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Ice Land: A Novel Paperback – August 25, 2009
"A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel and casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander novels
"A rich, complex, and compelling tale of myth, magic and very human passion. Tobin weaves together legend and history into an epic saga, layering the grandeur of a semi-mythic Iceland with the familiar landscape of the human heart."
-Lauren Willig, author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
"Ice Land had me with its first sentence. I loved the book's journey into long- ago time and the myths of epic, ancient gods. Tobin is a skillful and talented writer."
-Karleen Koen, author of Dark Angels
"A very engrossing read. Told in Betsy Tobin's lyrical voice and set against a backdrop of mythical and natural grandeur, Ice Land is a tale both sensual and violent."
-Kristen Britain, author of the Green Rider series
"[Tobin] hits big… [Her] rich understanding of the source material, backed up by deft historical touches…brings the narrative to life.'
"One does not often meet a heroine with the power of flight, but Betsy Tobin's characters are hardly ordinary people. . . Not just a good story, but one of the greatest."
-The Times (UK)
"Tobin captures this world in all its complexity. . . Here is a world where magic and mystery rise from the currents of nature and not in defiance of it. The land itself, and the sea and sky surrounding, engender myth as naturally as the salmon spawns."
-The Independent (UK)
"ICE LAND is a lyrically written epic inspired by the beauty and the history of that island, and the rich world of Norse mythology that infuses it. . . Indeed the novel grafts a modern sensibility on to ancient myth, and is as much a contemplation of love and relationships as an epic adventure. . . Tobin finds female complexity at the heart of Norse mythology."
-Sunday Telegraph (UK)
"The novels of Betsy Tobin are dark and bloody, sensual and mythic. . . In ICE LAND Tobin inhabits this pagan land with passion and intensity."
-The Observer (UK)
"[ICE LAND] pulses with subversion and unexpected passion. . . an elegy not merely to a different age where the gods were perceived as not so distant, but also crucially to a tradition of storytelling; the gathering around a bright fire to hear tales of hardship, magic and love. It is surprising just how resonant they still are."
"Tobin's descriptions of the natural relief of Iceland are triumphant."
-Time Out (UK)
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Top Customer Reviews
The setting is Iceland, around the year 1000 A.D. King Olaf of Norway is trying to annex Iceland (whose people pride themselves on their independence.) Christianity is making inroads and causing friction with the traditions of farmers who have grown up worshiping Thor and Odin. This novel's Iceland is more magical than the Iceland of the Sagas, but more prosaic than the picture one usually gets from Norse mythology. The geography is mysterious; it makes sense and yet at the same time, it doesn't.Read more ›
"The day we met, I had flown deep into the central highlands, seeking a spot where I could be alone. I found it on a high desert plateau, where a hidden spring had forced its way up through the lava shield, forming an oasis. The water was a brilliant cobalt blue. It spread like fingers across the plateau, and all around it lay a bed of thick, luminous green moss."
Tobin's love of Iceland's unusual landscape is clear. Though her prose is spare compared to some, she brings the land's beauties to life in the reader's mind.
Tobin's minimalist style continues throughout _Ice Land_, with mixed results. Sometimes the prose style works with the story, its simplicity emphasizing the raw forces of nature and the rugged lives of the people who live in the shadow of the volcano Hekla. Sometimes the writing works against the story, though, skimming over events that could be interesting to read, and describing settings (especially man-made settings) so thinly that I had trouble visualizing what these places looked like.
What really bogged me down, though, was _Ice Land_'s lack of forward momentum. There's clearly a plot. The goddess Freya is trying to save Iceland from cataclysm by bargaining for the dwarves' necklace Brisingamen, and the mortal girl Fulla is searching for love and a husband. Yet the tension never feels like it's being ratcheted up. The characters wander from place to place, and in each place, have arguments. Their level of anxiety doesn't seem to rise from one incident to the next.Read more ›
Freya works a deal with the dwarves for the necklace in exchange for escorting their leader Dvalin in a quest to cure his sister's infertility. She actually obtains the necklace, but Odin steals it from her. Odin uses the necklace to extort Freya into kidnapping Fulla, who is his daughter; Fulla's human family accepts Vili into their clan as her husband. Hekla erupts destroying much of the surrounding area, but also enables Freya to regain the necklace and rescue Dvalin.
This is an exciting Nordic historical romantic fantasy that use Norse mythology to tell the tale of forbidden loves at a time when Christianity has come to the island. Although the two major subplots can prove difficult at times to follow as perspective rotates frequently, sub-genre fans will relish Betsy Tobin's terrific tale of love conquers all even a legendary God.
Buy this book as a birthday gift for a teenage granddaughter or nephew. Be assured that she or he is very likely to come out of a first reading with an elementary knowledge of Icelandic geology, history, religions and myths. The author deliberately humanizes a god like Odin and shows a bit of divine spark in his half human daughter Fulla. The Aesir race of Icelandic gods is just a bunch of humans written larger than the island's Dwarves and much larger than the island's Giants. Miscegenation among all three races bothers no one. And marriage is the ideal, even when not entirely voluntary on the part of the engaged couple.
Religion is important to Icelanders. Fulla's putative grandfather Hogni says that he sailed from Norway to Iceland 30 years ago "to be free" of Christians. Young Vili, Fulla's would be boyfriend, despite the fact that his father slew the human she thought her father, questions both the old gods and the new Jehovah. And Freya and some of the other gods fear the old prophecy repeated by the Norn Skuld that the great gods will outlive their usefulness and disappear. And what is heaven? Is it dwarves and other tribes that create hell among us? "Perhaps heaven is a place defined by man's absence."
Some scholars see medieval Iceland as supplying some of the liberty of conscience and small government ideals embedded in the US Constitution. And you get a three-dimensional sense of these values in ICE LAND. The old gods were fated to go.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I lived in Iceland in the early 90's, OMG. I remember all the places the book talked about. I remember the history lessons during my language classes, and this book was on the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Kindle Customer
I find this book to have a great story, to be an excellent read, but to require a bit of perseverance at the start.
This book has been compared to "The Mists Of Avalon". Read more
It is 1000 AD in Iceland. Freya, the goddess of love, goes on a dangerous journey to find a gold necklace that supposedly can alter history. Read morePublished on July 4, 2012 by Black Plum
I picked up this book because I'd spent several months in Iceland and was fascinated both by the land and the people. Read morePublished on December 2, 2010 by S. Smith-Peter
In Tobin's second novel, after Bone House, she takes on the world of Iceland in the year A.D. 1000, setting the stage with research details of Viking and medieval Iceland,... Read morePublished on October 29, 2010 by Alex C. Telander
I loved this book. It's a well written and interesting story of great quests, of forbidden love, of magic, of medieval Iceland, and of people who don't even know how lonely they... Read morePublished on September 4, 2010 by Rachel Gray
Ice Land combines the gods of Norse mythology with the everyday lives of ordinary humans living in Iceland around 1000 CE, and the story itself was just as lovely as the paperback... Read morePublished on July 6, 2010 by Emily Chen
This story weaves a lot of ideas about history and mythology, including the introduction of christianity. Read morePublished on July 5, 2010 by Just Trying to Help