Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasc
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
The land of Primoria is heavily influenced by magic, and its kingdoms split between the Seasons and the Rhythms. Meira is a survivor of the disastrous fall that overtook Winter sixteen years ago. She wants nothing more than to be a soldier and fight to reclaim it, but her guardian among the rebels has been stubborn about letting her go out on missions. Still, she thinks she has a chance. Until she discovers that reclaiming the magic that fueled her former kingdom is only the beginning of the fight . . .
I picked this up on the basis of strong reviews, but ended up putting it down somewhere in the middle because I couldn’t muster up enough enthusiasm to keep going. (And because I spent an entire day arguing with multiple people about the chakram scene in the tower… but I’ll get to that.) I wasn’t terribly fond of the whole concept of “my kingdom only experiences a single season” for mostly logistical reasons—how does anyone manage to eat, among other things? But the magic is supposed to take care of that . . .
Well, the book started off shaky with me because it’s Meira mooning over Mathan and how handsome he is and how much she likes him and how it will never work out. So I pretty quickly disliked her voice. Then there was the scene in the tower. Meira foolishly alerts the residents to her presence, but manages to make it all the way down to the sewers underneath (including barging in on a room full of soldiers) before anyone down there is aware (nobody was yelling? no warning bells?). Then when she does confront the guards in the basement, she throws her chakram at one of the guards, it hits him, AND IT COMES BACK.
I spent more time than I should have researching this because the physics bothered me so much. It’s a stupid reason to dislike a book but for me it totally, irrevocably destroyed any chance I had to take this seriously. Boomerangs come back, because they have a bent shape that facilitates this (and even then you have some additional factors to consider, like wind). Chakram are round, like frisbees. Try throwing a frisbee so it comes back to you. Better yet, try throwing a frisbee that HITS SOMETHING and then comes back to you (and it isn’t bouncing back, but flying back). Even presuming the blade was sharp enough to have cut through the clothing and flesh with minimal resistance, minimal resistance is not no resistance, and ought to have done something to the rotation, velocity, etc. Chakram when thrown are like like a shuriken when thrown—they fly, they hit, and you go get it back if you want to use it again. The only thing I could come up with is that this chakaram is apparently modeled after the one used by Xena, Warrior Princess, which appears to be a magical weapon anyway (and this one is very explicitly said to be nonmagical).
And then you have Meira facing the big bad general that destroyed her entire kingdom, and he not only doesn’t kill her, he sits her on a horse in more or less pristine condition and is stupid enough to put the item she’s been trying to steal within easy grabbing distance. Seriously? You just spent a lot of page space telling me how he basically tortured two people to death and he couldn’t even be bothered to break a bone while in super-Hulk-mode to prevent her from escaping? And even though his king sees the sense in keeping half of the locket on his person to prevent theft, his best general can’t come to the same conclusion? Or at a very minimum, he can’t put the box with a different group of people to escort it to its new home?
The problem is, the reader is supposed to want Meira to win. Certainly Spring’s leadership is painted as these ultimate villains. But it’s extremely difficult to give Meira any credit when what we actually see is a girl who hardly knows what she’s doing outsmarting someone who isn’t making her job very difficult.
I made it until we met the prince, who I will give props to for not being stupid or irritating, even if he does introduce a love triangle. By that point it had long been obvious what the major twist was going to be, and the only real questions left were a) who is Meira going to marry and b) will she find this much-sought door to the underground magic or is this just going to be an above-ground magical conflict.
So…. obviously a lot of people liked this. I am not one of them. But if romances are more your thing and you don’t get bugged by things like that tower fight scene the way I did, by all means go for it. I rate this book Neutral.