Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis: It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.
Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?
Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?
As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.
Review: This review contains no spoilers for Snow Like Ashes. Review for Snow Like Ashes can be found here.
After the events of Snow Like Ashes, Winter may be saved, but the nightmares continue. They continue in the hearts of those who survived, from the memories of those lost and betrayed, and in the struggle to break the chains of tyranny. Winter has been saved from the evil that ruled it for so long, but it has yet to be freed. Winter is still enslaved due to a great debt owed to Cordell, and while that debt cannot go unpaid, Meira does not want her kingdom to fall into ruins before it can become whole again.
Cordell use the Winterians to search for a chasm of magic, and while this continues, they cannot be truly free. But will finding the chasm really free anyone? Meira fears the power of the chasm and how it could be used to destroy the world. Theron wants to use the chasm to unify the world, and Mather just wants to be free – to be free of a world of oppression and misery – but can any of them find a way to save those they love the most?
I have made it no secret that I adored Snow Like Ashes. My review is a constantly gushing jumble of words that fail to express how much I adored this book. And while I really enjoyed Ice Like Fire, some people may have some issues with it. Don’t get me wrong, I do love this book, and I think that it is an important instalment in this series, but there are a few differences between this book and the previous instalment.
Firstly, this instalment focuses on character development far more than the it’s predecessor. And while I enjoy character development, it does slow down the story somewhat. Meira has gone from Winterian solider to Winterian Queen, and this is an ongoing struggle for her. Meira struggles to reconcile the girl she was fighting for her kingdom to the woman who must now rule it. As desperate as she is to keep true to herself, she feels that she cannot be this person as Queen. There is a constant internal battle going on, and it does take a while to sort out. I will admit, I found myself going from loving her in Snow Like Ashes to disliking her somewhat in Ice Like Fire. She is determined to be the best queen she can be, and in doing so lost some of her sassiness, some of her brilliance and some of her drive to get things done. She basically goes through the thing that nearly every hero falls victim too – being too independent, being too headstrong, keeping secrets and being narrow-minded at times. BUT, in saying all of this, while I did miss the old Meira, I feel that she needed to go through some of this, and it was best to do it now. She needed to learn that she isn’t alone, she isn’t disposable and that she isn’t the only person responsible for everyone’s life. And more importantly, that while Winter may be saved, it now has even more to lose. But, at the heart of it, she is a true warrior, and once she finds a way to combine her former self and her new responsibilities, god help anyone who crosses her!
This book also has multiple POVs, which is something that I actually enjoy. In Ice Like Fire we get to follow Meira via first-person narrative and Mather’s via a third-person narrative. This may turn some people off, but I really enjoyed it. I loved following both Meira and Mather, who were on separate journeys for most of the book – both physically and emotionally. I like the separation of their storyline, and getting a better understanding of what is happening via both their perspectives (and I think this was completely necessary for the latter part of the book, and into the third book).
Ice Like Fire has a large focus on the political side of this world. Which I actually quite enjoy. I love a complex world… and this world is nothing if not complex. The inner-workings, the back-handedness, and ignorance and arrogance of this world is fully exposed. Desires and fears will rule a person’s or kingdom’s actions, which results in alliances, betrayals, shocking revelations, friendships, truths and deaths – and far, far worse.
And while there is not as much action in this instalment, when there is action, WOW is there action!! Sara Raasch has an amazing ability to write an action scene, and manages to pull you into the scene, by both your adrenaline and your heart-strings! The action scenes are amazing, daring and deadly. So while you may miss the amount of action scenes, be ready for awesomeness when they arrive!
Along with self-discovery, a good part of Ice Like Fire takes us on a journey to other kingdoms, where we get to experience more of Raasch’s expert world-building. The world-building expands across the other kingdoms of Primoria, where each kingdom is as different to each other as their leaders are. Here we will meet some new characters who each bring something new to the story, but with each new kingdom, we also uncover more allies, secrets, desperation, enemies, danger, and betrayal.
So while some might find Ice Like Fire a lot slower than the first in this series, I think that the intricacy of the storyline needed to be explored in the way that it has. And for those who prefer a fast-paced, action-packed storyline, never fear – this book hits full throttle towards the end of the book. The whole book leads up to something big – and when it hits, it hits HARD! And it will hit you with all the feels!! And the feels don’t stop there – the Theron vs Mather debate takes some major hits as this story continues…
The ending is superb!!! Filled with action and twists – and a cliff-hanger – OMG! This book will leave your heart equally racing and hurting, it will abandon you on the edge of your seat and begging for more! So while you may miss some of the hard-ass action you expected after reading Snow Like Ashes, be assured, the ending certainly indicates that the finale of this series will be action-packed, filled with danger and courage, and one bad-ass heronine.
Ice Like Fire further explores the web of deception, magic, power, hunger, determination, agendas, strength and danger in this amazing and complex series. But whose hearts and minds will break in Meira’s journey to seek justice. And what will be the sacrifice to save the world?