Personal Rating: 10
There are too may great things to say about this book. The plot line is easy to follow yet complex enough to create sufficient depth. It's told through character headings as chapters. Which allows you to be pulled more into the world through the eyes of the characters then just being told what is happening. And it manages to have a secret second plot floating in the background that pics up steam at just the right pace to hit you at the end with that yearning to know where it will lead. Which of course means the ending is also brilliant.
The characters of each chapter heading were very clearly defined. What made them work is that they give the impression of being cliched, the typical warrior in love with the princess, the stubborn princess who has no time for the order of things loaded with i'm almost an adult teenage angst, the usually over cautious best friend of the princess who always takes the safe route. The evil villain bent on destruction at any cost, and of course the I'm evil but my king is just crazy and he'll kill us and the good guys if we don't over throw him general who refuses to accept this truth. However, none of them are really any of these things.
As the plot moves on all of the main characters hit a learning curve. They find out things about themselves and don't squirm away from the realities of it. Those who appear strong end up weak, those who seem weak turn out to have more strength than they knew, and those who thought they had a fair hand in life learn that they are not much different from others they thought less than them. Each character has a journey to go through that is very intricately interlocked with an opposing character.
The rules of each sect, the icers and the flames, are defined in a way that it doesn't come of as a history lesson. Things are learned as we need them. The hints as to what may be going on are calculated to their precise moments that you don't quite figure out where it's actually heading. And most importantly, the route most young adult fiction novels will take this one doesn't. It doesn't shy away from self sacrifice, making the tough decisions, and the glaring truth that in war heroes can die.
And it plays very well the issue of good versus bad when faced with total distraction. What the cost are of annihilating an entire race. And is blood ties actually thicker than water. Can one destroy their own brother or sister or cousin if they new they must in order to gain ultimate power.
In all this book had a clearly defined world. Characters who had their own individual journeys and equal importance in plot of the book. And the author does an excellent job of making you feel the characters and more importantly feel their love and or distaste for the other characters. There is no way you can read this and not get a full spectrum of the importance of why and the understanding of why each character does what they do.
And the ending was brilliant. It was intense yet subtle at the same time and answered with out actually answering what was going on with this sub plot line. And something as subtle as switching from italics to regular print alludes to the fact that this plot line wont be so sub in the next book.
I give this such a high rating because all the things I like in a novel, which is making me feel your characters so much I don't even want the bad guys to die, avoiding the cliches that these types of novels fall into so often, defining the rules of the different sects and explaining how they use their power in a clear and easy to understand way, and most importantly having excerpts or interludes (I am very touchy about these types of things) that when I get to the end I say, yes the book did need them. There is nothing worse than an author putting in these short inserts every couple of chapters and I think if I read the book without them it would be the same. That was not the case with this book.
This was a book that held everything I like about young adult novels with the complexity of the plots of the more adult fare which is what makes reading young adult or new adult so enjoyable. When it hits right in the middle it makes for some of the most fascinating reading you can have. This novel is for any fantasy reader that likes well thought out plots and characters, doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of war and moves at a pace that never bores or leaves you thinking, why why why. It was in one word, brilliant.
And as a side note, in my opinion the character to really watch is Larc. She by far impressed me the most, so much so that in the scene where she finally came into her own I didn't even think it was her. And that is as good as writing can get.
There was only one part in the book that really annoyed me. Which did nothing for my overall view of novel. The princess after having to regroup her citizens made a very good point about how the council works, and having to wait on decisions and so on and so forth. She was, as far as I can tell, absolutely correct but was made to feel like she wasn't. It just didn't quite make sense for her to have her moment to shine and be beat down, however, in retrospect it was probably brilliant because it didn't stick she sorted it out her own way, the right way, ultimately. Which goes with what I said about the learning curve, so although I wasn't thrilled about it, in theory it makes sense, but i still wish she would've told her friends to shut the hell up she wasn't there to make friends she was there to do what was best for her people. And they were either for here or against her. But maybe that's just cause I'm a hardass. Otherwise. No problems here.
"The tale of QaiMaj begins here . . .
Iskalon, a cavernous world of ice, and Chraun, a deep realm of lava, have been separated for generations by conflict and prejudice.
The youngest ice princess of Iskalon, Stasia, cares nothing for politics and war. She yearns for a place prophesied in her Dreams, a vast blue cavern lit by a golden globe and carpeted in green. Drawing magic from ice, she searches the dark, wild tunnels outside the underground kingdoms.
In Chraun, half-mad King Dynat marshals his powerful fire warriors. His orders: “Make Iskalon burn forever.”
His edict, and the destruction it brings, leaves Stasia the unwilling leader of a ragged bunch of refugees. Faced with impossible odds, she is bolstered by her love for her people and the loyalty of her remaining ice warriors. Her prophetic Dreams sustain her hope of finding a new home for Iskalon.
But before she can begin searching, Dynat forces Stasia to surrender and holds her captive in Chraun. When Stasia desperately searches for magic strength in the heart of the inferno, she learns that she can do the impossible—draw power from both lava and ice.
Fire and Ice are inseparable, she realizes. By pooling their power, she and Dynat might just find the vast blue cavern of her Dreams, and change the destiny of both their kingdoms forever . . ."
Selah J Tay-Song was born and lives in Washington State. She graduated from The Evergreen State College with a BAS major in biological sciences and a minor in creative writing. Selah wrote her first fantasy story about a unicorn when she was six years old. At age fourteen, she started writing a science fiction/ fantasy book. Since then she has drafted six books and many short stories. Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern, her debut novel, came out of an actual dream where she was crawling through narrow, dark stone tunnels, looking for something. Selah loves writing, and plans to keep doing it for the rest of her life.
Anyone who gets vissions in their dreams that lead to this much awesome is more than worth the purchase. So sayeth me. And as they say all is all. All will always be all. And that is all.