Publication Date: MARCH 4, 2021
Rating: 4/5


Ice is in her blood.

Eighteen-year-old Waterrunner Eira Landan lives her life in the shadows—the shadow of her older brother, of her magic’s whispers, and of the person she accidentally killed. She’s the most unwanted apprentice in the Tower of Sorcerers until the day she decides to step out and compete for a spot in the Tournament of Five Kingdoms.

Pitted against the best sorcerers in the Empire, Eira fights to be one of four champions. Excelling in the trials has its rewards. She’s invited to the royal court with the ‘Prince of the Tower,’ discovers her rare talent for forbidden magic, and at midnight, Eira secretly meets with a handsome elfin ambassador.

But, Eira soon learns, no reward is without risk. As she comes into the spotlight, so too do the skeletons of a past she hadn’t even realized was haunting her.

Eira went into the trials ready for a fight. Ready to win. She wasn’t ready for what it would cost her. No one expected the candidates might not make it out with their lives.

What a book this one is. Truly a great book with great story but the characters? Well, let’s just say I had huge problems with the protagonist and the villain. Does this mean I’m disappointed? No, as I said above this is a great book and I really find the story enjoyable.

This book is about a girl named Eira who’d been keeping herself low so that she won’t get too much attention after the horrible tragedy that happened to her three years prior. After years of being in her brother’s shadow, she finally saw her chance to prove to herself and everyone else who has doubted her that she can protect herself by competing in the tournament of five kingdoms. From there, her life was turned upside down after a new revelation regarding who she really is, and after the huge betrayal that befell her later on.

What I liked the most about this book was the trials. There are many sorcerers who are competing in the trials including the protagonist herself, Eira. There are a mixed of easy and extremely dangerous trials that these sorcerers had to face. The challenges went from small to big real quick. These trials had its purpose which is to keep the peace between five kingdoms intact. However, it was also to show which four sorcerers will represent their own group. Out of all the candidates, only four will be chosen to go to Meru to compete with the other sorcerers from the other kingdoms.

If I was asked to pick which trial I like the most, I would definitely choose the written test about the history of Meru. I’m not good enough to participate in the other trials that required physical strength and magic. After witnessing the horror Eira had to go through, the other trials except for the written test are terrifying. Still blew my mind these young sorcerers who are still in their teens managed to make it through. Sadly, the final trial took a sinister turn which I obviously didn’t expect at all. I didn’t think it would go that way. That was a jaw-dropping surprise, and I had to give it to the author for writing that part in.

Honestly, this book for the most part can be very unpredictable. There wasn’t a lot of surprises but when there was, it blew my mind and shocked me to the point I didn’t know what to expect. There was a twist too regarding Eira’s background. I had a theory regarding that one, and the more I read the story the more I was convinced my theory was right but when I really think about it, it seems unlikely considering the story has been very unpredictable so far. My theory regarding Eira is Adela’s daughter kind of make sense but then again, it’s too predictable. When Eira had a conversation with Deneya, I doubted my theory was right because they made it sound like she doesn’t have any relation with Adela. The mystery regarding who is Eira’s birth mother is still open, so I’m hoping the answer will be in the sequel.

There are also plenty of outstanding actions in this book. Seeing the sorcerers used their magic in the trials was a delightful moment. I loved reading about characters who knows what they are doing and who have a lot of experience in using their own magical powers. Safe to say that all of the sorcerers in this book are well-experienced, and knew what to do in the trials. The vast majority of them are pretty smart actually. There was also this one moment when Eira had to use her physical strength more than her magic in one of the trials, it was by far my most favorite moment of her.

The actions in this book are well-written, and the author nailed it the most with giving full descriptions of the trials and what the candidates should do in those said trials. The well-detailed explanations and descriptions made me even more hooked. The trials part are so engrossing and I really loved how good it was handled in this book.

