Review: A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane

Where did you get the book: E Arc from the publisher

Publisher: Berkely 

Publication Date: Out now

Milla Vane returns to a world of kings, magic, and passion in her exhilarating A Gathering of Dragons series, as a great alliance forms to stand against an evil warlord intent on their destruction.

Danger lurks in the western realms. The Destroyer’s imminent return has sent the realms into turmoil as desperate citizens seek refuge—but there’s no safety to be found when demons and wraiths crawl out from the shadows. Even Koth, a northern island kingdom left untouched by the Destroyer a generation past, is besieged by terrors spawned from corrupt magics.

When Lizzan leads the Kothan army against these terrors, only to see her soldiers massacred and to emerge as the only survivor, she is called a coward and a deserter. Shunned from her home, Lizzan now wanders in solitude as a mercenary for hire, until she encounters a group of warriors seeking new alliances with the northern kingdoms—a group that includes Aerax, the bastard prince of Koth, and the man who sent her into exile.

Though they were childhood friends, Aerax cannot allow himself to be close to the only woman who might thwart his treacherous plan to save their island realm. But when a goddess’s demand binds them together, Lizzan and Aerax must find a way to overcome their painful pasts. Or there will be no future for the western realms…

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

A Touch of Stone and Snow is the second book in Milla Vane’s A Gathering of Dragons series. It’s set in a world where magical beings, barbarian warlords and even dinosaurs rule.  The Destroyer, an evil and destructive conqueror, is back and is threatening the world of The Western Realms and alliances are being forged to help battle this insidious threat. 

Lizzan is an exiled soldier is a warrior selling her services to protect travellers from bandits and other threats on the road. She tries to lose herself in alcohol to forget her past. She is bitter for being blamed for a dishonor that she isn’t responsible for but is even more hurt by being abandoned by her lover and friend, Aerax, who could have helped to save her honour.   However, even though she is exiled and is fleeing from her past, her path is crossed with Aerax who is also on a mission and both are forced to face their actions in the past as well as the greater threat that threatens their home kingdom of Koth. 

I love the worldbuilding that Milla Vane presents. It is one of the highlights of the series because it is so vivid and imaginative and the depth of detail sucks you right into this world that you can almost sense, feel and taste that she has created. The creatures that inhabit this world, especially like the wraiths, are eerie and chilling and add to the atmosphere to the story, along with the other beasts. But I especially loved the big cat Caeb who is Aerax’s pet although he is more like a companion  whose interactions are funny and entertaining. 

The romance between Aerax and Lizzan is more sweet in tone despite the fact she felt betrayed. Aerax’s devotion to Lizzan was steadfast and unflappable and their reconciliation was really sweet and delightful. I adored their banter which was witty and sparkling and it helped to balance the growing tone of darkness and emerging threat of The Destroyer. I also loved how well drawn and fleshed out the characters are and the supporting protagonists also add colour and chemistry to the story. 

A Touch of Stone and Snow is a fantastic installment in this series and it adds more insights and layers in the world of The Western Realms. The romance was engaging and enjoyable and while this book has a much quiet sweet tone compared to the first, the tension of the ongoing arc of the danger that The Destroyer presents, promises that the next book is going to be a humdinger of a confrontation. Milla Vane knows how to paint a world of magic, menace and imagination along with heartfelt romance and  I can’t wait for what is next up in store.

I give A Touch of Stone and Snow a B! 

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