Icefall, by Matthew Kirby (book review) – deadly secrets in the ice, sent by the gods?

As the glacier above the wooden fortress creaks and groans…
As the fjord begins to ice over, with no word from home…
As the royal children and their guardians realize that treachery is locked into their hiding place with them…

Our world Wednesday book takes us to the far North and far, far back in time, when the people who would become the Vikings battle winter’s fiercest blasts sent by the gods, as well as attacks from mere mortals.

Singing odes of gods and kings, reshaping history to suit the ears of the victors, skalds tell countless stories from memory. Is it Solveig’s destiny to walk the storytellers’ path, instead of being a dutiful daughter to the king?

Another wonderful, unusual tale from Matthew J. Kirby, who brought us The Clockwork Three (my review here).

Book info: Icefall / Matthew J. Kirby. Scholastic, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Book Talk: Solveig wonders if winter will trap them in the mountain fort, waiting for word that her father has defeated an attacking king, listening to the glacier creak, worrying, worrying.

The king had sent her, her young brother the crown prince, and her older sister Asa away from the battle for their safety. When his best warriors arrive to protect them in the hidden fortress, Solveig knows that the berserkers would rather be fighting alongside her father instead of guarding them as the fjord ices over.

As the cold nights grow longer, the king’s storyteller gives them tales of the gods and of great battles. The skald finds that Solveig has an ear for story and a memory for detail – would she like to learn the storytelling arts? Finally, something worthwhile for this middle child – not pretty enough to marry off to forge an alliance, not a boy to be a warrior-prince.

A sudden outbreak of illness in the fort – a curse? Poison? The plague? Secrets told, promises broken, tempers flaring among the restless warriors. Will their father triumph over the invader who tried to steal Asa as his bride instead of negotiating? Will young prince Harald survive the winter? Will any of them?

A story from the days when storytellers kept history and hope alive through their ballads and odes, Icefall brings readers to the glacier’s edge, watching with Solveig over the stormy sea, hoping that the sails in the distance bring news of victory instead of danger. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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