SUMMARY (from back): 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.
WHAT I THOUGHT: All I can say is I don’t ever want to be involved in a game of political cat and mouse with Sara Raasch. Wow… I just finished the book and my head is still spinning with all the plots and counter plots and counter-counter plots that are revealed near the end as the pace nears break neck speed. As an author it’s hard to keep everyone’s motivation straight in your head as you write. Raasch masterfully weaves no less than eight plots together simultaneously and manages to keep them coherent and logical. Well, well done.
As with Snow Like Ashes, Sara again writes beautiful prose. Her descriptions of the world of Primoria as well as her creative metaphors, while certainly not humorous and juvenile like his, remind me of the craft of Rick Riordan. And this is one domain of story-telling that engages or turns me away from a book like nothing else. Perhaps I’m overflowing with praise here because I understand how hard it is to write well–it’s an area I’m constantly working on for my own books. Anyone can throw words on a page, but very few can make those words serve art as well as function.
I also have to commend the way the author pursued “the quest” plot which is much of what happens in this book as Meira goes after three keys. So many times that theme gets so old for me after reading so many high fantasy stories that I roll my eyes and grown when I see it pop its head up. But Raasch keeps it as a spine for the novel upon which to hang all the plots and motivations rather than as a central theme where we pick up our walking sticks and strike out on our journey. She makes the destinations so vivid and different that I found myself drawn along without protest.
The theme that emerges in this book is one of Meira now declaring she will try to save not just Winter, but the whole of that world-a rather ambitious goal to be sure. One might call her naive, but this strong, purposeful girl will surely make it happen. That said, I appreciate how the author helps Meira learn and grow through all she faces in this book. She begins to have her naive view of people and the world stripped from her, replaced by experience and new observations of what motivates those around her. This makes her an interesting character who is beginning to anticipate and plan rather than being caught off-guard.
Theron wants everyone to have equal power which is idealistic at its best and essentially socialism at its worst. Meira, on the other hand, seeks the end of magic so everyone can begin at the same place with all their strengths and weaknesses and make a world that is “honest” and “authentic,” that will stand the test of time. At the moment this may be a naive goal as power will always exist no matter the situation.
For the first time we also see the story from Mather’s point of view which allows the plot to develop re: what Winter is experiencing at the hands of its “savior” Cerellian. We see him develop as he stops sulking about not being king to accepting his role as not-king and mobilizing a small band of troops to fight. SPOILER: I loved the exchange between him and Allyson, his mother, just before she is killed. That discussion after her death certainly spurs him on to aide Meira as he runs toward Ventralia and into danger to protect his love and Queen.
The character of Ceridwen, Summer’s princess, new to this book is an awesome character in her own right. She gives Meira perspective on the situation with her brother, the king of Summer, and allies with Meira in her fight. I loved this brash girl who stands up for what she believes. I’m looking forward to her role in the next book for I’m sure she won’t disappoint.
I can’t wait to see where Raasch takes us in the third book of the series. I give this 5 stars!
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