Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Read by Kate Rudd
Summary from Goodreads:
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, 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.
Ice Like Fire (Book 2)
Read by Kate Rudd and Nick Podehl
Summary from Goodreads:
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 sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—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 Januari—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 weaves 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.
Frost Like Night (Book 3)
Read by Kate Rudd, Nick Podehl and Eileen Stevens
Summery from Goodreads:
Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.
Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.
Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.
Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.
As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.
I am so glad that I discovered this series when it was almost done. I had the first book on my Audiobook TBR for a really long time, and finally got around to listening to it last spring. I immediately downloaded the second and then had a wait a few very long months for the third one. This is an epic tale and really needs to be read one after the other, to appreciate the scope of it. Also I recommend having a cheat sheet for all of the players, especially the names of the rulers of some of the other kingdoms, it really got hard at the end to keep them all straight in my head. That is one issue with listening to an audiobook, you don’t get to see any maps or other visuals that the book might have. I’m pretty sure that there is a map and a list of the royalty of each kingdom and of course their conduits for their magic in the books, that you can refer too as needed.
I loved the world that was created here, four kingdoms that are forever their season and four others that cycle through the seasons is fascinating. I especially like that the people who live in each season represent their season, Winterians have light complexions with white hair, Summer’s people have red hair. I also liked the magic being wielded only by one person and that it is held by their conduit. The Decay, the evil magic in this world, is also fascinating and devastating. Angra, the Spring King is really nasty and evil in the way that he manipulates magic and people with it. The concept of the magic chasm was good too. I never really thought as magic having an origin in a place before and that it could be destroyed.
The characters in this series are fantastic. They are all unique and well written. I loved Meira especially in the first book, as she finds her place among her friends and the kingdom that she has lost. The love triangle in the first book is great too, Mather is just too adorable and Theron is very complex, and you are not really sure if you should trust him most of the time. There are some great scenes in all of the books that make the characters more real. One in the first book where Meira is looking for either Mather or Theron and she finds them practicing with the soldiers, who are all shirtless and sweaty from sword practice, and she gets a little flustered by all of this, and you think what 17 year old girl wouldn’t be? It is an adorable scene that has stuck with me.
There are a couple of minor things that I didn’t like about the story, especially in the third book. Meira’s almost sudden ability to control her magic, with just a couple of lessons from the secret Paisley order. I also didn’t like the ending very much, it was a little too predictable and improbable even given the rules of this world.
All in all a very enjoyable series and a well done audiobook. All of the narrators do a fabulous job, although Kate and Eileen’s voices are a little too similar and at times hard to tell apart.
Here is a video by Epic Reads that explains the world of Primoria better than I ever could.