59 pages 1 hour read

Carissa Broadbent

The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2023

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Summary and Study Guide


The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King (2023) is the second installment in Crowns of Nyaxia, a new-adult fantasy romance series originally self-published by Carissa Broadbent. The series was acquired and traditionally published by a romance imprint of Tor Books called Bramble. The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King is also the last installment in the Nightborn Duet, one of three planned duologues within the Crowns of Nyaxia series. The sequel follows Oraya, the adopted human daughter of the vampire Nightborn King Vincent, as she grieves the death of her father at the hands of her lover, Raihn, who has usurped the Nightborn King and now rules over the vampires of the House of Night.

This guide refers to the hardback edition self-published by Carissa Broadbent in 2023.

Content Warning: The source material includes mention of rape and suicidal ideation. In addition, the source text describes enslavement and enslaved persons, using outdated terms that are only replicated in this guide in quotes from the source material.

Plot Summary

The prologue and interludes interspersed through The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King reveal the backstory of Raihn Ashraj, the love interest of Oraya, the protagonist of the first novel in the series. Three centuries ago, when he was still human, Raihn shipwrecked on the House of Night coast. Suffering from fatal injuries, he begged the Nightborn King, Neculai Vasarus, for his life and was Turned into a Rishan vampire. For the next 70 years, Raihn is enslaved to Neculai and tortured by him and his Rishan nobles. Raihn participates in the first Kejari, a once-in-a-century competition in which the winner receives a wish from the vampire goddess, Nyaxia. He betrays Neculai by conspiring with a Hiaj contestant named Vincent who wins the competition and uses his prize to usurp the throne and murder Neculai and his wife, Nessanyn. During the ensuing chaos, Raihn escapes, but he inherits the Heir Mark after Neculai’s death, indicating that Raihn is a potential heir to the Nightborn throne.

Set in the House of Night capital, Sivrinaj, The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King takes place a few weeks after the Kejari competition in which Raihn revealed his Heir Mark to the public and used his prize wish to kill the former Nightborn King Vincent and usurp the Nightborn throne. After his coup, Raihn struggles to gain support from the Rishan nobility, who still view him as Turned and enslaved. He relies on aid from his advisors, Cairis and Ketura; his Head of War, Vale; and his tentative ally, Septimus, the Prince of the House of Blood whose soldiers are imperative to keeping the rebelling Hiaj clan in line. Oraya—who is the protagonist of the series, Vincent’s daughter, and Raihn’s lover—grieves her father despite the ugly truths that have come to light: She is not Vincent’s adopted human daughter, as he had claimed, but his half-human half-vampire biological daughter. A Hiaj Heir Mark appears on her chest the night Vincent dies. Oraya struggles to reconcile her love for Raihn with his egregious betrayal of her and Vincent.

After a tense meeting with Raihn and the nobility, Oraya overhears Septimus speaking with his guards about an upcoming attack on Misrada in one fortnight. Oraya escapes her locked chambers and searches Vincent’s secret wing. She finds a glass bowl that allows her to communicate long-distance with Vincent’s Head of War, Jesmine, after providing it with a drop of her blood. Oraya uses the bowl to instruct Jesmine to attack the Sivrinaj Armory while Raihn’s forces are busy attacking the Hiaj resistance in Misrada.

A day before the planned Misrada attack, Septimus pulls his forces from the mission and orders them to vacate Sivrinaj. Raihn is suspicious of the decision and increases guards around the city armory just as Jesmine’s forces attack. Hearing the distant explosion, Oraya escapes her chambers and races to the armory where she intercepts Raihn. Neither can bring themself to kill the other, and Oraya’s hesitation results in an arrow to the shoulder from one of Raihn’s loyal soldiers. She manages to instruct Jesmine to flee before losing consciousness.

Raihn, Septimus, Cairis, and Vale discover Vincent’s glass bowl in Oraya’s possession; her ability to use it proves her biological tie to Vincent. Septimus requests Oraya’s aid in finding the remains of Alarus, the God of Death, which can grant their wielder great power. Septimus possesses the God of Death’s teeth and believes Vincent has hidden the god’s blood in a place only Oraya can access.

Raihn brings Oraya to his secret apartments in the human districts of Sivrinaj where he offers her Vincent’s sword, the Taker of Hearts. Raihn asks for Oraya’s help in betraying his alliance with Septimus and finding the god blood for themselves. Raihn’s best friend, Mische, returns to the castle after healing from the severe injuries she sustained during the Kejari and is assigned to be Oraya’s bodyguard.

