EP03: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Join me as I discuss The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly. This adult fantasy novel was a real treat and I enjoyed reading about a strong female character.

Books Mentioned

The Frozen Crown book cover
The Seventh Queen book cover
The Blacksmith Queen book cover

Full Transcript

Hello, everyone and welcome back to Mel Talks Books. If you haven’t figured it out already by the title, I am your host, Mel, and I’m a librarian by day and I’m apparently a podcaster by night. But this channel is all about talking about the books that I’ve read and trying to bring my one sided discussion out to a few more people who are willing to listen to me talk. Alright, so let’s just dive right into episode number three, in which I will be discussing The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly.

Book Description

This is an adult fantasy novel and I actually enjoyed this one. So let me just give you a brief rundown of what the book was about. So our main character is Princess Askia, A-S-K-I-A, so I don’t know if I’m saying it right. This is what I’m getting with. So Princess Askia is at war, she was usurped by her cousin who’s taken over the throne in her realm. And she is now at war with not only her cousin, but with the emperor of the Northern Kingdoms.

So basically, she’s trying to save her people from this war, where the Emperor is trying to conquer all of the kingdoms in the north and bring them under his one crown. And she doesn’t want that. Also, there’s been a lot of destruction of her people, and she really wants to save innocents as much as she can.

So in an effort to save her country, she goes to the Southern Territories, or the Southern Empire, which is called the Vishir Empire. And she intends to go there to ask that Emperor for help and acquire their army. And she’s hoping that it’ll kind of be mutually beneficial, since no one really wants more power in the north either, because eventually that could travel down south.

However, once she gets to Vishir, things are not exactly as easy as she thought it might be. And she has to learn how to navigate court politics and deal with enemies from numerous sides all coming down to whether or not she can actually get the help that she wants.

That’s basically the plotline without giving too much away.

Before I get into the discussion, I just want to remind everybody that this does contain spoilers, I will be talking about the book in its entirety. So if you feel like this is something you might want to read and don’t want to be spoiled about the plot or characters, then please just pause right here, go read the book, and then come back after you’re done so and then maybe we can discuss later on.

World Building

The Frozen Crown is a high fantasy novel. The author creates a world all her own. And I always love to see that because there’s so many directions that you can go into. And it just amazes me that you not only create characters, but also a world with civilizations and all that comes with it for society.

So it’s one of my favorite things about fantasy is that you really do get to escape. I mean, that’s why we read books a lot is to escape from the real world and getting into a fantasy novel where you are thrown into a new place. It’s just really exciting to me.

So in this novel, we basically have two different empires. One is in the north, one’s in the south, and then there’s a neutral zone in the middle. But that’s not really part of this story, yet. There were hints about the places and the people who were in them, but I didn’t feel like the descriptions were that detailed. So it was almost hard to peg what these societies will look like.

Now in the Northern Territories, so this is the Roven Empire, where Askia is the Princess of Saravesh. Her description is that she lives in this mountainous area where they have cold and winter and so that thrown in with some of the character descriptions made me feel as if the northern was more European based. Viking based.

Whereas the Southern Empire, so the Vishir Empire had more Middle Eastern types of influence. They had darker hair, their architecture was a little bit different. It was also very warm weather. They had the sand and the seas. It just gave me some more of that Middle Eastern vibe, Egyptian vibes. Versus the north, which we haven’t really gotten into in this one, since everything basically takes place in the south.

So maybe we’ll get more subsequent novels, it’s tough to say. So maybe we’ll get to see more in the future novel that will give us just a bigger picture of what the north looks like, especially since that’s what she’s trying to protect.

I loved going down to Vishir, and just imagining what this court looked like with all of these people. And you really got a good picture of the atmosphere that she was in that you have all of these people just scheming and ruling. And the power and how one who is an outsider has to come in and try to basically play the game.

And I think even though Askia is a very powerful woman, and she’s very confident in what she’s trying to achieve, she’s still strong, she still has so much to learn. And I think that going to court kind of threw her off a little bit, because it wasn’t something that she was used to. So it wasn’t as simple as just saying, “I need your armies.  I’m right, give them to me.” I mean, there was a lot that she had to do to play and try to convince people that it was the right thing to do, not only for her own kingdom, but for them as well.

Magic Usage

Another interesting aspect of this story was that some characters had magical abilities, and we got to see a little bit of it thrown in here. I feel like a lot of things just kind of got sprinkled in, and I really wanted to see more, and it just didn’t really quite get there. But that’s okay. Overall, I still enjoyed this.

