I received a copy from Netgalley.
This is one of those delightful fantasy series that the plot twists are actually pretty ridiculous and kind of laughable, but it’s just SO GOOD you can overlook how silly it really is because it’s so exceptionally well written and the characters are excellent. Definitely one of my favourite fantasy series of this year.
Review contains spoilers for the first book.
Picking up shortly after where the first book ended, Arcus is now King of the Frostbloods and Ruby is now a Lady living in his court. She still has the hideous Minax monster hiding in her mind and is on a quest to figure out how to destroy it. Her friend from the first book, Lady Marella is helping her with court etiquette. Despite the fact that the Frostblood curse and throne is gone, and the evil king Rasmus along with it, not all the nobles are over joyed with the changes Arcus wants to implement, giving the regular people more fair trade terms for farmers and such. And treat the Firebloods better. Ruby is still met with scorn and suspicion. But she handles it a lot better.
She’s definitely got a spark and attitude and a delightful snarky manor about her, given everything Ruby went through in the first book, she’s an incredibly strong and well-adjusted character and is definitely (in this reader’s opinion) entitled to her moments of moaning and temper. She’s smart enough to know and understand that everything isn’t going to go smoothly.
During a fancy ball, after an assassination attempt Ruby makes the acquaintance of a strange but handsome boy Kai, who has an interesting offer for her. He’s a Fireblood like her and can take her to the Fireblood island to meet with the Fireblood Queen. One of the new ideas Arcus is after is a peace treaty between the Fireblood lands and the Frostblood lands. The Queen didn’t respond to his invitations to the ball and talks. Ruby figures if she takes Kai up on his offer then she can be the emissary for peace talks. And she’s also learned that the book she needs to destroy the Minax in the library at the Fireblood palace. So another reason to go.
Of course there is naturally some suspicion there. Wouldn’t be that simple. (And of course if everything went according to the plan there wouldn’t be much of a book.) There’s a lot of arguing between Ruby and Arcus on this point which makes a lot of sense if you think about it. There’s not a lot of information on who Kai is, or if he’s really who he SAYS he is. Or what he’s really doing there. Is she just going to blindly trust him and believe what he says? You can understand Arcus’s reasons against it.
At the same time Ruby has the chance to learn more about her own people and her own powers, she’ll be with others the same as herself – Firebloods. You can understand as well why Ruby wants to see the Fireblood lands. It’s a well reasoned argument with good points from both sides, made more frustrating by the deep attraction and the love that the two have for each other. And it’s almost painful to read about for the two of them clearly care deeply for each other but both are damned stubborn.
So Ruby heads off for the Firebloods lands across the sea. Where she’s met with some disturbing home truths about how the Fireblood Queen really is. Kai of course has kept his own secrets and reasons for bringing Ruby to the island. She’s pissed, naturally, but that doesn’t stop the fantastic bantery flirting between the two of them. Leading to internal conflict inside Ruby because she still has strong feelings for Arcus. <
Ruby has to take trails to become a Master before she can get access to the information she needs. And nothing goes according to plan. As the training increases and the tests she has to pass become more and more difficult, she’s hit bit a number of startling revelations about who she really is and who her own deceased mother was.
The twists are a bit silly to be perfectly honest, but like I said earlier, this is such a brilliantly written book, the daftness of the plot which can be eye rolling at times, doesn’t particularly matter because it’s so much fun to read. Left at a cliffhanger (of course) for the final instalment. Which I am really looking forward to.
This is a fantastic series I can’t recommend enough. I’ve already pre ordered the last book.