Sunday, January 29, 2012

Icefall by Matthew Kirby

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby is the story of a Viking princess, Solveig, who is sent, with her sister and brother, to a remote hiding place while her father fights a war. Solveig is neither beautiful like her sister, nor valuable to her father like her brother the crown prince. She is trying to find her place in the world, while feeling like a prisoner in many ways. While hiding at their remote hall, many of her father's soldiers sent to guard Solveig and her siblings are poisoned. It seems there is a traitor in their midst -- but who will Solveig suspect? One of her beloved siblings? A servant who has been with the family for years? Her father's most trusted warrior? The guard captain who has always treated her with kindness and respect? The skald (storyteller) who has just begun to teach her his craft? As hardships mount up and word from the king seems slow in coming, will tensions and suspicions tear the little group of survivors apart -- or will some outside force destroy them?

I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that, for some reason, I was expecting fantasy (which it's not). Kirby really does a good job making Solveig's world real to the reader, and the characters all had strengths and weaknesses, so that there wasn't an obvious villain. I did think the pacing was a little bit slow in places, but not enough to really interfere with my enjoyment of the book. If you're interested in Nordic culture and enjoy books like Jonathan Stroud's Heroes of the Valley or Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls, you should definitely read this book.

(Review copy borrowed through my library system.) 

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