Title: The Frozen Crown
Author: Greta Kelly
Pub. Date: January 12, 2021
Pub: Harper Voyager
Genre: High Fantasy
A princess with a powerful and dangerous secret must find a way to save her country from ruthless invaders in this exciting debut fantasy, the first novel in a thrilling duology packed with heroism, treachery, magic, and war.
Askia became heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh because of her devotion to her people. But her realm is facing a threat she cannot defeat by sheer will alone. The mad emperor of the Roven Empire has unleashed a horde of invading soldiers to enslave her lands. For months, her warriors have waged a valiant, stealth battle, yet they cannot stop the enemy’s advancement. Running out of time, she sets sail for sun-drenched Vishir, the neighboring land to the south, to seek help from its ruler, Emperor Armaan.
A young woman raised in army camps, Askia is ill-equipped to navigate Vishir’s labyrinthine political games. Her every move sinks her deeper into court intrigues which bewilder and repel her, leaving her vulnerable not only to enemies gathering at Vishir’s gates, but to those behind the palace walls.
And in this glittering court, where secrets are worth more than gold, Askia fears that one false step will expose her true nature. For Askia is a witch gifted with magical abilities—knowledge that could destroy not only her life but her people. As her adversaries draw closer, Askia is forced to make an impossible choice—and no matter what she decides, it may not be enough to prevent Seravesh’s fall.
I’m feeling rant-y, so I’m going to keep this as spoiler free as possible. The second part of this review will definitely be the rage-y part.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for providing a free copy to review. Overall, this was a pretty decent and engaging read. Reminded me of The City of Brass in political maneuvering, Tower of Dawn in court intrigue and had the engagement of There Will Come A Darkness. It’s a little heavy on the court politics, but otherwise an enjoyable read. The pacing was steady, kept you interested and turning the page – I finished this over the course of a few days, but really in a handful of hours. The world is vibrant and vivid. I had no trouble picturing it. The only thing I had trouble comprehending was the ages of the characters. I don’t remember if it’s specified, but I have no idea how old Askia is, Illya is apparently 10 years older than Askia, Iskander is either the same age or slightly older than Askia, Armaan is I have no idea how much older…and maybe I just missed it in the book, but it genuinely bothered me that I couldn’t figure out the age differences. I figured Askia is at least 18, maybe 20.
I don’t even know where to begin.
I’m honestly mad.
I hated the ending to this book. Like, actually hated everything that happened. Up until the ending, I was thoroughly enjoying myself and really into everything that was going on. I was a little disappointed that Askia seemed to lose herself – her identity – but having found it again (legit the only bright spot in the ending) was ultimately refreshing. But everything else that happened?
I hated the relationship between her and Armaan. What the hell was the age difference supposed to be? He’s old enough to have like, grown adult kids…so, yeah. Not about it. Didn’t matter that as far as Emperors go, he’s really not terrible and quite likeable, I just hated them together. It made no sense.
Iskander is a grown man, but really a child who has this idealized vision of the way the world works. I liked him up until his petulance ruined him. So, there’s that.
Enver can go kick rocks. Talk about a fucking useless tool. Dude thinks he has power and influence because Daddy does, and little does he realize…I fucking hated him.
Illya was the shining light and I love him, and I’m really pissed he didn’t tell her not to. Really fucking pissed. Like, this man…He’s wonderful. I will say that their connection felt a little out of the blue – like, from the get go, it feels like I was missing a lot of backstory, and so to have him and Askia to have this clear attraction – I just wish they’d acted on it at least once.
Armaan – like I said, wasn’t terrible as far as Emperor’s go, but his attraction to Askia felt a little weird, since he knew her as a young girl, and the whole *lite spice* scene on the roof was so fucking awkward.
Ozura was a bitch in the sense that she knew what she wanted and how to get it. She was a master manipulator and while she annoyed me and worked tirelessly to pigeonhole Askia, I have to respect her.
As for Askia. I loved her from the moment she stepped on to the page. She kind of felt like a Viking Shield Maiden, Warrior Queen and I was totally on board for it. She knew what she wanted, the steps she needed to take to get it and she stood her ground. Somewhere she lost herself, and I don’t know if it was on purpose or just lacking writing, but Askia all through the middle of this book was boring. She was too wrapped up in the court politics, willing to sacrifice who and what she is to save her people – which would be admirable, but she was like half the character she was when she started the book. Which was ultimately disappointing. I would’ve liked to see her brook no arguments and come out victorious without giving up what makes her who she is. I’m kind of tired of the “the only way for a woman to get an army is through marriage” even if that’s how it’s been historically. I don’t know if this is based on anything, but it’s fantasy, and therefore, make up your own rules.
I’m probably being really harsh, but I’m still so angry at how the ending played out.
Askia finds herself again at the end, but it’s basically too late. Shit’s been signed, people have died, and I really hate the outcome. And then there’s the actual ending – like, the last page and fuck it if I don’t need to know what happens next. I’m infuriated with events at the end of the book, and then that goes and happens and now you know full well that I’ll be sitting here waiting to find out what the fuck happens next. Dammit, I didn’t want to be anxious for the next one. I figured that since I was raging about the ending, I wouldn’t be interested in reading the next one. But here I am, my brain oscillating between being mad and running through a million “what if’s” for the next book.
I basically requested this book off NetGalley because I saw that Emily A. Duncan had blurbbed it, and that was enough of a selling point for me. And even with the complaints I have with this book – most are born out of heightened emotion and should probably be taken with a grain of salt. Overall, I did enjoy this book. It’s interesting, the plot is a take back the throne fantasy, but it doesn’t feel like every other YA take back the throne fantasy. It’s a little more involved with the politics and court maneuverings. It reads more like an adult fantasy but isn’t so dense that you can’t follow what happens. If you’re looking for a new high fantasy read, then I’m going to recommend this one. Read it, fall in love with Illya and then rage at the ending with me. And even better – it comes out today! So you can pick up your copy – and you should!