Author: Stuart Hill
Series: The Icemark Chronicles
How Received: bought
The Icemark is a kingdom in grave danger. Its king has been killed in battle, its enemy lies in wait, and its fate rests on the shoulders of one girl. Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield, a beautiful princess and an intrepid warrior, must find a way to protect her land from a terrible invasion. She will forge an extraordinary alliance of noble Snow Leopards, ancient Vampires, and ferocious Wolf-folk. She will find unexpected strength in her friendship with a young warlock. And she will lead her allies to victory with her fierce battle cry: "Blood! Blast! And Fire!"
Here's the thing about this book: I adored the plot and world. I understand why it had been recommended to me by a friend of mine. I loved how the Snow Leapoards and vampires and werewolves all interacted. (It was nice to see them in a fantasy setting and not the paranormal one I'm used to.) I loved watching Thirrin kick some ass and take some names and lead the Icemark army to victory.
But two things really caught me up.
The first, of course, is Thirrin's age. Thirrin's father dies in the beginning of the book and she takes over. She's fourteen. Fourteen. If she had been seventeen or eighteen, I might have been able to take it more seriously, but cultural tendencies or not, Thirrin just didn't have the experience to lead an army or to really earn respect form the other cultures. The story forced it to happen; it didn't feel natural. I spent the entire story pretending she was 18, which made the story much more enjoyable, but within the story itself, it really took away.
The other was with the writing style itself. Hill favors telling the story rather than showing it, complete with random information dumps. Take, for instance, a few segments from chapter five:
But for Thirrin, there was an added excitement: Her birthday fell at Yule, and she would reach fourteen, the Coming of Age for girls.
The fact that Thirrin knew he was also one of the softest fathers any headstrong girl could want was a secret she was happy to keep.
Instead of showing us Thirrin getting excited about this, we're just casually told, "Oh hey, this girl is excited about this thing! It must be important!" Instead of showing us Redrought being a good father, we're just told that he likes these things that make him a non-stereotypical king. It would have been nicer to see her getting jittery or to see Redrought just running up and hugging her rather than having it dropped in like we'd have a hard time figuring it out for ourself.
All in all, the story wasn't terrible. Like I said, the plot and the world were enough to make me read it from start to finish. But between the weird age and the not-so-great writing style, I don't think I'd recommend it. There are better fantasies out there. (Hello, Thief's Covenant and every Tamora Pierce book.)
Overall Rating & Final Comments: 4/10. Great plot and world, but terrible age for the protagonist and a writing style full of tell-not-show and information dumps.
Have you read The Cry of the Icemark? What do you think?
And don't forget to check out us YAckers talking about this over at the group blog!