and political maneuvering and less Toby braving her way through horrors works for me.

Even more notably, this book marks Toby finally figuring out that she has friends and allies who are there to help, not just be obligations she feels overwhelmed by or aid that she's not allowed to accept. This was one of her most frustrating characteristics; it's a relief to see her finally relax. This opens the way not only for deeper friendships and more complex plots but also a relationship that I've been awaiting for the entire series, and it's as much fun as I was hoping it would be. Toby started the series rather messed up and unwilling to let anyone close. It was for understandable reasons, but I like her better when she realizes why people respect her.

Toby's connections with the royalty of the Bay Area also allow McGuire to tell a political story that moves farther afield from the Shadowed Hills. First in One Salt Sea and now in Ashes of Honor we see more of local politics, more of the lore of McGuire's universe, and another dangerous queen. Toby is particularly fun when she's dangerously outflanking people with considerably more power than she has. At this point, you could call it a specialty. I thought McGuire's take on San Jose and the sort of person who would be in charge of its fae was on point.

We also get more of the Luidaeg, which is always a good sign for a Toby novel, and more of Tybalt, who is entangled in a major subplot of the story. Next to Luidaeg, Tybalt is my favorite of Toby's friends, so this book is full of the things that make me happy. McGuire adds some more pieces to her transplanted Celtic mythology and some tantalizing hints of what the fae have left behind. I'm hoping we see more of that in future books. (I suspect that may be what this whole series is building up to.)

The story doesn't have quite as much oomph as One Salt Sea, but it's still one of the best books in the series so far. If you've enjoyed the series up to this point, keep reading.

Followed by Chimes at Midnight.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed: 2016-07-01

Last modified and spun 2017-05-08