Temple of Ice by Christian CuraTemple of Ice by Christian Cura is a new adult, fantasy novel that will chill you to the bone with its frigid polar setting and horrific beastly battles, then warm your heart with the love that is shared between the best of friends and the love that is shared between two brave, young women. Set in the frozen lands of Khione, it is the tale of winter mage Tama, her best friends and fellow adepts Masou and Kachina, and an ages long battle between good and evil.

Long ago, the Khioni lived in a fertile valley under the protection of Tira, the mother goddess. The clans protected Tira’s tree of life from her jealous sister Malsumi who sought to corrupt the land, its creatures and its people. Malsumi’s talent for deception enabled her to trick the clans and destroy the tree turning the once fertile valley into a bleak and desolate wasteland. A great battle ensued between the sisters and Tira managed to imprison Malsumi in the corrupted tree where she lay to this day, awaiting her chance to escape and claim her revenge.

Tama, Masou and Kachina are adepts, soon to graduate from the temple and become full mages. Their final test is buried deep in the heart of Mount Orodani across the vast frozen land. The way is fraught with danger from the harsh elements to the corrupted creatures that seek to destroy them. They must rely on their training and on each other to survive. It is severe but necessary preparation for the trio, for an even greater danger awaits their return.

Pros And My Favourite Parts

I adore the way Cura so vividly portrays the fierce harshness of the book’s polar setting while simultaneously portraying its fierce beauty. I have always been mesmerized by polar landscapes and the beauty/beast contrast they encompass so this setting was an absolute joy for me.

The theology and magic system in the book were also super interesting and extremely well done. I had a wonderful time visualizing the scenes where the adepts practiced their kata. I also love the myriad of different creatures in this world and the idea of them being corrupted by Malsumi.

Cons And Heads Up

The book contains content that could be disturbing for some readers such as vivid scenes of gore and death, graphic battles between humans and corrupted animals, as well as the murder of children.

I feel like there are a few writing issues such as erratic pacing and deficiencies in character development that took away from the story a bit for me. I didn’t feel as invested in the characters as I like to be and more time on individual arcs would vastly improve my experience. However, overall, the setting and concept are so amazing that I still really enjoyed the book.

The Conclusion

Do you love all of the characteristics of high fantasy tales, but suffer commitment issues because of the time it takes to read them? If so, this will be the perfect book for you. It manages to squeeze an exquisitely crafted polar setting, a complex theology and related magic system, a large-scale morality war of good versus a truly evil villain deity, epic battles between humans and corrupted fantastical beasts, and a quest into a fast and furious read.

Excerpt from Temple of Ice by Christian Cura

“Let’s go,” Tama whispered.

She dashed through the lobby with Masou’s footfalls echoing close behind her.

The cold Arctic air blew through her dark tresses. She laughed as they ran down the icy steps.

“We’re gonna get into so much trouble,” Masou said.

“Oh, don’t worry about that! Lighten up,” Tama replied

She conjured a vertical tread of air which looped over her head and underneath her feet. Clouds of snow rose up on either side as she bolted up the street. Wind rippled through Tama’s clothing and dark locks of hair blew back from her face. Although her arms were bare, she neither shivered, nor did her teeth chatter. As a winter mage, the cold did not affect her like ordinary people.

Masou glided right next to her, his moth finally upturned in a grin. The soft contours of his face were outlined by the glow of the setting sun. Passerby dressed in fur coats cried out and dove aside, some of them cursing and shaking their fists. Tama just laughed. Within seconds their tirades faded into nothing.

A collage of domed buildings flew past them in a blur. They zoomed beneath an arching bridge, past homes and shops all molded from ice. Torches lit up the street, the flames wavering as Tama and Masou blazed through the city. Tama’s cheeks ached from the smile plastered on her face.

Once they were a few blocks from the temple, they zipped through an open gate and into an immense park. A field of white snow stretched before them with winding paths, stone benches and a small playground where children frolicked. To Tama’s left, was a frozen lake and to her right, was a hill which overlooked it all. In the blink of an eye, she and Masou crested the hill and dissolved their air treads. Tama formed a sled out of ice, got a running start, and threw herself prone upon the sled. She glided down the hill, the wind blowing in her face. Seconds later, Masou joined her at the bottom laughing as he jumped to his feet and turned to run back up the hill. But Tama was faster, overtaking him on a wedge of snow. The sky began to darken as they raced one another up and down the hill. Soon, the slope was covered in footprints and wide grooves.

Masou collapsed in the snow panting as his cheeks turned red. He gazed up at the evening sky and chuckled.

Tama sat beside him and leaned back on her hands. “See? Aren’t you glad you came out with me?”

“Yes Tama. You were right. I really needed to get out of the temple and do something.”

“Of course, I was. I have all the good ideas in our little group. If it wasn’t for me, you and Kachina would’ve died of boredom years ago.”

Kachina was the other adept at the winter mage temple. Tama had invited, then begged her to come along with them, but she had refused, insisting that she should stay at the temple and train.

“Speaking of whom, have you told her how you feel yet?” Masou asked.

She glanced at him and blushed. “I will, I will. I’m just… waiting for the right moment.”

The young man sat up. “That’s what you’ve been saying for the past four years! Just do it, Tama. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“She rejects me, and I walk away heartbroken,” Tama answered.

“Maybe. But you’ll regret it more if—“

“You never say anything,” she finished.

Masou was about to say something, when the air around his body condensed and froze into a ring of ice that crushed his arms to his sides.

Tama barely had time to gasp before she too, was bound. She grimaced at the pressure squeezing her rib cage.

Both of them were lifted to their feet right before another ring of ice fastened their ankles together. Slowly, they were spun around to face the entrance to the park.

Maximillian, the headmaster of the winter mage temple sped towards them on a wheel of air. With a burst of wind he walked up to them, his face fixed in a frown. His blue eyes were as cold as winter itself. A ruffled mane of golden hair sprouted from his head and a trimmed beard covered the lower half of his face. He wore a white tunic over his broad shoulders and leather boots on his feet.

Maximillian approached Tama with his hands clasped behind his back. “Thought you could skip out on your training did you?”

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