Book Review : Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
Solveig, and her siblings, Asa and Harald, have been whisked away to a remote fortress surrounded by mountains, a glacier and water that becomes impassable as winter comes. Their father, the King, is fighting a war. News of the conflict is very slow in coming to the fortress, and the small band of people are becoming nervous as their food supply dwindles. Concerned for his son, the crown prince, and his oldest daughter, Asa, the King has sent his elite warriors, the berserkers, to this isolated post along with more provisions. As winter reaches deeper into the small camp they face the most fearsome enemy, the one they are trapped with because of the ice, a traitor within their own ranks. With the cows gone and the attack of poison the question remains, will they survive and will the Kingdom survive?
Adult Point of View
I found this to be a well crafted and enjoyable read. Kirby has set the story in a Nordic medieval time period. I loved the simplified Norse mythology which had the cadence I would imagine the bards of the time would have used. I also liked it when Solveig states that she can imagine the fear the people in Ireland must feel when they see the dragon crested ships coming to attack their lands, as she feels the same fear looking at the ship.
Solveig is the middle child, and vastly under-appreciated. She is not the heir, she is not beautiful to help with an advantageous marriage, she is worthless in her father’s eyes. Not only does the king believe she is worthless, she believes it herself. The skald, or bard, recognizes that she has a rare talent to tell stories. Ole, the thrall, or slave, notices that she has an uncommon kindness for others and animals. Even the leader of the berserkers, Hake, can see that Solveig is growing into an amazing young woman. I said this was a coming of age novel because Solveig goes through a transformation as she questions who she is and comes to believe in herself. When she finally does receive her father’s approval she acknowledges that she has always sought this, and yet, at the same time realizes that his approval is no longer as important as is used to be as a validation. She is ready to stand on her own two feet. Solveig is headstrong, clever, compassionate, talented, brave and forgiving. The other characters were also well developed and distinct in their personalities. Hake was another one of my favorites because of they way he grew and changed over time. I’m not going to tell you who the traitor was, but I will suggest that you should follow your instincts and reasoning skills as you deduce who was the guilty party.
Icefall is violent with many characters dying because of poison, warfare and a terrible flood, though not overly graphic. Because of the complexity I think kids in Jr. High would enjoy it, however, some upper-elementary age kids will also find it to be a rewarding read. I believe that Icefall, will be a cross-over novel, being interesting to both boys and girls even though the protagonist is female. I will definitely look for future novel written by Matthew Kirby.
3.5 out of 5 stars
– the Mother
Teen Point of View
I thought this book was very unique and interesting. I loved the style of writing and thought the characters were very well made. The style of writing was extremely well written and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s story line was very unique, and I’ve never read anything quite like it. I loved the characters and the suspense created in the story. I think it is fine for kids 10 and up.
3.5 out of 5
– the Daughter