So there are some people who have magic and in the north, it seems to be less, okay, like it’s more hidden than in the southern Empire. They seem to be a little bit more open with it. However, there’s also a religious group that is completely against anybody who has magic, sees them as witches and wants to read the world of magic. So you have to balance this line between embracing it, but also hiding it because you could be persecuted. And if you’re around the wrong person, you don’t really know how they’re going to react.

But the magic was kind of cool. They have several different types of witches. There’s actually seven different types, and we find out that Askia is a death witch, which is one of the most powerful and rare types of witch out there.

Now, like I said before, there’s also this religious fanatic group that are completely against those with magic. And they have some good reason because the Emperor Radovan in the north is absorbing the magical abilities and then transferring them to others all to make his army more powerful. So beyond just the fact that those with magical abilities could be weaponized, we also have someone who is using them in that manner.

But Askia also has her own background with this religious group, which has caused her to hide her magic and really suffocate the power that was in her. Her parents were accused of creating this earthquake that ended up murdering or killing a whole bunch of people. And she was subsequently tortured in their interrogation to discover if she was also a witch, having two witch parents.

Now because of the fact that her power is that she can see dead people and nobody else can. She passed the test after all this torture, but she has a lot of trauma, understandably so, regarding that group of people and what she went through. What her parents went through. That I think she’s also afraid to bring her magic out. 

And when she gets to the court, we find out that the head queen is also a witch who has magical abilities and wants Askia not only to be a member of their Guild, but also to learn and embrace her power because it could be helpful. She can use the dead to do what she needs. They can be weaponized for her bidding, or at least those spirits that have lingered on. And she even had one person, who upon his death, said that he would serve her in the afterlife. So there’s a lot that can go with this.

I thought it was interesting too, that they showed the good side of magic along with the bad. You have people that are healers and they’re trying to help others when medicine can only go so far. You also have where Askia helped the Emperor and the Queen and how she could see one of their sons, who had died as a child. And she was actually able to create a physical manifestation of that spirit. I think that could really bring peace to people, and maybe even to that spirit knowing that they were in peace.

I just thought it was really an interesting way to go about this. And it wasn’t an easy journey for her to really develop that magic. And I think it’s realistic, because we see a lot of times where someone has suppressed it, and they’re supposed to be really powerful. And it seems like it only takes them a week to go from never using it to being the most powerful being ever. And that wasn’t the case here.

She struggles to learn how to use her power. And even by the end of the book, she still hasn’t gotten a good grip on what’s going on. And I think that’s gonna play a big part going into the next novel with how this one ended, that she’s really gonna have to draw on that power, learn how to use it in even worse circumstances, because it’s going to improve to be very helpful to her.

Main Heroine

Alright, moving on, let’s talk about Princess Askia. Since she’s basically the main character of this novel, everything focuses around her.

I really enjoyed her character. She was a very strong female, she fought alongside her men, she knew what she wanted, and she was willing to die for it. She really loved her people and wanted to be a good ruler, and I can appreciate a character like this. She did what she had to do, and she put duty first. There’s obviously some controversy about choosing between what you have to do for your country, or what you should do for yourself.

And I think there are times where she struggled with making those decisions. But I think that made this even more realistic, because people who are in these high positions of power oftentimes have to make decisions that might not be what their heart wants. So I thought that the author did a really good job of showcasing the battle that she had within herself.

And not only did she struggle with her past traumas, and learning this magic, but just figuring out what kind of ruler she wants to be now going into this other court and seeing how things are run. And Vishir is not that great for women, right? They are very much a man driven society. The women are supposed to be meek and quiet. They serve the men; they’re not in positions of power.

So here we have the Princess who’s coming in, and she is mixing things up. She’s not going to adhere to the rules of their society, even though people are telling her to, because that’s just not who she is. And that’s not the type of ruler that she wants to be. And she understands that sometimes you just have to be strong and vocal, even if you’re ruffling some feathers, because that’s how you need to get things done.

Romantic Suitors

Now, as the novel progresses, you can see where she keeps hitting those roadblocks and not getting help and it keeps leading into a marriage agreement. And for a long time, you’re not really sure who she might choose as a suitor. But in the novel, she basically has four suitors that come forth.

One of them for obvious reasons, is not her choice. It’s Emperor Radovan, who has been claiming to be her fiancé since the beginning of this novel. And he is the villain of the story, but he also kills every wife that he has. So I would not choose him either. I fully get that.

Then we have Prince Iskander. He is the one who actually brought her to Vishir. He saw her up north and he brought her down. And pretty much for him, I think it was infatuation at first sight. She isn’t like any of the women he’s used to. So I can understand why there would be that immediate draw. 

