Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 14th 2014
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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.
I basically read Snow Like Ashes in one day. I couldn’t put it down. I was so absorbed in this world that when I DID put it down, it felt like I was being yanked back to reality. I credit Sara Raasch’s epic world-building skills for this! The characters were a bit iffy for me, but the plot was intriguing and I really enjoyed it.
Meira was kind of frustrating. In the beginning, she was incredibly bad-ass – She did what no one else had managed to do for 16 years. But later on in the book, she acted like a toddler having a tantrum. She whined and complained a LOT. She was so focused on the idea of doing something to make her important to Winter, to make her belong and feel needed. Yet when she was presented with something that she could do to help the kingdom, she balked at the idea and the way her life would change. I understand why she was upset, but she was also getting what she wanted. I grudgingly admit that, by the end of the book, she came into her own. The revelation, though, was something I guessed at VERY early on, so I wasn’t surprised, but it was awesome getting that confirmation that I was right.
I both liked and disliked Mather. Weird, I know, but it’s basically the Meira situation all over again. He had moments where he was epic and awesome and he had moments where he tried so hard to be gallant, but came off all moody and tortured – like he was making this big sacrifice. When I finished the book, I really shipped him and Meira, but the more I think about it, the more I’m not sure. His behavior at the end of the book was… I’m not even sure what the word is, honestly. But I didn’t like it.
I REALLY liked Theron. I think he’s the only character that I really liked for the majority of the book, to be honest. He was funny and sarcastic, he stood up to his father and he owned his leadership role. I don’t really ship him and Meira, but I loved their chemistry.
Sir really ticked me off, especially in the beginning. I hated the way he treated Meira and the way he was so cold and distant. His actions made a little more sense once some of the revelations came to light. I was SHOCKED when one thing happened to him, but I’m satisfied with where his story ended. I will say, though, that Sir’s attitude was what first tipped me off to the revelation with Meira.
There were a LOT of secondary and tertiary characters in this book, between Meira’s group and the eight kingdoms, so it’s hard to talk about everyone. I’ll just say this: many of them lacked enough character development/growth to satisfy me, but I’d still love to learn more about them.
Despite how quickly I read this book, the pacing was definitely a little slow. I think that’s mostly because, as I mentioned earlier, Raasch does a LOT of world-building and she has a lot of description and background information mixed in. But I kind of liked that – It really made me feel like I was a part of the story. With eight kingdoms and all the history we were given, there was a lot of information to keep track of, which was a bit difficult at times. And as I mentioned previously, I wish there had been a little more character development to balance the world-building – not that there wasn’t some, but I would have liked to see more.
There were a LOT of parallels with this book and the Throne of Glass series. I think that, more than anything, kept me intrigued. I found myself saying, “Oh, that reminds me of this from ToG!” every few pages. The major parallels were with King Angra and the king of Adarlan, as well as the work camps and Endovier.
Overall, I definitely recommend Snow Like Ashes to fans of high fantasy, especially to fans of the Throne of Glass series. Though the pacing is slow, due to all the world-building (which was actually epic and worth the slow pacing) and the characters needed way more character development/growth, this was still an awesome book with an intriguing plot.