A few weeks later, Raihn’s research on Vincent uncovers his homeland, Lahor, which he believes might be a potential hiding place for the god blood. Raihn and Oraya travel to Lahor to meet with Vincent’s only surviving family member, a distant niece named Evelaena. Evelaena shows Oraya Vincent’s old chambers and shares the story of how he killed his entire family to secure his path to the throne. He was sloppy enough to leave Evelaena alive after stabbing her in the chest. Close to sunrise, Raihn and Oraya scour the city for clues to the god blood’s location. Raihn begins to wonder if Oraya can summon Nightborn wings and pushes her off a tower. Her panic forces her to summon wings to fly. Raihn returns to the castle to avoid the fatal rising sun and Oraya continues to search the city. She finds a set of Hiaj wings spread across the inner wall of a city tower and bleeds on the pulsing heart in its center to reveal a silver crescent moon pendant. Evelaena attempts to steal the pendant, and Oraya is forced to kill her with Vincent’s Taker of Hearts.

Upon their return to Sivrinaj, the Rishan nobles become more resistant to Raihn’s rule. Cairis suggests a celebratory event—a wedding reception for Vale’s marriage to his wife Lilith—to encourage camaraderie. Raihn invites the House of Shadow as well as the House of Night’s most resistant noble, Neculai’s cousin, Simon Vasarus. Raihn hopes the House of Shadow will prove useful in freeing the House of Night from its alliance with Septimus. At the event, Raihn is drugged by Cairis, who has sided with Simon and Septimus. Simon plans to usurp the Nightborn throne after killing Raihn. Oraya wields the Taker of Hearts and slaughters her way to the castle tower where Simon’s guards have hung Raihn by his wings to burn to death in the rising sun.

Oraya frees Raihn and flies to his secret apartment. Raihn gifts Oraya a collection of memorabilia he found in the castle among Vincent’s things, including a letter between her mother, Alana, and Oraya’s aunt, Alya, and an onyx necklace. Oraya and Raihn reconcile at last and strategize how to retrieve the crescent pendant from the castle and rescue Mische. They access the castle through the underground sewers and Oraya discovers Mische locked in her chambers. During their escape, Mische kills the Shadowborn prince after recognizing him as the mystery man who Turned her vampire against her will centuries ago. They reconvene with Raihn, who has freed Vale, Lilith, and Ketura from the dungeons.

After a week of travel, they reach Jesmine’s forces and ally to retake the Nightborn throne from Simon. In their new alliance, both Hiaj and Rishan forces join together with many local humans, and the army attacks Sivrinaj. During the ensuing battle, Raihn and Oraya discover Simon has become abnormally powerful; Septimus has embedded the god teeth and crescent pendant in the flesh on Simon’s chest, allowing him to wield the God of Death’s power. Simon nearly kills both Raihn and Oraya, who barely manage to escape after warning their armies to retreat.

Raihn and Oraya flee to Vartana to speak with Oraya’s aunt, Alya. Alya reveals that Vincent fell in love with Oraya’s mother, a powerful seer he sought out to help him harness the god blood. Eventually, she became pregnant with Oraya, and Vincent, unable to kill her, sent her away. She lived in Salinae with Oraya and a man named Alcolm until Vincent returned to demolish the region, murder her, and seize Oraya. Alya gifts Oraya an onyx bracelet to match the onyx ring and necklace she already wears. Now complete, her mother’s jewelry set forms a map to the god blood.

Raihn, Oraya, and their armies follow the map. Raihn and the army face Simon and his pursuing forces while Oraya enters the desert temple where she believes Vincent hid the god blood. Oraya relives Vincent’s memories to pass the wards surrounding the god blood. Each memory depicts his greatest mistakes—namely, the many times he prioritized his pursuit of power over all else. Oraya says her final goodbyes to Vincent and receives the god blood.

Oraya emerges from the temple as Simon lands a killing blow to Raihn. Instead of using the blood against Simon, Oraya calls to the goddess Nyaxia and offers the blood in exchange for the Coriatis bond, which will link her soul to Raihn’s and save his life. Nyaxia kills Simon for insulting her lover, Alarus, by wearing his teeth for power, but denies Oraya’s request. Nyaxia created the Hiaj and Rishan lines to perpetually war with each other and to gift Oraya and Raihn the Coriatis bond would ruin Nyaxia’s legacy. Oraya calls out to her mother’s goddess, Acaeja, and requests the bond. Acaeja grants the request but warns that Nyaxia might be insulted and want vengeance in the future.

Oraya and Raihn are linked through the bond and win the battle after Simon’s death. Septimus flees the House of Night. Ketura and Vale capture Cairis, who is sent to Tazrak Prison. Raihn and Oraya peacefully unite the Hiaj, Rishan, and humans and attend a new year’s festival where they receive Nyaxia’s hesitant blessing and are officially crowned the King and Queen. Mische tells Raihn of her plans to leave the House of Night.