The whole storyline and plot as I said are unpredictable for the most part and there was a twist in the story. I thought I need to read the Air Awakens series first before starting this one, but I’m glad I don’t have to. There is nothing confusing about this book at all, of course a few of the characters from the previous series appeared in this book too but at least this one doesn’t focus on them but rather focus on new characters and their journey.

This is basically a spin-off series since it takes place in the same world as the Air Awakens series. I never read that series but from the synopsis I knew it would take place in the same world considering the name of the main characters from that series are in the series’ synopsis, and the said characters also appeared in this book. Fans of the previous series will be thrilled to see their favorite characters again in this new series even though they appeared as side characters this time.

As for me who never even read that series, I do enjoyed seeing the characters from that series appearing in this new series. I liked seeing the interactions between the old and new characters. Also, it was good to see the little glimpse of the old characters’ lives, and how are they doing now. It was like seeing a crossover of two different worlds even though it takes place in the same world, well you get the idea. I really liked how the author set this all up, made it all the more interesting.

I need to take this moment to talk a little bit about the vibe of this book. It basically screams dark academia to me. This book has it all; four different groups of sorcerers with four different magical abilities, the trials of sorcerers, a secret chamber found by the protagonist, an old journal filled with old secrets and a bit of sinister contents, and one of the trials turn into a murder scene. These are all intriguing to me but the one that holds my attention the most was the old journal found in the secret chamber. There was a mixed of dark and light tones in the story, it was perfectly balanced.

The ending was intense and emotional. It was intense because I can already feel the dangers that are lurking in the shadows trying to strike the four sorcerers from Solaris who were chosen to go to Meru to compete in many more trials against sorcerers from the other kingdoms. I’m more worried about someone targeting Eira after what happened to her and her brother in the last few chapters. The reason the ending was emotional was due to what happened to Eira and her brother before continuing her journey to Meru.

I did not expect a disaster to happen at all near the end, so it was still shocking to me after seeing how everything plays out in the end. It was a really good and unexpected ending but it surely made me want more. I guess I have to wait a bit longer until the sequel comes out. I’m so excited to see how the journey of Eira, Cullen, Alyss, and Noelle to Meru will be like. I’m so pump to see what trials are these four going to face there, I know it’ll be extremely different than the ones they’d face in Solaris but I’m scared for their lives too since whatever they’ll face next will be too difficult and dangerous.

Now let’s talk about the characters…

Eira is the protagonist of the story, and well do she have a lot of story to tell. After learning more about her, I can understand her situation and how she feels all the time. She and I are more alike in many ways. I didn’t expect to read about a protagonist who is too relatable but here I am.

I feel sad for her due to what happened to her three years ago and how her entire family doubted her except for her aunt ever since then. Her family always thought she needed to be protected by her brother all the time, they thought no one should let her out of their sights, and they also thought she can’t handle herself. I feel sorry for her that her family are being overprotective and still view her as a child while she is not. I understand overprotectiveness bit. She was in her brother’s shadow for years and no one expected her to fight back, all of them expected her to back down because to them she didn’t deserve to compete in the trials.

How messed up was that that they wanted her brother to shine since he is the golden child. They wanted her brother to win the trials because they believed he can. They didn’t even care how Eira was feeling whenever they let her down. They don’t care what she wanted best for herself. All they care about is her brother and then completely alienated her. Her parents told her they loved her but didn’t want to support her when she was competing in the trials. I get why she was being irrational sometimes, and why she felt so lonely. After all, nobody wants her to unlock her full potential because it would be dangerous.

This is why Eira is so relatable to me because I’ve been in the same situation as her too except for competing in the trials. It did hurt when your parents give their full attention to your older sibling and only give you a little bit of attention. I understood the feeling of hurt that Eira felt in this book and I get where her jealousy came from, but those treatments she received from her own family only boost her motivation to prove to herself and to them that she can take care of herself, that she can handle whatever life throws her way, and that she can protect herself despite people doubting her all the time. She really did take matters into her own hands and chose her own path, it was the growth I’ve been waiting for.

