Ice Like Fire takes place 3 months since Meira broke her and what's left of her home out of jail, like I said, and killed Commander Heron and the main villain Angra. Or did she? As they are rebuilding though, there's tension because Winter strives on shares between them and Cordwall, the home of Prince Theron, the man who was betrothed to Meira when they first met but fell in love with her anyway. Meira loves him too, but this causes a tough truth-seeking for her and King Mather, who is an original Winterian and has been Meira's best friend since babyhood. And the ruler of Cordwall, Noam, is threatening to take over and has the army to do so. What's worse, Meira found a strange door that speaks to her and gives her nightmares, and this door could lead to mass decay or a mass refill of life everywhere, and when people discover this, some think it should stay closed while others want to do the risk, and Meira is off on a race against time to maintain peace between Winter and her brutal world while Mather is doing his best to keep his home the home it's trying to rebecome.
The first book was Meira as a warrior and bride. This one has her as the queen of her ravaged and in-reborn-development land. I was worried that like Unravel Me and Siege and Storm the book would become boring and isolated, but the adventure stays if even improves. Ice Like Fire is also filled with guessing games for Meira and us, and they are all lots of fun. Most of the YA books that involve a lot of travel if you ask me spend too much time on the road and talking about whatever gender they're attracted to and have a big showdown at that one destination. Ice Like Fire is different. It has a lot to explore and a lot to debate, while Meira not just has to choose her feelings but also choose who to actually trust. I know you've probably heard the distrust thing millions of times, but it works here because not everyone on the good side is on the same page.
Reading this I was kind of surprised at how much it tones down the action, though. In the first book, it had Meira stealing the chakram in a mission they'd prepared for weeks beforehand and battling Heron in a sewer with swords clashing, and shortly after a big invasion. This one sets up the big mission and is more of a drama than an action book. But I was also surprised how I was still enjoying it, and as it was going along, how I was beginning to think this was even better than its predecessor.
I loved the inclusion of Mather as a side character. He and Meira split the book a bit but both stories felt equally important. Mather and Sir have a disagreement that felt to me like I was witnessing two of my best friends now never wanting to speak again and it was wrenching. Sara Raasch manages to cause Sir to say some strict and vehement orders that are so strong we know what it would feel like to give up in front of him and do as he orders. Mather's retaliations made me gulp. They're really hard-hitting. What's also hard-hitting is how there's going to be one more book, and I'm sure it's going to be nice.