The first of a trilogy, Frostblood by Elly Blake is a fantasy novel steeped in magic and elemental politics. The action sequences remind me of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the broodiness of the characters evoke A Court of Thorns and Roses vibes. Read on for a review! Warning: Minor spoilers ahead!
Note: I receive a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.
The frost king will burn.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Frostblood has all of the makings of a fantasy novel. There’s an ambiguous evil that lurks afoot that takes the shape of a vague darkness, but also reflects the darkness in a person. There is a pantheon of gods whose legacy on earth resulted in great power but also a deadly curse. We have a spunky, special snowflake of a heroine who has a clear sense of what is right and wrong. And of course, we have a broody love interest who is the complete opposite of our Fireblood heroine- a Frostblood warrior.
I wasn’t sure how Frostblood was going to play out, to be honest. I expected all of these tropes to be too simplistic, as though Blake was just checking things off a “fantasy novel” checklist. And for those who want a rich and epic fantasy, this will appear to be exactly that. Frostblood is not your lavishly detailed fantasy, nor is it rich with character development. The conflict in this book is pretty clearly defined and was too obvious for me, personally. It relies a lot on the theme of fire versus frost a LOT. Fire melts frost! Frost cools fire! We get it! But when the two elements appear to be even matches for each other, how do wielders of each reconcile their interactions with each other? The tension between the two elements are played out in various ways. Some were creative and seductive, others felt like we were beating a metaphorically dead horse.
I didn’t love Frostblood, for the reasons above, but I also didn’t hate it. It was a quick read with a premise that was easy to understand. The book is told entirely through the protagonist’s perspective, the Fireblood named Ruby. I was, and still am, pretty apathetic towards her. Though she’s clearly special and for some reason rebel Frostbloods are willing to risk their lives to shelter her, I didn’t get a sense of her inner strength until much, much later in the book.
I was, however, very intrigued by the mysterious Arcus. Based on the book's summary calling him "irresistible", I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by implying that he is Ruby’s romantic interest. He’s pretty swoon-worthy, to be honest. He’s got that scathing, “my heart is ice and I feel nothing,” “don’t get come near me,” thing going for him. There’s some pretty solid build-up between the two, but then the romance kind of collapses in on itself and becomes extremely rushed. I think it could have definitely be drawn out a bit longer for better payoff.
Overall, I thought Frostblood was a decent read. As far as fantasies go, it’s not the best that I’ve read. It has some solid fantasy elements that might appeal more to someone who isn’t as steeped in the genre as I am with the number of books I devour per month.
I rate Frostblood 3/5 stars.
Frostblood is the first in the Frostblood Saga! Book Two of the Frostblood Saga, Fireblood, came out just last month. And Nightblood, the finale to the trilogy, is slated for release in June 2018- plenty of time for you to get started on the series!