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.
The Frozen Crown is author Greta Kelly’s fantastic first installment of the Warrior Witch Duology. There is so much to like about this book from the beautiful cover to the interesting characters to the tension-filled storyline. The Frozen Crown was a hit with me, and if you like stories like this I think it will be a hit with you, too. Let’s dig in.
I have to say (and this does not always happen), but the synopsis nails the plot. The entirety of the book is Askia hanging out in Vishir working the political system in an attempt to bring an army back to Seravesh and free her kingdom from her usurper cousin who took the throne forcefully. That was a mouthful, which, suffice to say, is pretty much the way this story goes. There is a lot of political maneuvering, which I am not always a fan of on its own merit as the main driver of the narrative. But, Kelly does a great job of incorporating enough narrative tension to make it work. I credit the depth of the story for that, because, even though the storyline sounds very straightforward, it is much more intricate than it appears. In addition to the main storyline, there are lots of other angles at play: family issues, forbidden magic (gotta love a Secret Order of Witches), manipulation (policital and otherwise), and even a little romance (not much but just enough to make it worth mentioning). The author included all of these aspects into a very well-written narrative that ebbs and flows and created enough tension to make it intriguing all the way through.
As good as the plot is, this story is really all about Askia. She is the driving force behind this story. Exiled from her kingdom, Askia’s sole focus is finding a way to free her people and win her throne back from her cousin. What I love about Askia so much is she does not pretend to have the right answers all the time. She is a badass warrior witch, and, no, she does not care about your rules. Askia is going to do things her way… until, maybe not? She is a “foreigner” (more on that shortly) in Vishir’s court, and has to learn how to play by their rules if she is going to get an audience with the emperor. But, being a queen herself, Askia is also allowed certain accommodations for a person of her station and the local etiquette does not always apply. So, what we get is an Askia who is at times confident, self-assured, and demanding; other times she is unsure and wavering. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that Askia is not a true foreigner, as she has ties to Vishir. She lived there for a time with her parents when she young and spent time there on and off. I do not want to say too much more about that, because I want to keep away from spoilers, but it is important to note that there are a ton of layers here. It goes deep, constantly building upon the tension. I really grew to love Askia over the course of the story. Her loyalty, dedication, and courage are inspirational, and her story evokes a lot of emotion. She is the perfect protagonist for this story.
I should mention the rest of the cast of characters. The character set is not huge, which I enjoyed. The fact that there are only a handful of important characters allows for the reader to get to know them intimately, which fits with the tone of the book. I am not going to mention them by name, but know that Askia encounters witches, old friends, new friends, family, love interests, wanna-be love interests, politicians, and foreign dignitaries. She also spends a little bit of time swooning over a few hunky guys (wiggles eyebrows). The character set was great, every one of them being distinctive and fascinating in their own way.
I do have to say, there is not a ton of world-building, which I found to be surprising because the first thing I encountered when I opened the book was a map. I am never going to complain about a map (I love them so!), but the story does not get into the wider world all that much. But, as I mentioned before, this story is meant to be more of a small batch, a close-up, and there really is not any reason to do so. And did I mention the gorgeous cover? It hooked me from the start.
I cannot sign off without talking about the ending. It has its share of twists and turns, though nothing I would label as shocking. It is quite a satisfying ending in certain ways, but it does leave things wide open for book 2; this being a duology, the second book will be the finale, and I am excited to see where it goes.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Frozen Crown. The story is intimate and intricate. And quite intriguing all the way through. If you are a fan of this kind of story about royalty and political intrigue, I recommend this book for you. I will be anticipating the next (and last) book in the duology, for sure.