Ruby wants to kill the King who ordered the raid on her town, the soldiers who killed her mother. But stuck in prison chained to the floor and constantly being doused in foul, cold water, it's surprising she's even still alive by the time Arcus and the Monks break her out. Strong willed and terrified they wish to harm her, she allows them to heal her before she makes her move to escape them. She learns of the King's horrible actions, the raids on villages like hers that left people scrambling through the forests for shelter and security. Ruby was strong, listening to what she was taught and trying her best to be what they need her to be before her task can have some semblance of success. But she also had a hard time accepting her faults. Not her physical ones; she knew very well that she sucks with a sword. But she couldn't admit to herself that perhaps practising her gift, the one that she knew people hunted, is what caused those soldiers to enter her village in the first place. She was brave, intelligent, and fighting for survival. She was also a teenaged girl who lashed out when people said hurtful things even if she knew they were only saying them to goad her.
Arcus on the other hand was cold, cruel, and rarely said anything personal. Yes he would say harsh things to fuel her anger so she could gain better control over her fire, but it was evident that the cold in him was not just his gift. He thought her weak and stupid, unworthy of his time. He couldn't stand being near her and her fire. And yet not long after he started teasing her, smiling and laughing, showing that he does feel and quite easily too. Countless times we were told that Frostbloods have issues with expressing their emotions. But honestly, Arcus has no issue expressing his emotions after a few days. The change was so abrupt that he didn't seem like the same character, not really anyway. He would lose his temper, and compliment Ruby's singing and tell her it made him feel better. He was a good character, but inconsistent. Cold and unable to feel, to raging ice, to 'I don't know if I can let you go'. And then suddenly he is announcing a very important detail that while not all that shocking, doesn't seem to fir with his character. He would go right into danger? Goad some not so good people? Cause so much chaos and death? He kept flashing through personalities, and each time he came into focus he would be someone new. I'm not sure if his character was merely used for the development of Ruby's, or if the author just wasn't sure how she wanted to portray him.
As for the romance, it was predictable, instant, and not compelling at all. I would have been more invested if they were best friends instead. I will admit however, that I would not be opposed to this romance if there had been more of a build up, a slow breaking of walls and a connection that kept them close, friends and confidants, before ever thinking about how the other tastes or feels.
I did enjoy the training however. I liked how it wasn't simply about physical strength, but mental as well. Ruby had to practice with mind and body, sensing and feeling, knowledge and instinct. It was intriguing and I enjoyed those lessons. I do find however, that instead of building on character bonds (which developed but behind the scenes), the author focused more on the romance and Ruby's revenge. Which was fine, for the latter. I enjoyed how she spoke her mind, said things to the King that no other would, that even when fearful she would not allow him to take away her anger and her words.
The plot was very interesting. At times predictable, but still twists found their way in and I enjoyed the trials and the fights. Much like the Throne of Glass series, where the King wants people to compete in an area of sorts to be his champion and for the public's pleasure, Frostblood had a fair share of trickery and magic. And I love Sarah J. Maas so I was quite entertained by the matches, the struggle Ruby had to go through. Each match took from Ruby, and how she reacted said a lot about her character.
Overall, Frostblood is a great start to the series and I plan to read the sequel!