I liked how Eira was determined to win the trials not because she was secretly good at everything but because she wanted to go to Meru. She had a strong obsession with that kingdom and always wanted to go there, and competing in the trials is her only chance. She definitely didn’t waste her time and just go with what she wanted, and her heart agreed. She’d proven to herself that she can do more than just stay in Solaris, and she also proven to others that she is stronger than they think. Shame on the people who doubted her and thought she wouldn’t make it to the final trial. I loved how Eira proved them wrong, it was really satisfying to see their shock expressions.

While she was good at proving others wrong, she was also really naive. For a smart girl she surely made poor decisions when it comes to attractive guys. I was still baffled by the fact that she easily melted at a guy’s words and believed whatever came out of the guy’s mouth. She’s 18, how can she throw away any caution just to be close to an attractive elf? I expected her to think clearly instead of being reckless. She endangered not only her life but also everyone’s lives too. I thought after the incident with Adam she learned her lesson on not to easily trust the words of an attractive male. Clearly she forgotten all about that which was really frustrating to see. This is the only problem I have with her character.

Eira is smart but also naive. She was stubborn too when someone give her an advice, and then she went out of her way to do something as reckless as having a secret meeting with the elf which only ended up with her being betrayed by the said elf. I don’t want to see her being reckless again, I don’t want to see her blindly trust someone just because they’re attractive, and I definitely didn’t want to see her putting her guard down and be naive whenever she’s around strangers whom she just met. Just because they’re kind doesn’t mean they’re entirely good, the elf she admired proved it that much. She need to have a proper character development in the sequel because in this book, she doesn’t have a single strong development at all. I hope she will be given a good character development that can help her character be more likable and be a lot wiser.

Marcus is Eira’s brother and well he was a surprising one. I thought he actually like having her as his sister but his honest confession broke my heart. Considering they are not blood related and Eira’s birth mother is still a mystery, seeing Marcus straight up said he never wanted a sister in front of her only hurt me more as a reader to read that part. He was kind and is very protective as any older brother should, but he was also a bit selfish. The way he asked Eira to drop out of the trials was uncalled for. I get that he wanted to win, but can’t he let her sister shine for once after being in his shadow for years?

Despite not being blood related, he still loved her as if she is his own sister. I mean, she was still his sister despite not having the same parents. At first, I was skeptical that he was fine with Eira competing in the trials but his true color showed later on, and good to know that he wasn’t entirely a bad person. He was just being selfish and irrational which I really understand but still that made me disliked him a bit. He was a good big brother to her and there was too much pressure on him that came with looking out for Eira but he doesn’t complain much. After letting out his frustration, he still supported her and never stop making sure she’ll survived the trials.

He gets a small character development but at least his character developed throughout the story. It was sad to see him go and that I won’t be seeing him again. Truly heartbreaking that his time was short, I wish he survived just so I can have more contents of him and Eira spending their quality time together as siblings.

Cullen is Marcus’ friend who can’t tolerate Eira but was really kind to her later on. He was described as a self-absorbed person but the more he open up about himself, the more it proved that he was the opposite. He had a reputation to uphold and his father’s expectation of him was higher that it seems really unrealistic, these are the reasons why he had to put up a fake image of him being perfect in front of everyone. I wouldn’t mind if he  shows his true self more without having to keep up the pretence. I liked it more whenever he showed his true self in this book. He look so vulnerable and so uncomfortable with keeping whatever secrets he had to keep. I wonder what those secrets are, and I can’t wait to find out more about it. There are still this air of mystery surrounding his character and I hope he would continue to be good to Eira instead of being fine with her one moment and then ignoring her the next.

Ferro is an elfin with a hidden agenda. At first, I wasn’t really sure if he is trustworthy because he acted shady every time he appeared which turns out to be correct. What shocked me the most was finding out his real motive for being there in Solaris. He is the villain of the story in this book, and I have no doubt I’ll be seeing him again in the sequel since he didn’t die but was captured for sabotaging the final trial. Whenever he showed himself, I felt really uncomfortable with his presence because there was this dark air that surrounds him and he was extremely mysterious.

