Fantasy Reviews #5: Snow Like Ashes & Falling Kingdoms

July 10, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Fantasy Reviews #5: Snow Like Ashes & Falling KingdomsSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Published by HarperCollins Australia on February 1st, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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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.
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, and serving her kingdom 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.

Snow Like Ashes started out on rough footing for me. It took me a while to warm to Meira, due to her immaturity and rash decision-making. There was also the love triangle which it launches into straight away, with Meira having unrequited feelings for her best friend and future Winterian King, and then becoming betrothed to the Prince of Correll.

I quickly resigned myself to the fact that this was going to be another love triangle, romance laden book, but I’m glad I kept reading, because it really takes off in the latter half. The world is fascinating, with different countries based on never-ending seasons and rhythms, and their access to magic through conduits. It was filled with twists and turns (although some of it predictable), political power play and war. Each kingdom is developed well, with it’s different inhabitants, weathers, rulers and backgrounds.

“There will always be a they in your new life, Meira. They make decisions, they mold your future. The trick is to find a way to still be you.”

Meira was a character I couldn’t connect to, however. I found her inner monologue distracting against the backdrop of a unique and fascinating world. Born and bred a warrior, she frowns upon typical girly pastimes, like sewing and fashions. She doesn’t want to be a queen that sits back and lets the men do all the work. At first, I took issue with these thoughts, because who says you can’t enjoy your fashion while still being a strong female heroine? But as I read on, I realised that Meira is still in the stages of figuring out what she wants. What she wants for the kingdom, her feelings for her best friend, her place in the world.

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And that’s what endears Meira to us, because who actually does know what they want out of life, whether you’re an orphaned soldier or a reader of the story? Much of her innermost thoughts and feelings are based around working out what she wants, wondering why she’s not being treated as an equal by the male heirs in her life and by Sir, the only father she’s ever known. I began to realise how stubborn she actually was, and how much she cares about her kingdom and the people. Meira actually undergoes a lot of character development throughout the book, and experiencing her journey and watching her grow was a big part of Snow Like Ashes. While I can’t say I really warmed to her, I could see where she was coming from, and that I could live with.

“Congratulations everyone. You’ve finally broken Meira, the crazy, orphaned soldier-girl. She’s snapped, all thanks to the mention of floral arrangements.”

The romance is also something that I struggled with, with limited development on both fronts. We accept that Mather and Meira have a history, after growing up and training together and becoming best friends. But when Meira meets Theron, the Prince of Cordelli, they seem to hit it off straight away (read: insta-love), despite the influence of the shifty King Noam. Soon Meira is flitting between the two, going back and forth on who she likes better. I liked the complex relationship with Mather, and I liked the chivalrous Theron, but I wish there was less focus on them.

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Although the pacing in Snow Like Ashes was rather inconsistent, I’m glad it picked up in the latter half of the book after building up an impulsive heroine and her suitors, the magical world of Seasons and it’s inhabitants and the political relationship between Cordell and Winter. I was impressed with the creativity of the world, and will definitely be picking up Ice Like Fire.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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I received an eARC from Balzer + Bray in exchange for an honest review.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes Review: The Fluffy Soap Opera of YA Fantasy 

Fantasy Reviews #5: Snow Like Ashes & Falling KingdomsFalling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Published by Razorbill on March 11, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Treacherous betrayals, secret alliances, unforeseen murders, and forbidden love—
The world of Mytica will hold you captive:
  AURANOS - Privileged Princess Cleo is forced to confront violence for the first time in her life when a shocking murder sets her kingdom on a path to collapse.   LIMEROS - The king’s son, Magnus, must plan each footstep with shrewd, sharp guile if he is to earn his powerful father’s trust, while his sister, Lucia, discovers a terrifying secret about her heritage that will change everything.   PAELSIA - Rebellious Jonas lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.   Witches, if found, are put to death, and Watchers, immortal beings who take the shape of hawks to visit the human world, have been almost entirely forgotten. A vicious power struggle quickly escalates to war, and these four young people collide against each other and the rise of elementia, the magic that can topple kingdoms and crown a ruler in the same day.

Upon opening Falling Kingdoms, you’ll be greeted by a map of the Mytica and a list of the cast of characters, split up into four kingdoms. This implies that you’ll find a deeply constructed and rich fantasy world that is so complex, you need to refer back to these beginning pages.

But in actuality, Falling Kingdoms is as simplistic as a fantasy could be. While it has all the elements of a fantasy world – armies, corruption, Kings, elemental magic and even war – none of it was explored too deeply, with the world hazily described at best. While the book attempts to set out the opulent world of Auranos, contrasted against the poor starving nation of Paelsia, and the frozen kingdom of Limeros, you’ll struggle to truly picture the tensions between the Kingdoms in the story – other than the simplistic view of power and war.

The same treatment is given to the many characters, who were bland and one-dimensional. From Magnus, the dark Prince who’s in love with his sister, to Cleo, the spoiled and privileged princess with a sharp tongue, and Jonas, the boring rebel who wants to kill for vengeance, these characters played their parts perfectly and predictably. There’s also a host of other point of views, some which are seemingly pointless.

Although there are similarities to Game of Thrones, everything is watered down for the YA audience – with hardly any spice, pizazz or satisfactory bloodshed in the book – which I’m conditioned to, being an avid fantasy reader. There are deaths, but I felt absolutely nothing when these occurred, due to the lack of emotional connection to the characters.

