Ice Like Fire is the second book in the Snow Like Ashes trilogy. This review contains some spoilers for Snow Like Ashes.
ICE LIKE FIRE 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 is hopeful and excited – with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira knows that 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 Jannuari – 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 is woven 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.
Ice Like Fire was a book that I’ve been highly anticipating since I read Snow Like Ashes a couple months ago. In fact, I was so excited about it and disappointed that I couldn’t get my hands on an ARC that Aentee @ Read at Midnight sent me hers to read. And then of course, my pre-ordered copy came when I was halfway through the book…
I was a little bit let down by this sequel. It was quite slow and despite being 480 pages, not much actually happens in this book to further the plot. I found myself quite confused at times by what was happening, why it was happening or how it happened. I just found it to be kind of repetitive, without actually answering any questions. That was my tl;dr – now let me explain.
After reading Snow Like Ashes, I was so excited about the sequel because I could see a clear direction that the series could take. At the end of Snow Like Ashes, we’re just starting to be introduced to the magic system and I expected that to be developed and explored further in Ice Like Fire. Unfortunately, we don’t really learn anything new about the magic system and how it works. I expected Meira to learn how to control her magic and strengthen her powers but none of that happened in this book. We’re learning about the magic system as Meira is discovering it for herself, so I was quite confused at times by how everything fit together. So, in summary, I found the magic system and the plot, in that regard, to be quite stagnant.
One of the aspects that I liked most about the first book was the world building and how intricate and interesting the world was. I thought that the world was the most interesting aspect of Ice Like Fire too. In this book, we travel across Primoria into 3 different kingdoms: Summer, Yakim and Ventralli. I enjoyed being able to learn more about each of these kingdoms and their defining features.
But at the same time, I felt like descriptions about the kingdoms was all that we got. There was hardly any plot development – nothing happens while we’re in these different kingdoms. The time that we spend inside these kingdoms is spent either greeting the rulers of the kingdom, or searching for clues about magic (and these clues are found far too easily). Also, while I liked Summer and Ventralli, I didn’t find Yakim to be that special at all. Yakim is known as the kingdom of knowledge and innovation, but their ‘forward-thinking’ inventions were just things that we see everyday in modern times (e.g. lifts). I wasn’t too impressed by that kingdom.
There’s a strong focus on politics in this sequel. In this world, there is a divide between the kingdoms, but also a divide between the Rhythm kingdoms and the Season kingdoms. However, there are alliances between Seasons and Rhythms that are being formed and I had a little bit of a hard time following the motivations behind these alliances and what they mean for the rest of the world. I thought the political aspects of the book were really interesting, but I felt confused at times and found myself speculating more than I probably should have.
What I probably had the biggest problem with in this book was the characters. There were some instances in Snow Like Ashes (especially at the beginning) when I thought that Meira was too headstrong. But I eventually ended up really appreciating her passion and her determinedness. In Ice Like Fire, Meira is just a shadow of who she used to be. She spends most of the book battling between being herself and being the Queen of Winter, who doesn’t act rashly and thinks about the wellbeing of all her people. I thought her character was pretty flat for most of the book and only comes to life at the end. I hope to see her continue to be a badass in the final book, because Queen Meira just doesn’t do it for me.
My favourite character in Snow Like Ashes was Theron (who also became one of my favourite characters of all time). Sadly, he had a complete change of character in this book. I felt uncomfortable every time he was mentioned and I felt like there was none of the Theron I knew and loved in this new Theron at all. I became very suspicious of him and his actions, and Meira’s distrust of him also made me not trust him either. With the unpleasant decline of Theron’s character, comes the resurgence of Mather and the revival of a potential love triangle again. Although I did like Mather in this book, I didn’t like that there were chapters written from his perspective. These chapters were few and far between and I didn’t think it was necessary to see from his perspective or to know his thoughts and doubts. I also thought it was odd that his chapters were written from third person, while Meira’s were in first person narration.
I’m honestly a little bit torn about this sequel. There were lots of things that I did like about it. It filled me with a great sense of excitement and the ending was intense and epic, and everything that I wanted the whole book to be. But as great as the last 50 pages were, the rest of the book was slow and almost without plot. I found a lot of it to be confusing and there was a lot of repetitive introspection and political plotting (which made it doubly confusing sometimes). I liked the world and the setting of the book but I wish the magic system had been developed and explained a little bit more. There’s still a lot more that can be explored, so I’m hoping the final book will blow my mind.