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.
Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara RaaschPublished October 14th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed on May 4, 2015
This review can also be founds on Goodreads.
Trying to catch up on my reviews...
Snow Like Ashes: How are you?
Cee: Good. Until I woke up this morning and picked you from my bookshelf.
Snow Like Ashes: Why is that? Was I a disappointing read?
Cee: Not exactly. But I do want to burn you and turn your pages into ashes.
Snow Like Ashes: Such violent threats! What did I do to deserve this cruelty?
Cee: I don’t know how to feel about you . . . And now I’m talking to you like you’re a living person.
Snow Like Ashes: Pray tell.
Cee: Okay, I’ll do my best to give you a moment of clarity into my emotions and thoughts. Let’s start from the beginning. First, you info-dumped on me like crazy. Second, you made me feel like an idiot. In your world, there are different set of kingdoms. There are the Rhythm Kingdoms and the Spring Kingdoms. It wasn’t until chapter 3 when I realized the capitals of the Season Kingdoms are named after a particular month in each of those seasons. (And I studied the map like five times too.) *major facepalm* Juli (July for Summer), Oktuber (October for Autumn), Jannuari (January for Winter), Abril (April for Spring). *another facepalm* Somebody, throw a fucking book at my face. I must be sleep-deprived.
Snow Like Ashes: I volunteer! Choose—
Cee: Not you! You lost that right. Now where was I? In your world, a person’s identity can be recognized by their kingdom, depending on skin and hair color. Winterians possess pale skin and white hair. Autumnians’ skin is the color of the autumn leaves and their hair reflect the black night sky. Sprignians? Summerians? You get the point. One thing I really like is that Spring— in all its beauty— is the ugliest and darkest kingdom of them. Its excess loveliness in its people and land is nothing compared to the enemies’ ambitions against Winterians and pretty much the entire world.
Snow Like Ashes: So do I get a cookie?
Cee: Yes. Here.
Snow Like Ashes: Thanks. *wipes away crumbs* Onto the characters! Tell me how you feel about my protagonist.
Cee: When you introduced me to Meira, we didn’t hit it off. I understood her determination and desperation to prove herself to Sir and her kingdom and I love that she’s confident and bold, but she rubs off as reckless, naïve, and too cocky for her own good. Despite the fact that she is devoted, her desire to feel important and useful is selfish when it puts her group in jeopardy as well as herself. The things she says and wants to do— thank god Sir is there to put her in her place— make me want to shake some sense into her. She should know better. Just because she successfully completes one mission with some skills and dumb luck doesn’t mean that she’s invincible. In the beginning, this girl cares nothing about the importance of “fight” and “flight” when the enemies tracked them to their campground.
“No,” I growl at Sir. No, can’t just leave. We have to stay, we have to plan something better than running. “I can’t let them—”
Would I follow Meria to war?
Would I follow Sir to war?
Hell to the yes.
If Meria wasn’t the main character, I would have bet her arrogance eventually gets her killed. Who knows? Maybe she’ll die at the end of the series, which main characters rarely do, but you never know. I kind of hopes she does since I doubt I will ever have an emotional connection to her so I wouldn't care if she dies or not.
I just want someone to die. I need main character deaths.
Snow Like Ashes: O . . . kay. What else?
Cee: From here on out, Meira and I spent most of her journey glaring at each other. She is a child and I will continue treating her like one until she can behave like an adult.
Snow Like Ashes: Does she ever grow on you?
Cee: Yes. How and when, you wonder? That’s a secret I can’t tell. Spoilers, bro. I will, however, say that I will follow her as long as she does what’s best for her people. I really don't give a fuck about her love life.
Snow Like Ashes: Oh, yes, I see. Then how do you feel about the possibility of a love triangle in the future between Prince Theron and King Mather?
Cee: *resists an eye roll* *resists an impish smile* I would totally dig the love triangle. And the deeper I dig, the harder it’ll be to claw myself out when reality collapses around these characters. A love triangle is an emotional disaster. It is bound to break or do the breaking.
Snow Like Ashes: That’s . . . comforting.
Cee: I thought so too. I like Mather and Theron. They have their strengths, similarities, and differences, and I respect them both (for now). Though I immensely like Theron more. I wouldn’t care if Theron isn’t a love interest or doesn’t end up with Meira because he’s a terrific character on his own. I feel like most authors these days use “romance” to make secondary characters appear more appealing, but not with Theron. He will be a great king someday. He’s selfless, strong, surprising— and simply a wonderful person. However, I do feel like his determination to be a powerful leader may lead to his downfall if he’s not too careful.
Then there is Theron’s speech: “I never wanted to be a king. I wanted to sit in my library and write until the sun fell from the sky. But you— this— the Winterians, your entire kingdom, gone in a heartbeat— it’s made me realize how I would feel if Cordell ever fell like that, if I ever lost something so much a part of me. I want to be somebody worthy of my kingdom.”
I really, really, really love the growth in both Theron and Meira. I think it’s beautiful and touching.
And that ending was worth my life <33333 I want to join the Winterians’ flank. I will die for you guys.
And I like Sir. I respect him.
Snow Like Ashes: I’m touched you have their support. Now why only four stars? Why not five? Or three?
Cee: It took a lot of strength for me to resist your pretty cover. The cover alone is worth five stars. But I tried not to be swayed by it when your contents are only what mattered. Contents-wise, you are a much better fantasy novel than the crappy ones I read in the past year. You don’t deserve to be rated three stars. For one, I love your plot and you play by that plot. It’s not misleading and deceiving. Two, the character development and pace is good. Three, Meira doesn’t spend her whole time in the palace playing dressed up. If she did, I would have burned you right here and now. Four, like I said before, you’re a good read and the fact that you’re a debut novel is even more impressive.
Honestly, if I was to rate you based entirely on my enjoyment, you would be a 2.5 star at the very least. I blame my book slump mood because I believe it jeopardized my enjoyment. However, I know a good book when I read one. I will have to give you a reread some other time in the future when my mood is up for it. You and I didn't have that spark and maybe we'll hit it off another time.
Snow Like Ashes: Understandable. Would you be reading book 2 Ice Like Fire?
Cee: Yes! Until next time!
Snow like Ashes calls for a soundtrack. Ashes Like Snow. This was a song written for 9/11. Not only is the song title perfect for the book, I think the song matches because of the attack and invasion of Winter. I’m not trying to be insensitive by drawing similarities between fantasy and reality because I can’t even begin to imagine the horror. Do check out the lyrics music video. It’s absolutely beautiful.