Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that is left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.
All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.
The king’s soldiers are rough, bloodthirsty and tend to set everything ablaze. Ruby is treated roughly by them, her mother killed, and she’s imprisoned. The abbey’s church is set on fire and almost results in a death. The abbey is attacked and pillaged as the soldiers seek out Ruby.
Characters and animals alike are thrown into an arena to ‘kill or be killed’. A beast is melted from the inside/out. One of the contestants plays with his opponents, like shallowly cutting Ruby’s eyelids and cutting her finger.
The true king organises a full-scale revolt which is a bloody affair. Frost and fire come to battle, injuring characters. The darkness (see below) kills the evil king.
There’s descriptions of the state the country is in- people are starving, being conscripted and dying. In a mythological legend, men kill anyway they can think of. A failed assassination attempt is brought up.
There’s a darkness that is alive. (Could be seen as a demon, but it’s not called that). It seeps into Ruby, giving her extraordinary power, absorbing her pain and hurt, and allowing her to kill with no regret. It numbs her out, making her bloodthirsty and fueling her revenge. In order to win, she is told that “To be filled with light you need to make a choice. Choose to forgive… Choose to love.”
And that’s what she does.
Ruby remembers her first kiss. She gradually develops a friendship (and more) with Arcus, and they kiss several times. When in the palace, the king kisses her (on the mouth and neck), which she returns at first, before running. She’s conflicted, being both repulsed and enjoying it (much like her apparent want for power and the darkness [see above]).
A threat included, “I will burn you so bad even your mistress will scream in terror.” In a legend told, a goddess fell in love with a man. Mentions of mistresses and a brief mention of nobles spending the night with warriors. Speculation of Ruby’s relationships with the king and with Arcus. A soldier, although married, remarks that he enjoys gambling and brothels.
Soldiers drink ale, nobles drink wine. Herbs are used for healing.
Ruby disobeys her mother when she practices her gift.
The king is a cruel, terrible king, who thirsts only for power and darkness. (Although, it is speculated that the darkness corrupts the kings.) They seek to overthrow him, starting a revolt.
Characters swear by their gods; ‘gods!’, ‘by Fors’ and ‘by Tempes’. One b*stard and Ruby calls her ankle a d*mned ankle.
The Frost and Fire gifts were the gods feeling lonely or jealous. At least, that’s how the detailed legend goes…
Much of the book takes place in an abbey with a church, regular prayers and both male and female monks. They worship gods and goddesses, who are talked to and about, regaled about and sworn by.
A nunnery is mentioned.
Overall feel: The throne finds its power in the ‘fiery’ emotions; passion, hate, a thirst for blood and revenge. Those emotions describe Ruby’s experience in the palace…. and our experience for half the book.
Ruby wrestles with her want for revenge and her temptation when limitless power is offered to her. She struggles with choosing the light (love and forgiveness) or embracing the darkness (revenge and power). The more she kills in the arena, the more she realises she’s losing herself. And she finds herself choosing to find the light.
“There is always light in shadow. It may only be a pinpoint, but it is there. Follow it and you will find your way free.”