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.
“Be careful when you go hunting for the truth. It’s rarely what you expect.”
Eira is a Sorceress, particularly a Waterrunner. She studies alongside her older brother Marcus at the Tower of Sorcerers. But, while her brother is talented and adored by everyone. She’s an outcast whose only friend is Alyss, a Groundbreaker.
“I saw your brother come by, so I knew you wouldn’t be far behind.” Marcus’s shadow. That was all she ever was. Even Alyss, her best and truest friend, knew it.
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Eira hears voices, and probably killing someone 3 years ago didn’t help much either.
Anyway, she was an outcast under her brother’s eternal care. Which was bad enough, but made so much worse by Marcus’s best friend, Cullen, a lord and the first Windwalker after the Empress. He was literally known as “The Prince of the Tower”.
Eira has a chance to change her life when the Tournament of Five Kingdoms is announced. Friendly game to be in Meru, the elven kingdom that was discovered not long ago and completely obsesses Eira. She is willing to show her potential and earn her place on that journey. Even if it means disappointing her family and making changes that she might later regret. Furthermore, a certain elf ambassador has given Eira even more reasons for wanting to go to Meru. But winning the trials may be the least of her problems…
Should she go with him? She could already hear Alyss saying no. Even if the elfin were friends of Solaris and he was clearly a nobleman, she should definitely not sneak off into the night following a stranger. So, of course, Eira did.
Do you want my honest opinion? Here’s my honest opinion…
This is the first book from Elise that I read, but I knew her fame. I can’t understand how such a sweet person enjoys hurting us so much 💔.
When the trials are announced, her whole family tries to clarify that she must support her brother and not compete. The truth is that Eira complains all the time, but I did not find it unpleasant. I feel like she was right about everything, and it’s very sad to see that no one but Alyss understands her.
“I am my own person. I don’t just jump when asked and I won’t neatly exist only where and how you or anyone else wants me to.”
Marcus is an excellent older brother and they both love each other, but he also does not realize the damage done to her by “protecting” her. In truth, her parents go too far and I find it hard to believe that they did everything for her.
His gaze swept to hers and Marcus gave her a small nod, one Eira returned. To him, it was likely a gesture of a plan they both knew. For Eira, it said, Let the games begin.
As for Cullen, I super hated him at first. It was horribly disgusting as well as cocky. However, it turns out that Cullen only acted like that to her in response to how she treated him. And now I love him 💖.
“It’s admirable,” he said, finally. Eira noticed he didn’t immediately withdraw or flinch from her touch. “To be so passionate about something. To not care what anyone else thinks of that passion.”
Eira laughed softly. “It’s not that I don’t care what they think. It’s that I can’t care. It hurts too much when I do. It’s easier to encase myself in—”
“Walls. So they never see the real you. If they don’t really know you, then they can’t really hurt you.” She had been going to say ice, but… “Yes.”
There is a small love triangle. Small because Eira is not interested in opening her heart at first, and I pride myself (and surprised myself 🤣) to say that for the first time I was not Team Elf. You can imagine how interesting Cullen is… Although I just remembered that he is a lord, so maybe I am not so surprised of myself 😅.
This is a magic academy book, full of dark secrets and mistakes. It also has slow-burn romance, loyal friendship, and complicated family relationships. And, of course, magical trials.
Eira is forced to go on a journey of self-discovery when her world is destroyed. For the first time in her life, she will have the opportunity to prove herself and unleash her true powers.
She was the one in charge of her own destiny; and, now that she knew this feeling, Eira would never let anyone take it from her again.
The book has excellent world building, vivid emotions. The trials to decide the representatives of the Tower were quite interesting and original. Although I can’t help the Harry Potter vibes, particularly The Goblet of Fire for the trials and The Half-Blood Prince for a mysterious book of dark magic 🤫. Also, I really like the magic system, it’s elemental, but the abilities that each element has have very interesting twists.
“No…the cold won’t kill me.” It hadn’t claimed her when she was a baby, it wouldn’t now. It had been a part of her for her whole life. It was the only thing she knew she could trust to be real.
I knew I would like Elise’s books, but I hadn’t had a chance to read one before. The moment this book was announced, I knew it was made for me, so I moved land, sea and sky to get an ARC and it worked! I devoured it and didn’t even realize when I finished, I should have read it slower to be able to stay longer in Solaris, but at least now I have the Air Awakens series in the same world.
Honestly, I loved this book, and Elise joins my favorite authors where I knew she would belong.
I will leave here a small summary of the special abilities of each type of Sorcerer (mainly because I know that when the second book comes out I will not remember any of this 😂):
- They control the water.
- They can create “vessels”. In a bowl with water and a token in the center they are able to record the words of a person. They use this skill in the West Clinic to record the voice of dying patients in case they don’t have time to talk to their families. The voices Eira hears are actually accidental Vessels that have been created in time.
- Illusions. They can control the water in the room and reflect light at will, creating visual illusions.
- They also control the ice.
- Their powers make it difficult for them to drown, as their magic automatically protects them and creates an air bubble, but eventually the magic is depleted or the air in the bubble may be depleted.
- Groundbreakers (Earth):
- They control the earth.
- They can easily write on stone 🤷♀️.
- They create and control fire.
- They make the name plates for the student’s rooms as practice when they enter the Tower 🤣.
- Fire does not harm them, unless it is magical fire created by a more powerful Firebearer.
- Some have the ability to see the future.
- Windwalker (Air):
- They control the wind.
- It is the rarest affinity and it was believed extinct until Empress Vhalla (Air Awakens, there I go).
Bye bye 💕