Book three of the Vampire Academy Series
After an attack on St. Vladimir’s academy, the entire school headed to an exclusive resort for the holidays. While there, a bunch of Rose Hathaway’s friends sneaked out to go capture Strigoi in Spokane, and Rose went after them. She managed to save most of her friends, except Mason. Afterwards, her teacher Dimitri told her he had accepted that he would always love her.
Rose is set to take trials at being a Guardian within St. Vladimir’s Academy. The trials consist of Dhampir novice Guardians shadowing selected Moroi, and “protecting” them if one of their teachers attacks them while faking as Strigoi. She fully expects to be assigned to Lissa because of their bond and also because everyone knows that is how things should be. Rose is outraged when she is assigned to look after Christian Ozera, Lissa’s boyfriend. Eddie gets to guard Lissa, and while she knows that he will do a very good job, she is peeved that they would actually separate her from her best friend. Dimitri chastises her and she finally acknowledges that it might be a good idea.
As an aftermath to the bloodshed she witness the past year, and a side effect of being shadow-kissed, Rose has developed the scary ability to see ghosts. Initially, she doesn’t know this, and thinks she is going crazy when she sees Mason’s ghost in the school. She learns that the magical wards that surround the school is supposed to block ghosts and Strigoi, but everyone tells her the wards are maintained and in perfect order.
Rose learns that Victor Dashkov, the man who had tortured Lissa, is set for trial. Dimitri tells her that she and Lissa aren’t allowed to attend, and she is furious with him. Adrian Ivashkov, a Moroi royal, manages to get them to attend to impress Rose, making Dimitri feel useless as he really tried his best.
At the Moroi Royal Court, the queen summons Rose and tells her to stay away from her great-nephew, Adrian. She makes it clear that she won’t allow the relationship, not listening when Rose says that she truly isn’t interested in Adrian. Rose receives a threatening message from Victor Dashkov, with some hints that he might out her and Dimitri’s forbidden love. She goes to Dimitri, and they visit him together. They discuss the matter, and even though Victor still taunts them, Dimitri says he is confident that their secret won’t come out. Victor is eventually sentenced to life imprisonment, and locked away.
Rose continues to have headaches whenever she is not in school or the Academy. Every time it seems like there are ghosts are around her, waiting for her attention. Meanwhile, she is messing up her Guardian tests, because she sees Mason every time she is supposed to fight. It is only because of Dimitri’s vote of confidence that she is allowed to continue, and she is ordered to do only half day guarding after she tells her teachers about the ghosts and they think her stressful life is catching up to her.
Rose notices that there are many kids with bruises at the school who won’t confess who is hurting them. She investigates, and learns that it is a secret club started by elite Moroi who tries to force their friends into using compulsion – something that is forbidden in their world. The group tries to recruit Lissa and Christian too, but they laugh it off.
Rose finally gets to prove herself when Dimitiri attacks her and Lissa, faking as a Strigoi. It is a close fight, but she wins, impressing her teachers and friends alike. After that she realizes that Lissa is under attack from the compulsion group, and rushes to her aid. She helps her friend, but takes some of Lissa’s Spirit-induced darkness and starts attacking the group. She is restrained by Dimitri and taken to a cabin away from the guilty so that she can calm down. Finally, their resolve falters and after a year of restraint they make love. Upon returning to the school grounds, Rose sees Mason, and shortly afterwards she sees the Strigoi that Mason had pointed out.
With the evil vampires on school ground, Rose hurries back on Dimitri’s orders and alert the Guardians. They go into full scale attack, and when Rose finds Christian on the school ground, they combine their skills and kill many Strigoi together. The living Strigoi flees campus before sunrise, and Dimitri tells Rose that they took Dhampirs and Moroi captive.
After debating the pros and cons, the Guardians decide to stage a rescue mission. They head out to the caves where they know the Strigoi are hiding, and rescue the captives. Rose sees Dimitri get trapped, but is pulled to safety. At school, Rose hears something that makes her world crash – That Dimitri had been turned into a Strigoi. Her only choice now is to hunt him down and kill him, as they promised each other they would. But will she find him and come out alive?
After Frostbite, this book seems so well done. Things relevant to the storyline actually happen here, and the events aren’t too stretched out. I applauded Rose and Dimitri for finally getting together and his decision to just accept his feelings and work with it instead of the denial that had tormented him. Turning him into a Strigoi was a great idea, and I was floored that Richelle Mead actually had the nerve to do it. Without knowing what happened in the rest of the series made me sad for their lost love so short after their acceptance of it, but reading onwards it became clear that a great plan was in the works for the series.
This is definitely one of the better books in the series, and quite enjoyable.