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
I’m honestly not sure how to describe this series? The first word that comes to mind is “fun”, but that’s not really accurate, especially after this book–while Meira’s humor and playfulness still sometimes makes an appearance, it’s far less frequent here, and both this and the first book had scenes that brought tears to my eyes. At the same time, I’m not deeply attached enough for it to be heartbreaking. The writing mostly isn’t exciting, but there are bits that surprise me with how good they are. I have a fairly strong sense of affection for this series, one I’m not sure I can fully explain or understand. I just want to take the characters to my apartment and give them some hot chocolate and hang out with them for a while, you know?
I also enjoyed this book a bit less than I did Snow Like Ashes, and I attribute some of that to the fact that I was reading the book and not listening to the audio. Kate Rudd’s reading of Snow Like Ashes emphasized the humorous aspects of the book more, helped smooth over some of the most awkward passages, and really allowed me to “get” Meira. Or at least, that’s my theory; I don’t exactly have an audio for Ice Like Fire that I can compare the book to. Either way, Ice Like Fire felt a lot slower and longer than Snow Like Ashes.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t still enjoy Ice Like Fire, because I did! Meira and Mather both had some spectacular character moments. At first I was dubious about Mather’s POV sections, and Mather in general, but I ended up quite enjoying them; they provided a nice contrast to Meira’s, and he went through some solid character growth. I liked Meira’s arc as well. I can’t talk too much about Theron without spoiling everything, but there were more than a few tears involved.
My opinions on some characters changed for the worse, as well. William…will not be winning any parenting awards anytime soon, that’s all I’ll say.
We also get to explore the world of Primoria a little more. I think the worldbuilding is…not the greatest part of the series, but it was still fun to see more of the different kingdoms and be introduced to some great new characters. (Hello, Ceridwen!)
I liked Ice Like Fire. It wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be, but it was a solid continuation of the series and I will read book three when it comes out.
In my mini-review of Snow Like Ashes, I wrote that I wasn’t sure whether I liked the worldbuilding or found it overly gimmicky. Having read this book, I’m leaning more towards the ‘gimmicky’ direction. It all just seems so…simple. I don’t like when an entire kingdom can be fully summed up in two or three words. And when names like “Simon” and “Ceridwen” exist in the same world–in the same FAMILY–it makes my eye twitch.
I also don’t like scavenger hunt plots. You know, when most of the book is devoted to characters having to find several Important Magical Items they need to reach a certain goal? We had that here. (We did in the first book too, but that was beautifully subverted at the end.) In addition, the entire plot of the book was based on an event in the beginning that I found far too convenient.
Another thing I don’t like: long dragged out relationship issues based on lack of communication. Which covers, like, 80% of what was going on with Meira and Theron’s relationship throughout the book.
My favorite sections of the book were those that dealt with the band of former refugees that Mather came to join; that was were I generally found the best, most evocative writing. Even though I wish they’d had more individual character development, I like what these characters brought to the story, and to Mather’s development. In particular, I was intrigued by Feige, and I wish we’d seen more of her.
Meira had a pretty good character arc. Like in the first book, she’s balancing between the person she needs to be for Winter and the person she wants to be, only this time she’s walking an even more precarious line, because, you know, she’s a queen. Even though I’ve seen this type of character arc before in several places, it really works here. Responsibility arcs are the best.
I also liked the parts of the book that acknowledged the strength of female characters with a more subtle presence, such as Nessa and Allyson. (The bits that emphasized them were placed really close together, too, for maximum emotions!)
The ending is surprising, to say the least. Surprising and explosive and just a little bit awesome.
If you liked Snow Like Ashes, continue on with this one. I think this trilogy is worth sticking with.