Frostfire by Amanda Hocking

Frostfire by Amanda Hocking(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.

Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.

But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

[Full disclosure: I asked for and received a free ebook copy from Amanda Hocking’s publicist after I realized I had been approved for the second book on NetGalley without reading the first.  This is, as always, an honest review.]

One of the things that really intrigued me in the Trylle series was the trackers.  More specifically, why the lowborn trolls with few talents would ever want to protect the rich and ungrateful nobles of their world and bring back their changeling offspring.  What drives them to become trackers when they could probably quite easily assimilate into the human world?  And what about the inner workings of tracking?  How does one go about it?  What’s a good success rate?  What is the training like?  These weren’t questions that made the ending of the Trylle series unsatisfying but they did leave Amanda Hocking a lot more room for expansion, which is how this spin-off series came about.

If you’re expecting to see lots of the characters from the original trilogy, you’ll probably be disappointed.  We meet Flinn briefly and there are mentions of the reforms of Loki and Wendy in their tribe but they don’t feature at all.  Instead, we focus on the Kanin tribe of trolls which are of course the same species but have a very different culture while keeping the same essential troll traits: changeling children and a ridiculously rigid societal hierarchy.  Trackers are employed to find changeling children once they come of age and yet they’re still looked down upon.  The only real difference in Kanin society is that there’s an elite group of trackers called the Hogdragen that guard the royal family specifically.  It’s a great honour to become one and that’s really where our story begins.

Bryn wants nothing more than to become a member of the Hogdragen.  She always has to work extra hard to prove she’s worthy not only because she’s a female tracker (and that’s exceptionally rare) but also because she’s half Skojare, a more water-loving breed of troll.  Even amongst the lowly trackers there’s a hierarchy and half-breeds are definitely at the low end of it, even if her parents were both high-ranking members of society who gave up the titles of Markis and Marksinna out of love.  When the tracker she admires, Konstantin, tries to kill her father the Chancellor quite randomly and then disappears.  Several years later, Bryn meets Konstantin while out to bring back another changeling.  He’s not quite the villain she always thought he was but she’s still hungry for vengeance.  And that’s really what I love about her character: even when she is attracted to someone she doesn’t let it get in the way of her mission.  Yes, she does start to doubt whether or not Konstantin is the awful traitor that everyone (including her) thinks he is, but that’s because she’s never blind to reason and she’s very good at reading people.  Konstantin is ambiguous, not evil and it’s really that mystery about him that sets the events of the story in motion.

What I really loved about Bryn as a female lead is that she’s capable of lying and of actually keeping her mouth shut.  Sometimes her emotions overrule her but in general she actually keeps her mouth in check when it’s necessary.  No popping off state secrets willy-nilly or anything like that, as some YA heroines seem to do with alarming regularity.  She’s so focused on being professional that even when she’s attracted to her boss Ridley she tries her best to keep things platonic.  Of course it doesn’t always work but she recognizes that any relationship between them would be stupid and improper and so she really does struggle to keep her feelings in check.  What a novel, mature idea!  She actually acts like she’s a 19 year old, not a 13 year old.

The pacing isn’t always the most fast-paced but in general the intrigue within the different courts and between different people is more than enough to make you keep turning the pages.  And when there’s not intrigue, there’s plenty of action.  Although Frostfire isn’t constantly exciting in an action movie way, it is always interesting.  So much so that this “I’ll just read a couple of chapters” book became a one-sitting book.  At just over 300 pages it’s not a particularly long book but it suits Amanda Hocking’s relatively fast pace quite well.  When you think about it, she does pack a lot into this little book and the cliffhanger at the ending is satisfying but definitely leaves you wanting the next book, Ice Kissed.

Even if you haven’t read the Trylle trilogy, you will enjoy Frostfire if you’re intrigued by the blurb or this review.  I’m not a big fan of some of Amanda Hocking’s other series, but when it comes to trolls she’s definitely a master.  She’s clearly put quite a bit of effort into world-building and that really shows in the Kanin Chronicles even more so than it does in the Trylle series.  I really can’t wait to see what happens when Bryn encounters some of the other tribes of trolls in the second book.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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