In The Ascenditure, Klarke Ascher is attempting a feat never accomplished by women in her kingdom before: to become an Ascenditure, a member of the elite climbing group of Ectair. She has been beaten out for the job once before, even though she is clearly the better climber, but was denied the position because she is a female. Females in Ectair are expected to be wives and mothers, married off in arranged marriages starting at the age of seventeen. Klarke is seventeen and she is lucky enough to be lodged in an all woman tenement. Soon, she will be ordered to marry unless she can beat the odds and the discrimination of the men in charge. Klarke has had a mentor, Elias, since she was eight years old when her father died at sea and shortly after her mother died of Death’s Whisper. Elias is an Ascenditure and was a friend of her father’s and promised him he would look after Klarke if he passed. Elias has mentored Klarke in climbing and has been able to keep her safe thus far, securing her spot in the all female tenement, but he can only do so much. Klarke must keep climbing, keep fighting, and keep her wits about her. She will have many mountains to face, literally and figuratively, if she is to have the life she dreams of. Foes abound from peasants to the King himself. If she succeeds and becomes an Ascenditure, will she be safe? Will her team accept and protect her? Will she be happy? Will she continue to fight for all the women of her kingdom?
Amazing!!! This book is wonderful! So much happens in this book, it keeps the readers on their toes and anxious to keep reading. When I wasn’t reading, I was wondering what was happening… always a good sign of a fantastic book.
The main plot of the book is Klarke becoming an Ascenditure, but there are many other subplots throughout the story that keep the reader interested and engaged. First, there is Rayna, Klarke’s best friend and roommate in the tenement. Soon to be assigned as a brideprize, Rayna is frail and works in the factories that often cause the workers to have many health problems. Klarke has promised to help her when she becomes an Ascenditure, and their relationship is one of true friendship and love. Then there is the relationship with Elias, who is like a second father to Klarke. Without giving away any of the book, a mystery surrounding Elias crops up that Klarke needs to uncover. Another mystery Klarke stumbles on is the truth about her parents. They loved her and she them, and they lived in a well-to-do part of the kingdom. She remembers them well. Her father was a captain of a ship with orange sails. He and his whole crew died at sea, including her best childhood friend. She also hears things about her mother she never knew. Last but not least are the countless attempts on Klarke’s life, and the mystery of who is trying to kill her by order of the King.
There are so many characters, and they are so well developed. Klarke is the main character, but not far behind are Elias, the other members of the Ascenditures, Rayna, the King, and the Prince. I felt like I have known all of these characters my whole life. The one outlier would be the King because I don’t think we know all we could about the King, and that is on purpose in my opinion.
The settings of this book are varied and of a made-up kingdom. There are two maps in the front of the book to help with visualization, but I didn't even look at them until the end of the book. I didn't need them. The descriptions of the settings were so well done that I could see exactly what was happening in my mind.
The themes of this book are as varied as the plots. Woman as heroine, equality for women, democracy, good vs evil, survival in nature and civilization, hard work, perseverance, courage, friendship and love. All are wonderful themes, fantastically written and are woven seamlessly through the entire book.
The one thing I wish the author would have done is include a glossary for the fictional language the characters sometimes speak in, but you can infer what the words mean by the surrounding language. I would just like to know the exact definition.
The ending of this book is great the way it is, but I sure hope this becomes a series. I truly hope a sequel is already in the works. I will be watching to see if Klarke makes a return to the literary world, as I for one, am not done with her or her world. Not even close.