I was intrigued by his character at first due to his mysteriousness but the more I read about his character, the more annoyed I become. I just couldn’t stand him, I wanted him gone like halfway through. I hope he won’t try to redeem himself because he definitely is irredeemable, and after what he did I doubt he felt any remorse at all. He even laughed like a maniac after murdering a few sorcerers. I admit that he was written so well for a villainous character; he had a strong motive but the reason behind it hasn’t been revealed entirely and I’m hoping it would be explain in the sequel, he also acted like how a villain should act which was pretending to care for the protagonist by saying sweet things to her while secretly manipulating her and plotting her murder, and lastly pretending to be the good guy in front of everyone by helping others when it benefit him but is in fact waiting for the right moment to strike.

The author knew how to make Ferro a villain in this book without being too obvious. I didn’t know he was secretly evil even though I was suspicious of him. All I felt whenever he was present are just uncertainty and discomfort. I didn’t expect the story to revealed him as the villain but it was a nice surprise. Really caught me off guard but I loved the twist nonetheless.

I hope to see more appearance from the other characters such as Fritz, Alyss, Deneya and Gwen in the sequel. Maybe, throw in Adela to make an appearance too since she was mentioned plenty of time in this book but never showed up. Fritz is Eira’s uncle and Gwen is her aunt, I loved the scenes that involved these three together, it really showed how much they care for her despite not being actually related to them. I get why Fritz was a bit hard on her, he just wanted to protect her from losing control of her own magic because she did lose control a few times but managed to control her magic at the last minute before it strikes someone.

Eira can be dangerous if she doesn’t have a proper control over her magic. Her magical abilities are unique and it was mostly ice but she also possessed a different ability which was hearing the whispers from the walls and any items or objects. That kind of ability put her in a much more dangerous position than she realized and Fritz was right to protect her but she’s a big girl, he can’t protect her all the time. It would be best if he helps her control her magic instead of telling her to suppress it. If he helps her then I’m sure she would have better control of it and it might not become too dangerous. I loved the uncle-niece moments between them, she respected him even after how much he told her not to do the things she wanted to do, and all he wanted to do was to protect her. Her parents might not love her the way they loved her brother but at least she still have her uncle who love her the same amount as he loved her brother.

Gwen is one of the best and most supportive fictional aunts. I loved how she was encouraging Eira to take matters into her own hands and to control her own destiny. She supported Eira since the beginning and never wanted to hold her back from reaching her full potential. She is the kindest aunt a niece could’ve asked for. I definitely want to see more of Gwen and Eira, just the two of them talking about how they are so done with the people in their lives telling them what they should and shouldn’t do, and then ended up doing what they know is best for them despite the disagreements they’ll get from their family. There are so many similarities between the two of them and I’m happy that Eira at least have someone who will always be there to support her all the time.

Alyss is Eira’s best friend and I liked how she also supported Eira. She always boost Eira’s confidence and gave her some good advice. Despite sometimes she doesn’t always agree with Eira, she’ll always find a way to help her own best friend even though what she did was totally out of character for her. I can’t wait to see what these two will do next and since both are going to continue their journey to Meru, I hope both of them will do great in the next stage of the trials. As for Deneya, she can be a good friend to Eira if given the chance, but for now I’m not sure if they’ll ever be friends. Maybe she can help mentor Eira when it comes to physical fighting because the girl shouldn’t rely on her magic all the time. Just to be careful in case someone manhandling Eira and she can’t summon her magic, best let her have some training in physical fights. I’m holding on to the hope this will happen in the sequel even though the chances are very thin.

