Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Category: Young Adult
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.
After a rocky start I finally finished Snow Like Ashes. The paragraph where the protagonist, Meira acted like a silly school girl over her sparring opponent's good looks annoyed me. For a while she pretty much got weak in the knees over any good looking shirtless male which resulted in some eye rolling on my part. Plus there was an unnecessary love triangle that really got annoying at one point with the two guys sparring. Once I got past the nonsense though I began to enjoy the book a lot more.
Eventually Meira grows up and we read less about good looks and love triangles and get to more important things. Meira's kingdom has been taken over, the people enslaved by a neighboring one. The book really takes off when Meira is captured. Her character takes on a more serious, responsible tone, and realizes how selfish she has been while most of her people are suffering and dying in work camps. This is the point where I began to like her. A bit more explanation about the world and the reasons behind the kingdoms being Season and Rhythm would have helped me understand what was going on in the beginning though, as it it not explained much at all.
One thing I really liked in the beginning was that Meira wasn't good at everything. She wasn't very good at hand to hand combat, but excelled in throwing. I liked that Meira's weapon of choice was the chakram, a weapon that hasn't been prominently portrayed in any of the other fantasy books I've read. The chakram in this book seem to be heavily patterned after the ones in the Xena TV show. The one on the cover looks just like it, and while this is a fantasy novel, I kind of wish the chakram had been more realistically portrayed instead of being given the Xena treatment (e.g. returning to the thrower like a boomerang, the handle in the middle; real chakram were not like that). Here's a look at some real ones.
Unfortunately later on in the book Meira seems to suddenly get good at all types of combat, from crossbows in ranged combat, to cross bows in close combat, to knives, to whatever is available. She very unrealistically defeats opponent after opponent later in the book. For me that was the only drawback to the latter part of the book though.
I do feel like this story could have been brought to a conclusion at the end of this book. It would have made a great stand-alone. Instead, of course, we are left with one big thread still hanging so that we have to read another book. In the end I enjoyed this book, but not quite enough to give it 4 stars. I want to know what happens in the next book, but at this time I don't feel compelled to read any further into this series.
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