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.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.
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.
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