Yaay! I finally finished my first book of the summer.
I had actually stolen this book from my younger sister about 4 years ago, read the first 10 pages, then never finished it. It’s been on my shelf ever since then and taunting me, so I finally decided to read it.
And, there is a reason this easy, 400 page YA fantasy-adventure took two and half weeks to finish!
Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill is about Thirrin, Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield, the 14-year-old crown princess of the cold, snowy, war-like country of Icemark (think Viking culture in the Scandinavian Peninsula). To the north, is the Land of Ghosts, ruled by the Vampire King and Queen, sworn enemies of the Icemark. Werewolf bands roam the lands, as well. To the south, is the dangerous, rational, technicological, ever-growing empire of Polypontia (think like if the Roman Empire had access to muskets and cannons). The Polypontian Empire invades Icemark and kills the king in battle. It is now up to Thirrin to create alliances with the White Witches, Vampires, Snow Leopards, Tree-folk, and WereWolves to save her small kingdom.
It is a very interesting premise, and I like how Hill pulls Scandinavian myth, Roman history, and even the myth of the Amazon warriors into this novel. However, I had to drag myself through the novel because Hill cannot write to save his life! It felt like a teenager was writing this book. The protagonist is barely 14, yet has the attitude, knowledge, and stamina of at least a 17 year old. A lot of the dialogue was forced, characters didn’t stay true to themselves, events were very predictable. It really was the dialogue that killed me. Oh, my, gosh!
The last 150 pages of the 470 page novel focused on the final battle. But, there were only two fronts: Icemark and Polypontia. Now, I know that Tolkein (Lord of the Rings) and Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time) spends just as much time on battles, but they break up their bands so there are numerous, numerous characters at different parts of the battle that the author focuses on. Hill writes the battle with almost an omniscient third-person, so it’s as if we are watching the battle from a distance rather than being in the battle.
There is a sequel, as it is a series, but it takes place 17 years later and focuses on Thirrin and her husband, Oskan, whom she meets in the first book, and their 5 children. (And the romance between the 14 and 15 year old children is almost non-existent in the first book!) I’m not going to read it. I’m glad I’m done with the book and can finally return it to my sister. If she doesn’t want it, it’s going on my classroom’s bookshelf. Who knows? Maybe my 7th and 8th graders will enjoy it more than I did.
I give it 1.5 out of 5 stars!