Nightblood: The Frostblood Saga, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Nightblood: The Frostblood Saga, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Lovers' quarrels stifle this dark fantasy finale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The mythology in this saga is based on gods representing the four winds, which is present in many world mythologies. And Frost Giants looking over the castle are also present in Norse mythology. Readers can compare the stories the author presents with real-world myths.

Positive Messages

Like the first two books, there's much about overcoming darkness/evil, no matter how difficult, and choosing light/good. Power is an intoxicating temptation here, shown to corrupt and harden hearts against suffering. In this book, prejudice is set aside to save the world from evil.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ruby fights against a dark force residing inside her that tempts her with an ultimate and violent power. Her shame causes her to hide her struggles from others until she can't control it. Arcus is always admonishing Ruby for following her instincts and not telling him what she plans to do. Ruby spends most of the time worried that Arcus will be mad at her for something or other -- not a positive pattern in a relationship. He's also a little possessive.

Violence

Battles and skirmishes with magical fire and ice, weapons like arrows and swords. They lead to many injuries, deaths on land and at sea, with ships sinking. A character close to the main character dies. Characters under possession from a dark spirit turn on their fellow soldiers, throw themselves overboard on ships. A town lets non-magical people nearly starve. Talk of past assassinations in kingdoms and the murder of the main character's mother by soldiers.

Sex

Much kissing, groping; a naked bathing scene that stays pretty tame. Talk of brothels and a woman going into a man's cabin on a ship late at night for a tryst. Two women kiss.

Language

"Damn" comes up about a dozen times.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A monk drinks spirits when he gets bad news. Pirates drink wine and ale and smoke cheroot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nightblood is the third romantic fantasy book in the Frostblood Saga. Normally Frostbloods -- those who can wield ice -- and Firebloods -- fire wielders -- are enemies, but they fight a common enemy here. The vengeful god Eurus is bent on controlling the world with dark spirits. So there's much about overcoming evil in this series finale, and a lot of fighting evil with magical fire and ice. Battles and skirmishes end in many deaths, but with little described in detail. A character close to the main character dies. Many injuries are healed with magical intervention. There's some drinking by a monk and pirates, and a lot of kissing and groping and a naked bathing scene in a hot spring that doesn't get too steamy. Be ready to discuss the relationship between Ruby and Arcus. Ruby may be a strong female hero who follows her instincts, but she spends a lot of time worrying that her actions will make her kingly boyfriend mad. Arcus does indeed get mad and a little possessive.

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What's the story?

In NIGHTBLOOD, Ruby, King Arcus, Prince Kai, and a contingent of Fireblood Masters sail back to the Frost Court for reinforcements. With the Fireblood Queen's blessing, Fireblood and Frostblood will fight together against the trickster god Eurus and his mind-controlling Minax demons. All they need are more powerful Frostbloods and the translation of a sacred text to find Eurus' secret island. When they pull into port, they realize the first task isn't that simple. In Arcus' short absence, some of the court has turned against him. Ruby decides that the only way to convince them that the Minax is a serious threat is to show what it can do. In a gathering of nobility, she unleashes a Minax that clings to her and lets it infect their minds. It's effective and convincing -- until the Minax decides it's the one in control, not Ruby. Arcus arrives in time to save the court, but after what they saw, will they be willing to help the Firebloods?

Is it any good?

A romantic storyline usurps the fantasy power of this finale with a vengeful god, fire- and frost-wielding mortals, and mind-control demons. If you stir the pot with just these fantasy elements, there's a chance to overdo. Especially when there are also prisoners to rescue and armadas giving chase and two cults to keep track of -- one that wants only Frostbloods to survive, one that wants no one at all to have magic. Sounds exciting. It is exciting, but it could have been executed much better if the scenes of lovers' quarrels didn't dominate.

Ruby and Arcus are already paired up by Nightblood, and still they fill chapters with petty fights about whether Ruby still likes Prince Kai or whether Arcus is mad at Ruby for her simply following her instincts. This is wasted space that could have been better used to explore the fantasy elements and set up the finale in a more dynamic way. Things wrap nicely in the end but could have been executed with more care.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the relationships in Nightblood. What do Arcus and Ruby argue about? Why is Ruby always worried Arcus will be mad at her?

  • How does the mythology in this fantasy world compare with other mythologies you've read about? In what ways is it similar to Norse mythology? 

  • Do you like how this series ends? Would you like more beyond the trilogy, even though much is wrapped up here?

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