For those who know me, you’ve probably seen me gushing over Sarah Fine’s The Impostor Queen since before it was even published last year – it was instantly one of my favorite books. To be completely honest, this is only the second Sarah Fine book that I’ve read. I don’t know why – her writing is magical and her characters are simply so well written that I feel like I actually know them in real life.
While reading The Impostor Queen is really helpful to understand some of the things in this book, the good news is that if you haven’t read it, that’s okay, too. You can easily pick things up as they go along. While The Impostor Queen told the story of sixteen year old Elli, the girl who was chosen to be the next Valtia in the kingdom of Kupari, despite the fact that she seems to lack any actual power of ice and fire, this story is told from the viewpoint of Ansa, a member of the Krigere tribe – an enemy of the Kupari.
So like I said, while helpful to pick up the first book prior to this, the events here happen at pretty much the same time as the events in The Impostor Queen are happening, and both books are leading us up to an explosive conclusion in third and final book, which releases next year.
Ansa is kidnapped from her mother when she is just a child, and raised as part of the Krigere tribe. She works hard to be a warrior, alongside her friend and love interest, Thyra, who is the daughter of the Krigere Chieftain. Completely in love with Thyra, she faces her rejection on a daily basis, confused by all the feelings that she has to deal with, alongside fighting with her fellow warriors, and losing them all in a battle against the Valtia of the Kupari in a battle that occurs in the beginning of the book.
When the Chieftain of the tribe is killed, and Thyra gets her turn to stand up and lead the warriors, no one can take her seriously – after all, she is a small girl who doesn’t like to deal with conflict, and instead would much rather take a passive approach to dealing with problems. Ansa offers her loyalty and assistance to Thyra, because despite everything else that is going on, she can’t help but have feelings for her.
“She peels away my armor and pokes what’s underneath. Part of me hates it. And the rest of me doesn’t want it to stop.”
During the battle that takes place in the beginning of the book, Ansa has an encounter with the Valtia, and once touched by her, notices that she has been given a curse – she can start fires and cause ice and wind, even when she isn’t trying. When she starts burning shelters and killing those who offend her on accident, she has to do her best to hide the curse – unlike the Kupari, the Krigere reject magic and feel it is a sign of witchcraft, and they simply won’t tolerate it. When she confesses to Thyra, Thyra tries her hardest to help her, but feels betrayed, which causes a rift in their relationship.
Brokenhearted and feeling alone, the group of Krigere make their way to Thyra’s uncle’s tribe – where he is the Chieftain and together the two tribes can join together, much to Thyra’s dismay.
When they reach Thyra’s uncle’s tribe, Ansa has to deal with loads of new information about Thyra, her curse, and the real evil that threatens their tribe.
While I really loved The Impostor Queen, I felt like there was something missing in this book. It was a really great second installment, don’t get me wrong, and I am so excited for the next book in the series! But at the same time, I didn’t feel like I was able to really connect to Ansa’s character as well as I was able to connect to Elli’s in The Impostor Queen. This book, however, adds necessary story elements that will come about in the final book. While I found it a bit difficult to keep some of the other characters straight (there were an abundance of them, and a good portion of them seemed to lack any distinguishing personality traits), I really found myself liking some of them at the end of the book that I didn’t really like much at the beginning, much to my surprise.
I loved that while Ansa’s feelings for Thyra didn’t take center stage, they did play a vital role in the story. It is a very complicated relationship that the two of them share, and while it wasn’t an “over the top” love story, it added a nice element that made Ansa’s character appear more realistic. She had to come to terms to figure out who she was and what she wanted, all while battling a weird curse that was causing her to accidentally kill people. Talk about awkward.
If you haven’t read the first book in the series, and you like fantasy, go read it! It’s a spectacular book that has so much going on. If you have read it, you need to read this one, too! There’s a lot in here that adds to the first novel in the series, so it isn’t one that you should overlook if you enjoyed the first novel.