Author: Sara Raasch.
Published: October 14th 2014 by Balzer + Bray.
Sort: Snow like ashes #1.
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since. Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
There are several countries, like the four named after seasons, because that’s the only weather they have. Each of these countries have their own kind of power provided by the Queen. One day, Spring attacked Winter and wiped away the nation. The citizens are enslaved and their magic is stolen. A group of survivors managed to escape, consisting of the future king Mather and his friend Meira - who is training to become a warrior. They will restore Winter’s magic, no matter the prize.
Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? The first thing you will notice about this book is the world-building. We are first thrown into a set-up filled with info-dumps, but gradually you will be immersed by her creativity. I loved all those countries and how everyone got their own traits. For example, Winterians have white hair, pale skin and they handled the mines. I wish the details were handled with more care, but the information was at least interesting.
Meira and Mather, the two important characters of the story, left me confused. Did I like them? I guess I did.. but I didn’t care about either of them and I missed a (realistic) character development. Mather pretty much stays the same. He whines a little about how useless he is for his country and he didn’t strike me as the leader-type. His character is bland and I don’t like how he treated Meira. You would think you would trust your best friend with important information about her life.
Meira changes, but in an unbelievable way. In the beginning it’s clear that she’s not good at close-combat. At the end of the book, without further training, she suddenly turns into a ninja who battles herself a way through a group of soldiers. I wish her character was more consistent. She wasn’t a bad character, but I will forget about her in a couple of days. The only one I really liked was Theron, who immediately charmed me.
The BIG twist was something you can see coming when you start the book. After a couple of pages I was 99% I knew what was going to happen; and I was right. I think this book will be more impressive if you don’t guess the twist, but it’s staring at you.
I wasn’t impressed by it either. The book follows some of the basic storylines we see in fantasy and I expected more from it. If the author had put the same amount of work in the plot as she did with the world-building, it would have been mind-blowing. Now, I was underwhelmed. There is the traditional villain, an end battle and an heroin who finds out information that changes her life.
Still.. I can’t say I highly disliked it, mainly because of the quick writing-style, the world-building and Theron. I have hope for the sequel.