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Why did I choose to read this book?
When I found The Cradle of Ice (Moon Fall #2) on NetGalley the description pulled me in immediately. I requested and was granted its DRC via NetGalley (The Cradle of Ice releases February 7th), and once this happened I requested and obtained a copy of The Starless Crown at my local library.
What is this book about?
This book takes place on our Earth (Urth) but the globe has stopped spinning. One half of the globe is ice, the other is molten, but one circle gets just enough sun to be habitable. It’s also been many millennia since the Earth has been what we know it as today, so society has regressed back into being more of a medieval type society, although science (Alchymy) and religion are studied equally in the places for education. Different areas of The Crown (the landmass not the kingdom) worship different pantheons, but all know of the old gods that were vanquished by the current ones and buried forever. The events of this book begin centered around a prophecy, that the old gods will be reborn and destroy the Urth, and everything extends out from there.
What is notable about the story?
This is the first book I have read in a long time that brought several different groups of people together for the climax in a satisfying way. Most fantasy novels either have them together from the start, or they SLAM together at the end just by happenstance and it doesn’t feel earned. Rollins takes his time and every movement makes sense, every emotion and decision has its place, all motivations are super clear – just a fancy way of saying I didn’t roll my eyes at anything, which is refreshing! All of out main character groups end up finding each other and working together, and almost as fast as it is formed, their fellowship must break apart to help save the Urth from the great cataclysm of Moonfall (which is what would happen if the Earth’s rotation actually stopped, the Moon would spin closer and closer until it collided with us).
Rollins does an excellent job blending religion and science, to the point that it makes sense to the reader for them to be working together. They inform each other, and an acceptance of each as a balance on the other makes for not just a believable world but one we might aspire to ourselves. Of course there are extremists who take things too far in both camps and they are showcased in the story as well, but even they play their part in pushing everyone toward the ultimate goal of escaping calamity.
I am also a huge sucker for any book that incorporates found family. The MAIN main character Nyx is blown about from found family to found family, and is lucky enough to land with caring people each time. But she’s not viewed as a weak woman – her families respect her intellect and abilities and encourage her to be the best she can be. This helped me as a reader to have hope each time she faced adversity – she will be safe because the people around her would never let harm come to her. As a fantasy reader I know that this can’t last, but in this first book where relationships and alliances are formed, the character building of Nyx and everyone around her was done exceptionally well. I care about everyone now and no one is allowed to get hurt too badly, okay?
Was anything not so great?
This is kind of a notable thing more than it is a critique, but I am usually not a fan of animal deaths in books. If a human is closely bonded with the animal I don’t care if it’s a cat, dog or elephant – reading about animal deaths just rips me apart inside.
Rollins gives these creatures honorable deaths. I don’t want to give too much away about which animals, but the fact that they died doing what they loved (being with their humans) and were NOT alone made them a little bit easier to read. This is a heads up though that you will be crying a few times reading this book, so maybe don’t read it in public unless you’re comfortable dabbing at tears in front of people.
The other “not so great” thing again wasn’t even about the story, it’s more of a caution to readers in general: get this book on Kindle/eReader. I loved this book, every time I returned to it it was fantastic and I couldn’t stop. But because the physical book that I got from the library was SO HUGE (almost 600 pages!) my brain continuously got psyched out/recoiled from the size of the tome. I think that since I have The Cradle of Ice as a digital advanced reader copy I will be finished much faster than I was with The Starless Crown. I don’t want you to possibly avoid or put this one aside based on its size alone – this story is amazing, please read it however you can get it – so if you can get it digitally, I would highly recommend it.
What’s the verdict?
This book is an epic fantasy masterpiece. It’s a masterclass in character investment and story pacing. 5 stars on Goodreads and if you are facing some long, cold, winter nights this is definitely a book to consider picking up to keep you warm. GO GET IT.
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