There was little-to-no romance in this book which to me is just fine since this book heavily focused on Eira’s journey as a sorcerer, and the whole trials to keep the peace between five kingdoms. I liked that the book doesn’t focus too much on the romantic aspect because sometimes the romance took over the plot and storyline which makes the whole book hard to enjoy. This book has been great even with the little-to-no romance moments or if you can even call it a romance, it depends on how each reader view it as.

The whole Ferro and Eira thing made me feel extremely uncomfortable and annoyed. It was frustrating to see how Eira was naive and didn’t see all the red flags on Ferro. What made me want to scream out of frustration was hearing Eira said she ‘love’ Ferro? Excuse me, LOVE??? This has to be a joke isn’t it!

Eira doesn’t have any experience being with a guy, let alone being with an elf like Ferro. They had secret meetings late at night, and all they did was just talking about their respective kingdoms, the trials, and about the sorcerers magical abilities. He always kissed her hands but never her lips. They didn’t even hold hands longer than a few minutes, and the only time his lips touched hers was when he gave her a peck on the lips before plotting her murder the next day. I wouldn’t even call a peck on the lips as official kissing if it was just a one second peck. And then hearing Eira said she ‘love’ him made me realize that Eira is a clown. For real, what is this clownery? She definitely need a reality check and to spend more time outside to touch some grass. That would help her get rid of her clown behavior.

Eira and Ferro doesn’t even have any sort of connection and they had zero chemistry together making their late night romantic-esque scenes really hard for me to read because I was cringing the whole time. I was so disgusted, sorry not sorry. Also, I was really frustrated with Eira being easily smitten by Ferro, she made me want to punch a wall quite a lot of time which is obviously unhealthy. Just like their dynamic, unhealthy and toxic. He’s a murderer who sabotaged the last trial which resulted in the death of her brother and the other sorcerers in her group. Right after that, he pursued his mission to murder her which turns out to be unsuccessful due to how strong her power was. He literally basked in his glory from murdering the sorcerers in Eira’s group including her brother. He’s irredeemable and it really fits his character to be so vicious.

As for Cullen and Eira, these two definitely have chemistry and connection. Anybody with eyes can see it. Unlike with Ferro, Eira and Cullen actually kissed. These two doesn’t hate each other but they’re barely able to tolerate one another. Cullen can be very obnoxious sometimes but he has a good heart and even willingly helped Eira despite his father’s warning. Eira found comfort in his presence even though she wanted to disliked him a lot. As the story goes on, they grew closer but not in the romantic sense although I can feel it coming. Cullen is charismatic in a good way whereas Ferro was the complete opposite.

I do hope Cullen and Eira get together at one point. When it comes to the love interest department, he has it all while Ferro has zero. They would be great together but there will obviously some real obstacles that will try to tear them apart. Cullen’s father was quite a vicious man, and I’m sure he would do anything to prevent his son from falling for someone from a normal family. Eira had a lot of thinking to do and in her current state, it won’t do her good to get into a relationship maybe one day soon when she and Cullen are able to put all the dangers behind them and are confident enough to overcome any challenges. I really loved the development of their relationship, from two people who couldn’t stand each other to friends who grow closer each time they are together. I just hope their romance will be written in an epic way when the time comes. As for now, the story is focusing on their friendship first.

This book as an overall has its ups and downs, especially when it comes to the protagonist, Eira. Despite the flaws in her character which affected how she narrate the story, I still enjoyed reading it. This book was full of intriguing plot, intense trials between sorcerers, and Eira’s personal journey because that is the point of the whole book. The story started off strong and ended in an emotional way, but at least the ending helps keep the hype going for the sequel. I’m looking forward to see more of Eira, Cullen, Alyss, Gwen, and Fritz. The next journey would be a lot more intense than what was shown in this book, I can feel it so that excites me more. If you’re into a page-turning story that can make you feel on edge and turn you into a detective to find out who is trustworthy and who isn’t, then this might interest you. Bonus point, if you like reading about sorcerers competing in intense and dangerous trials then you’re in for a treat and prepare your mind to be blown away.

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