ABOUT THE BOOK
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
Lately, I’ve become more and more wary of series starters owing to the fact that many of them have left me feeling underwhelmed. But then I came across Snow Like Ashes, a highly immersive fantasy which left me feeling exhilarated from the get-go. I love winter and here was my chance to read an amazing book about Winterians trying to get their kingdom back. Snow Like Ashes is a well-paced high fantasy with an impossible quest where the main character is a chakram-wielding kickass soldier and the setting is mind-blowing levels of awesome.
Snow Like Ashes begins in the Rania Plains with Meira as one of the eight refugees who managed to escape the wrath King Angra of Spring unleashed on Winter sixteen years ago. He also broke their conduit in half and stole it. Every kingdom has a conduit containing magic to aid themselves and since Winter’s magic was wiped out the moment its conduit broke, everything since then has been done in an effort to get it back from the clutches of Angra. Winter is nothing without its conduit and Mather, who’s to be the king of Winter, just might be useless to Winter unless he marries and bears a female child since theirs is a matriarchal kingdom. Girl power, yo.
The setting of Snow Like Ashes is elaborate which is why the pretty map comes in handy. The four Season kingdoms of Primoria perpetually cycle through their own seasons. Whereas, the four Rhythm kingdoms cycle through each of the the four seasons throughout the year. Moreover, wherever the people originate from affects their appearance, for instance, Winterians have pale skin, white hair and blue eyes. All of this calls for an engaging world-building and Raasch delivers. I quite enjoyed how the culture of each kingdom varies and how they deal with their differences, petty or otherwise.
Meira is fabulous. Grown up as an orphan who was saved by Sir, general William of Winter, during their getaway in the wake of Winter’s plight, she’s never even step foot in her kingdom. Yet the need to save it before Angra manages to wipe off the map of Primoria runs deep in her bones. Her relationships with the secondary characters are complex and well-developed, especially with Sir who’s always a criticism away which hardly ever fazes her. Hello, new favorite female character.
Mather is a brooding but sensible and brave character which makes sense as he does have a lot of responsibility, being a king and all. However, it’s hard for anyone to actually know his thoughts as he’s a master of the perpetual blank facial expression. Theron, on the other hand, is the charming, misunderstood and artistic character who Meira quickly bonds with. Honestly, I can’t choose between these two!
Snow Like Ashes is everything a good fantasy should have. The villain who doesn’t sound like a villain, but will make you shudder anyway because he’s oh-so-harsh and has absolutely no remorse whatsoever. There are moments which overwhelm you, moments which make you laugh and moments that just plainly make you gape in wonder. Snow Like Ashes is an exceptional start to a trilogy that every young adult fantasy lover would appreciate and adore for years to come.
‘Sometimes placing our belief in something bigger than ourselves helps us to get to a point where we can be enough on our own, magic or no magic.’
‘And snow is everywhere, always, so much that the grass beneath it is white from lack of sun. An entire kingdom wrapped in an orb of eternal winter.’