Featured Review: Beasts Of The Frozen Sun (Jill Criswell)
About This Book:
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust. Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand. When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland—one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun—Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started. As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun …
*Review Contributed By Olivia Farr Staff Reviewer*
BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN features lush world-building, compelling characters, and a captivating plot that make it an engrossing read. Aillira (Lira) is a young woman in a land with little respect/prospects for women. Her father is a younger son of the chieftan and, as such, is a commander of the forces but will likely not become chieftan himself. One girl a generation is gifted with powers through the lineage of the original Aillira, and Lira is this girl.
Lira is a soul-reader, which means that she can see the truth of someone and their memories when she touches their chest. Her powers are sometimes used to determine someone's guilt in a trial, something she is not always comfortable with. She is considering her future options where she can either join the women at the Daughters of Aillira, where women with gifts are trained and live out their lives, or she can get married to a man that would be politically advantageous.
Across the ocean, Reyker is a trained killer working for Draki, the Dragon. Reyker hates him and what he does, but he feels powerless to stop it all. Death seems better, but Reyker does want to live. When he travels to Glasnith and his path collides with Lira's, they begin to find new truths and fight to stay alive. All this in the shadows cast by the gods of Glasnith and of the lands of the Frozen Sun from where Reyker comes.
Lira and Reyker were easily complex and compelling characters that propel the story. The villains were also well-crafted albeit they sparked some gruesome descriptions, making this better suited for older readers (warnings for implied rape, demonic-like possession, character death, battle sequences, torture, and necromancy). The plot takes many twists and turns that keep the reader highly engaged. The world is built well in this book, and I would definitely be interested to learn more from the future books.
I do wish we had gotten further into the powerful women of the book, as they feature as tertiary characters here, popping up every now and again. Most of the characters, aside from Lira, are men, and it would have been nice to more fully explore the female side of things, particularly since many of them wield magical gifts as the Daughters of Aillira. However, it was still a highly engaging story (and those twists at the end were quite a surprise). It does have an open ending to pave the way for the next book, but it didn't feel like too big of a cliffhanger. I would certainly recommend to fans of YA fantasy like SKY IN THE DEEP, FURYBORN, and DANCE OF THIEVES. This is quite an engrossing new story.
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