“He couldn’t deny that she was lovely… maybe even the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. But the most beautiful girl could still be deceptive and evil.”

That’s not to say Falling Kingdoms wasn’t entertaining – it’s a quick addictive read despite it’s length. Because there isn’t much depth with the world or the characters, it feels like a fluffy soap opera, which is actually kind of refreshing in the fantasy setting. Will Magnus act on his feelings for his sister? Will Cleo end up with her guard? Will Jonas get more interesting? The story delivers on the drama and I couldn’t stop reading.

Magnus’s romantic feelings for his sister were pretty disgusting, and I struggled through his story for the most part. While his deep seated feelings got worse before they got better, thankfully they were one-sided. Not sure how I would have dealt otherwise…

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While Falling Kingdoms isn’t the deepest fantasy out there, with one-dimensional characters, a lack of emotional depth and a weakly constructed world, it was an addictive, fast paced read filled with soap opera-like drama. It’s suitable for readers who are just getting into fantasy, or who are looking for a light read. I can definitely see the potential, and I’ll probably be continuing with the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Jeann-Sig

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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20 responses to “Fantasy Reviews #5: Snow Like Ashes & Falling Kingdoms

  1. Great reviews, Jeann! Snow Like Ashes I agree with. I wasn't so sure about it at first either but I did definitely warm up to it. Ice Like Fire made me so stabby though. It's awful for like, the first 70% of the book, then it picks up, gets awesome, and leaves you needing to read the last book even though you wanted to throw ILF across the room. I feel so conflicted with this series!

    As for Falling Kingdoms, I was thinking maybe it wasn't for me but… the soap opera vibe almost seems like it would be a decent change of pace for me? So maybe I will give it a shot one of these days!
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    • Thanks Shannon, it's amazing just how much it improved towards the end. A shame about Ice Like Fire, I know heaps of people didn't enjoy that one which is such a shame. I can see lots of people said FK gets better as the series goes on.

  2. I definitely agree that Falling Kingdoms felt a little watered down, with the first book probably being my least favorite. That said, I definitely think the series gets better as it goes on! Snow Like Ashes wasn't my favorite fantasy either, like you, I thought it was another predictable fantasy with elements we have seen before. While I also thought it picked up, I never really continued with the series. Great reviews!

    • I'm glad to hear that it gets better Alise! A shame that Snow Like Ashes was kind of disappointing, even though it did get better later on. I heard the next book goes downhill too. Thank you lovely:!

  3. Thank you so much Lisa, you are too lovely! Yeah, I kind of know why, it's one of those books that you could love or hate because of the weird pacing.

  4. keionda

    I have no idea why, but I'm on this big fantasy kick right now. <3 I'm all about the blood shot and the fantasy backgrounds and the new worlds and stuff. IT'S MY THANG RIGHT NOW. 🙂 So, I know what you mean when you say that you need more bloodshed and more of world bundling and all of that . As for the first book, I haven't tied it out yet even thought there's a lot of hype about it, and then the second book, meh, I'm probably not even going to try that one.

    • YAY that's cos fantasy is the best hehe! I'm so glad you're enjoying it more! Yeah, I call this fantasy lite you know?

  5. Lisa @ Lost in Lit

    Your Snow Like Ashes photo is so beautiful!!! I wasn't a fan of it myself, so I can understand your issues with it. I haven't read Falling Kingdoms and I'm honestly not sure that I will, but that cover catches my attention EVERY TIME! 🙂

  6. Sorry you didn't absolutely love either of these Jeann, but I'm glad they were still enjoyable nonetheless. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous reviews! <3

    • Thanks Zoe, they were still lightly entertaining reads which is a good thing 🙂 Thank you lovely! I hope you are going well!

  7. sumlynnnguyen

    Fabulous reviews, Jeann! I haven't read either, but expected Falling Kingdoms to be an intricately crafted fantasy; it's really too bad it's more simplistic. As for not connecting with characters, that can definitely affect my read experience as well. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear that both were disappointing for you. However, I'm also glad you ending up liking them for different reasons ultimately. 🙂
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    • Thank you Summer! I kind of expected it to be like the next ToG but it's such a light fantasy read you know. I did end up liking them, just different from what I expected I guess.

  8. I felt the same way about the beginning of Snow Like Ashes! I really liked the ending though. My problem was I didn't particularly like either love interest. I tried the sequel, but it wasn't doing it for me.

    I've been procrastinating reading Falling Kingdoms, because it seems to be either a love it or hate it book. I appreciate knowing it's a lighter read.

    • Yeah, I thought it was pretty darn average at the start but to my surprise it got better and better. I wasn't a fan of the love interests either, a shame aboue the sequel too. I'm kind of glad I can adjust my expectations for FK now going into the rest of the series.

  9. Bieke (Nelly B.)

    I really liked Snow Like Ashes, but I've heard very mixed things about the sequel so I'm not sure if I want to continue the series. And the reviews for Falling Kingdoms haven't really convinced me it's a must-read either so. :/ Great reviews!
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    • Yeah I was really surprised because of all the hype it was getting, I thought it would be like the next TOG but it's nothing like that. Thank you, I've heard it does get better!