And maybe he does want a woman that’s a little bit more strong and outspoken. But she obviously sees him more as a friend. And they also have a lot of people against the relationship. It’s improper that they’re meeting together and the Queen really doesn’t want this to happen. She’s made it clear multiple times that this marriage is not going to be a thing.

And you can tell that there’s an incompatibility level, especially by the end when he sides with the religious fanatics over Askia and everybody else because he just didn’t fully comprehend the situation. Honestly, some of these men were just big babies and the Princes were definitely sheltered.

Then we have the Emperor Vishir [Armaan]. So suitor number three, which ends up being the choice for marriage here. Even though her heart is pulling her in a different direction, it’s the most logical thing to do. And at least her and the Emperor have chemistry. They are sexually attracted to each other. And we even get a tiny, tiny little scene where they engage in that attraction.

But I mean, he’s not a bad guy, even though he has all these wives. But I don’t agree with that. Either way, he’s not bad. I think he sees Askia for what she is and also knows that politically speaking, this is the best thing that they could both do. He can provide her with the army that she needs to move north, and she provides him with additional power and another alliance who is not afraid to have an opinion and I think she could be really good counsel.

We also later learn, towards the end, that the Head Queen is sick and she doesn’t have much longer to live. So Askia would really be stepping into that role that allows her not to be that meek and mild person in this relationship.

Our last suitor is Illya, who is Askia’s head guard. He’s a commander or not a commander. He is a captain in her army, but for this particular trip, he is part of her group of guards. This was a little weird for me, I’m not gonna lie. So I understand that Illya and Askia are supposed to be the end game, that this is the direction that we’re going for love. But I’m going to be honest, it was a little hard to get into this relationship.

One, they barely spoke any words to each other before they even went on this trip. So I’m supposed to believe their feelings when they hadn’t even spoken, and maybe Illya had feelings, right? He loved her from afar, and appreciated the strong woman she was. Okay. So he’s just harboring feelings, but never really acted on anything.

But once they get there, we’re supposed to believe that this is the couple to root for. And I just didn’t see it. There were some moments where they had some chemistry, some tension. Will they kiss? Won’t they kiss? And they’re definitely fighting between that duty and love question.

But I didn’t feel like there were any moments that we really got to see the two characters together growing off of each other or sharing intimate details with each other. And that’s what I look for in a couple. And then you have the end with that cliffhanger. And I’m wondering what’s gonna happen in the second book? And are they really even going to get that time for me to root for them by the end?

Now, I could be completely off base here. But this is just my theory on it. So there we go. We had four men that were all coming after her. And she had to make a choice between somebody. I think she made the right choice given her circumstance. But obviously, that didn’t work out in her favor. So I can’t wait to see how this sort of plays out.
The romance was very much slow burning, and not a lot happened, which when I read The Blacksmith Queen [by G.A. Aiken], I thought that was a very slow burn romance. And then I read this one and that one looks like erotica compared to it. But you just wanted it a little bit more. I know, it’s not the whole point of the story. But if you’re gonna throw it in there, I just want to see a little bit more connection so that I’m really rooting for a couple by the time we’re done.

Conclusion

Overall, I really did enjoy this novel.

I thought that this storyline was good. I was interested in princess Askia. I really rooted for her character.

And I liked that, even though the pacing could be a little slow, it really worked for the story, given the context of this was more about her trying to achieve the goal of getting an army. So it wasn’t really about the action and fighting. That’s going to be the battle later on. And we got little snippets here or there that gave you those kernels that you wanted in times of slow dialogue, but I liked it.

I think it’s an interesting concept. And that ending Oh, man, the whole like last few chapters totally got me. You had the Emperor getting killed. You had the Queen getting killed. Iskander went all crazy with his babyness. And then you’ve got Askia, who gets captured at the end by Emperor Radovan, and she’s lost her magical abilities.

There’s just so much going on at the end. There’s no way that you can’t go and read the second book whenever that comes out. Because there’s just so much I want to know there’s so much and I think that’s really good that the author hooked me enough to want to continue reading that I want to learn more about these characters.

I really do want to see Princess Askia succeed and take the throne because what she showed in this novel makes me believe that she would be a good ruler and a hero, and that I would want to be part of her kingdom.


Well, that’s all I have to say for this book. That way, I don’t bore you with even further discussion. 

But, let me know if you read this book what you thought about it. Did you agree with some of the comments that I had? Or do you have your own commentary to add? I’d love to hear from you. 

You can find out more about my podcast at meltalksbooks.com. Or you can find me on Instagram @meltalksbookspodcast . Please check it out and continue this conversation with me because it’s a little weird just talking to myself.

Either way. Thank you all so much, again for listening. I hope you have a great day and I will see you all next week. Bye. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai