I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 14th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
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.
Ahh, the book with the too-pretty cover. And it is pretty. Pretty pretty. I find it very hard to look past books with covers like that. But, okay, I need to review more than that. Snow Like Ashes is an entertaining start to what will likely be a fantastic fantasy series. Though I have some reservations, I liked it quite a bit.
Snow Like Ashes takes place in Primoria, a fantasy world with 8 different kingdoms, governed by magic. Meira, our main character, is one of the last free citizens of Winter, a kingdom that was taken over by Spring 16 years ago. Together with other free Winterians, including the heir to the throne, she tries to get their magic back and free their people – eventually. The book reminded me a lot of Throne of Glass, actually, though it is unique enough to be entertaining. It just has a lot of the same elements: a fighting, fierce main character, a lost kingdom, enslaved citizens that will build to a rebellion, magic, a love triangle, and, of course, View Spoiler »a secret Queen « Hide Spoiler. These are basically things that I will always appreciate in a fantasy, but because Throne of Glass is so dear to my heart, Snow Like Ashes more or less feels like the less fun, less impressive little sister.
First on that count would be the characters. I liked them, but didn’t love them. I appreciated what a fighter Meira was. Despite not really knowing or having experienced life in Winter herself, she wants to do whatever she can to win the kingdom back. She grows quite a bit over the course of the book as well, but ultimately she lacked the snark that Celaena has, which made her less memorable. The other characters are all right but also didn’t really stand out so much. The love interests, in particular, do not exhibit really strong personalities. Though, I suppose, I prefer Theron for now, if only because Mather seemed too much of a given right at the start of the book, and Theron had some subtle character development that made him more endearing.
I think my biggest hang up for this book is that in a lot of ways it was too easy, too basic. I figured out the twist about Meira within the first 10% of the book, pretty much. It was so obvious to me, and that made the story much less exciting/intriguing. The magic also seemed too easy for me. It’s governed by conduits – magical objects, View Spoiler »but then if the conduits break, the magic transfers to the heir « Hide Spoiler, and it’s magic that doesn’t really have any rules. It can do anything – whatever the plot requires. I like my magic systems with a bit more structure and rules. I mean, supposedly it made the Season kingdoms self-reliant, but I don’t understand how magic could make crops grow in ground that is frozen solid. That might just be me though.
Also, the politics of this fantasy world just seemed way too simple. First off, the map itself. There’s so much unconquered land that I just can’t even understand. Then, View Spoiler »when Meira is captured the first time, they seriously put her – a prisoner – on her own horse, which happens to be carrying the trinket she was trying to steal? « Hide Spoiler Villain, you’re just plain dumb. Then, in Cordell View Spoiler »the king seriously just thinks it’s a good idea for him to send a message TO ANGRA to tell him that he has the last remaining Winterians??? That because his son is marrying a Winterian PEASANT he gets the rights to all the land? He thinks Angra would just be OKAY with that??? « Hide Spoiler WTF. That is not how you run a country. You’re supposed to be a freaking grown up. These are all things that you can easily gloss over when you’re sucked into the story, but because I knew how it was going to go, it all stood out to me and made me grumbly.
It’s not all bad though – I mean, look at my rating! What it comes down to is the fact that the execution of the story was still very entertaining. I’ll be the first to admit that it was the last 20% or so that really started impressing me, so it did require some effort to get there. But it’s also the potential this now has as a series. The magic, though too easily all-encompassing so far, opens the door to a beautiful story with a frightening villain. And though the two love interests so far have not been too exciting, I see the potential there too. And, to be honest, I want to see Meira kicking more ass. Because I think she definitely could.