Ice Kingdom

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Ice Massacre | Ice Crypt

Ice Kingdom was written by Tiana Warner and first published in 2017. It is the final instalment of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy, continuing the story of two girls’ mission to liberate the ocean from a tyrannical king. The novel carries on directly from where the previous instalments – Ice Massacre (2014) and Ice Crypt (2016) left off, so you really have to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Although Meela and Lysi managed to escape with their lives, the Battle of Eriana Kwai had disastrous consequences. King Adaro now has control of Sisiutl – the invulnerable two-headed serpent – and with it the power to wage war on both land and sea. Although Meela has finally become a mermaid, there is little time for her to enjoy her new life with Lysi. The two of them now must find a way to save the world.

However, the girls struggle to agree on a course of action. While Meela wants to take the fight straight to Adaro, Lysi believes that their best chance would be to make allies of Queen Medusa of the Atlantic, and to use her armies to liberate Utopia. While Lysi tries to convince Meela to abandon her thoughts of vengeance, the mermaids slip further into civil war as Adaro sends more and more prisoners to die in his labour camps.

Yet Adaro isn’t the only threat to the oceans. Spurred by Sisiutl’s attacks, the American military has finally been spurred to action. When their early strikes against the giant monster end in disaster, they have no choice but to deploy more powerful weapons. It soon becomes clear that Meela and Lysi must find a way to make peace between the mermaids and humans before the two races wipe each other out…

If you read my reviews of the first two instalments of this trilogy, you might remember that I was rather taken by them. Ice Massacre was a dark and unforgiving fantasy story and Ice Crypt provided a lot of additional world-building in the form of a glimpse into mermaid society. However, I have to say that I was rather disappointed by Ice Kingdom. While it was still readable, it did not engage me anywhere near as much as the previous instalments did.

The biggest issue that I had with Ice Kingdom was that the plot just seemed to be too stretched out, as though there just was not enough of it to fill a 368-page novel. The previous two instalments were well paced, with frequent exciting scenes to keep the story flowing. However, Ice Kingdom had an entirely different feel. It was slow-burning and just seemed to meander for most of its length. The sense of rebellion has mostly gone as Lysi and Meela only run into Las Reinas a couple of times over the course of the story. Instead, the novel merely follows the two teenagers as they travel between oceans, until the plot finally catches up with them.

This pacing was made more problematic by the fact that Ice Kingdom is a lot more exposition-heavy than previous instalments. As Meela is now a mermaid, the novel is set almost entirely beneath the sea. Unfortunately, this really narrows the reader’s perspective, as two of the narrative voices are generally always together. Most of the information that Lysi and Meela receive about Adaro’s tyranny told, rather than shown. The reader is informed about his labour camps, coups and strikes, but does not ever really see any evidence of this.

In terms of world-building, this means that Ice Kingdom really fails to develop. We’re three books into the series now, yet this novel does not really offer anything new. While early chapters do show a few glimpses of Meela learning to hone her mermaid senses, this is all but forgotten as the novel progresses. Not only does she quickly prove to be as fast and agile in the water as a naturally born mermaid, but she also figures out how to fire a crossbow underwater perfectly after only a few tries.

The pace of Ice Kingdom does not really pick up until around the 75% mark of the Kindle version, and I am pleased to say that from this point it was a return to force. Although I would have liked for there to be a bit more of a climax (nothing really compares to the Battle of Eriana Kwai from the previous book), the ending was satisfying and I particularly enjoyed Meela’s final showdown with Adaro. The trilogy closed on a perfect note, neatly closing off the story and leaving no loose ends hanging.

In terms of characterisation, both Meela and Lysi were still likeable and worked well as a couple. However, I was disappointed to find that their voices became a bit interchangeable after a while. Despite their very different upbringings, their first personal narratives carried very similar tones and as soon as Meela began to mellow out, I often found that I had to flip back to the beginning of chapters to remind myself of who was speaking.

Ice Kingdom also introduced a new character called Ben. Ben was a twenty-something year old Navy SEAL. He provided the voice for the sections set on land, however I did not find that I grew especially attached to him. His backstory was entirely delivered through exposition and he had far less chapters than the rest, so I did not have the opportunity to grow to love him. I also felt that more could possibly have been made of Adaro’s backstory, as this proved to be a decent twist. Yet, as far as I can remember, none of this was even hinted at in previous instalments and so it all felt as though it came a little out of left field.

Anyhow, I think that about sums everything up. While I fell in love with both Ice Massacre and Ice Crypt, I am sad to say that I was left a bit disappointed by Ice Kingdom. While it did pick up steam in its final act, I struggled to get to this point as the novel was quite slow and exposition-heavy. Still, with Meela and Lysi’s adventure over, I do look forward to seeing what Warner will write next.

Ice Kingdom can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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