Published: October 14 2014
Number of pages: 416
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: high fantasy, adventure, romance
Rating: 4/5 owl hoots
Sixteen years ago, the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and enslaved with no monarch and no magic. Now the Winterians hope for freedom as the eight remaining survivors who managed to escape, are waiting for the opportunity to fight back and regain their Kingdom. Meira, an orphaned Winterian raised by Sir, is trained to be a warrior. She is in love with Mather, her best friend and future King and she will do anything to help free their Kingdom again. When they discover the location of an ancient locket that can help restore their power, Meira goes on a mission to retrieve it but it doesn’t go as plan. Soon she is trapped into a world of dark magic and dangerous politics and realizes that her destiny isn’t her own.
I heard a lot of hype around this book when it came out last year and I didn’t want to read it right away, instead I wanted to wait until the hype died down. I heard people recommending this for Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings fans so I was really intrigued, and I am always on a look out for a new high fantasy series too.
After finishing the first book, I could tell that Sara has plenty of potential to turn this into an exciting debut series. I loved this new wonderful world where kingdoms are named after the four seasons and how the characters carry different traits that tell them apart from the other Seasons. There is so much to learn about this new world that Sara tells it in detail but not in a way that is too hard to follow or too convoluted either. I also love reading how friendships evolve into romantic relationships as seen between Meira and Mather: two childhood friends with a secret past but Meira is a warrior in training and Mather is prepping to become the future King of Winter. A female warrior determined to bring honor by bringing back her homeland struggles with her feelings for the future King, but reading about their growing chemistry together only made the romance in the story more enthralling! Honestly I could easily ship these two together: Meira + Mather = Meither.
One of the many things I love about this story is observing Meira’s development as she grows from a trained soldier to a full-blown warrior princess with magic of her own! Meira is so determined and full of confidence and bravery that it’s hard to imagine that she was once a peasant girl grown up to be the Winterian soldier, and constantly proving her worth to General Sir, who seems indifferent to how far she has come in her training. I admire Meria’s heroic ability to save herself and rescue others under the cruel watchful eye of Angra, and I was impressed how she single handedly fought and refused to be influenced by his dark magic. This is truly a coming of age story about Meira deciding her future with Mather and making a decision to either do what is right for herself or for the future of Winter, and after she finds out about her past, I can only wonder if things will ever be the same with her and Mather as she takes on a new role to save Winter.
This story has everything that I was looking for in high fantasy: a new world to explore, magical kingdoms, magical secrets and political betrayals, and a headstrong heroine with a new future who will do anything to restore her homeland. With all the plot twists and turns it was hard to predict what will happen next as Sara keeps us guessing the entire time. After that cliffhanger I can only wait to see what is in store for Meira, Mather, and Angra. So glad I read this and just in time before the sequel Ice Like Fire is released this fall!