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.
"Even the strongest blizzard starts with a single snowflake."
Snow Like Ashes is told in the first POV by 16-year old Meira who is anything but cowardly or a pushover. Meira is a survivor of the kingdom of Winter having managed to live through Spring's invasion and devastation of her country along with 25 others. Now down to 8 including her best friend Mather, and her mentor Sir, Meira is more than eager and willing to prove herself and be accepted for her own actions while freeing her country men & women from the tyrant holding them as slaves.
Raasch has added some interesting some interesting dynamics to her story. There are EIGHT kingdoms in the land of Primoria, with 8 Kings or Queens. 4 of which are eternal seasons (Fall, Winter, Autumn, Summer), 4 of which are kingdoms that cycle through all seasons. Unfortunately for Meira and her fellow Winter survivors, their magical Conduit was broken in half by King Angra 16 years ago and is utterly useless until it's reunited. They also have a male heir, Mather, which makes things extremely difficult since he's a man.
I ended up loving Meira when all is said and done. She's such a fun, feisty, and courageous young woman who wants to prove herself even though Sir and others have told her it wasn't necessary. At first, she did take some getting used to because readers have no clue who she is, or why she feels it necessary to become a hardened soldier like Sir. Then she gets her own mission and successfully does something nobody else has; returns with a piece of the missing pendant which leads to a feeling of hope.
Meira loves her chakram (think Xena's spinning circular blade of death) and isn't afraid to jump in on the action against her powerful enemies and kick their shiny asses. She is absolutely clueless about magic, but isn't afraid to search for tough questions that may lead her to saving her people. She is forced into an arrangement that puts her at odds with her friends, but because she wants what's best for her kingdom and Mather as its King, she relents.
I now speak of the triangle that Raasch has created that pretty much precluded this from being rated higher. Meira and Mather have been thick as thieves and friends for 16 years. He secretly trains her, she secretly wants more from their relationship. But, he also does something utterly inconsistent that leaves Meira looking towards Prince Theron of Cordell for help. Once again, secrets are something that definitely drives this story. Meira is kept in the dark for much of this story, until she learns the truth with her actions.
Theron is definitely a likable guy who has a terrible father. He sticks up for Meira, he encourages her, and listens when she tells him what she wants out of life. He's just as much in the dark as she is when it comes to their futures. I can't for the life of me disqualify either man without something awful happening to Meira due to the actions of either man. I still do not trust his father or his intentions towards Winter!
There have been those that have compared Snow Like Ashes to the Throne of Glass series, or Games of Thrones. Can we just take the story on the basis of what it is, and how the writer's world building is so wonderfully creative? I think readers need to read the book and make their determination if the comparison is correct, or hyperbole.
Author - Sara Raasch
Title - Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes # 1)
Published by Balzer + Bray
Released: October 14, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Epic Fantasy
Format: E-Book 432 pages