Saturday, January 02, 2010

Ice Land


Ice Land by Betsy Tobin. 2008/2009. Penguin. 368 pages.

When I was sixteen, I was given a cloak made entirely of feathers.

Did I enjoy this one?! I did! It's a complex story--at times--a historical fantasy with gods (the Aesir), giants, dwarfs, and humans living messy (and sometimes intertwined) lives. But it's a beautiful story as well. It is set in Iceland (circa 1000 AD), and it is the story of love in all its messy glory.

It left me a bit speechless. Not many books do.

From the back cover:

Warned by the fates of an impending disaster, Freya embarks on a dangerous journey deep into the mountains to find a magnificent gold necklace said to have the power to alter the course of history. Meanwhile, the country is on the brink of war as the new world order of Christianity threatens the old ways of Iceland's people, and tangled amid it all are two star-crossed lovers whose destiny draws them together--even as their families are determined to tear them apart.

Infused with the rich history and mythology of Iceland, Betsy Tobin's sweeping novel is an epic adventure of forbidden love, lust, jealousy, faith, and magical wonder set under the shadow of a smoldering volcano.
They got it right! You know how sometimes the way a book's description can be so misleading, and so not-the-book-you-get? Well, this one really is as good as they make it out to be.

Fulla, a young maiden, is unhappy. Her grandfather (her only remaining family) wants her to get married. He wants to do the choosing of course. What does she know of such things? Of what makes a marriage work? What makes a marriage strong? How could she--such a young thing--know about love and matters of the heart? How can she know her own mind? So says her grandfather, Hogni, in any case.

Who would she choose if she had her way? Does she dare speak it even to herself? When such a choice is oh-so-obviously forbidden? It's Vili. A young boy from a rival family. The son of the man who killed Fulla's father.

This isn't Fulla's story alone. It's also the story of the goddess, Freya. The goddess of love who is a bit unlucky when it comes to her own heart, her own affairs. Freya has worries of her own. Worries for her people, worries for Iceland itself. She's heard prophecies, seen signs, enough to lead her on a quest for what could be salvation. Her search for a remarkable gold necklace, a necklace made by the dwarfs, what would she do to obtain it, to make it hers? Will it change her destiny?!

So many different characters...so many stories intertwined...all beautifully and wonderfully done. A great, great story. Very compelling and oh-so-fascinating. Definitely recommended. It would be oh-so-perfect for Carl's Once Upon A Time reading challenge this spring. If you can wait that long. I couldn't. I'm weak.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

11 comments:

Kailana 6:43 PM  

This book looks good!

She 9:21 PM  

This looks amazing! I love both of the covers as well.

Ash 12:52 AM  

Definitely looks like a good read! If it left you speechless it must be good.

kay - Infinite Shelf 3:41 AM  

Wow, this book does sound great! I had seen it but hadn't read about it : I think I'll have to add it to my TBR list, it sounds captivating!

DesLily 6:24 AM  

ok ok.. it went on the wish list!

Book Dilettante 8:28 AM  

Iceland is a hot topic right now. I just reviewed The Tricking of Freya, a novel of Iceland and its people. Really enjoyed it. This books also looks very good.

Amy 10:22 AM  

Sounds like a great book! Love the covers.

Ladybug 10:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ladybug 10:34 AM  

I'm not sure if I ought to say thank you for this great review, Becky. Almost every time I visit your blog my wishlist grows longer LOL. This time was no exception, the book sounds really good =D

samantha.1020 8:19 PM  

This sounds like a wonderful read and one that I hadn't heard of yet. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

Mr. Nick Matyas 5:10 AM  

I am impressed.

really this is a good posting.


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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

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I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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